Hollywood once again fails to agree to terms in last-ditch talks for California movie gun bill

Hands hold a prop gun with a yellow tag attached to it.
Props expert Guillaume Delouche holds a prop gun at Independent Studio Services in Sunland-Tujunga. The accidental fatal shooting of a crew member by actor Alec Baldwin during the making of the movie “Rust” has led to efforts to create legislation to regulate the use of guns on film sets.
(David McNew / AFP via Getty Images)

Another proposed bill that would regulate the use of firearms on film and TV sets in California has failed to gain support from both Hollywood unions and the film industry after last-ditch efforts this week to find common ground.

In May, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) held back two dueling bills that had been making their way through the Legislature and asked the two sides to find consensus. Earlier this week, there were final hour meetings between the unions and the Motion Picture Assn. in an attempt to agree on terms before time ran out for this legislative session, a person close to the talks said. However, the two sides couldn’t agree in the required time, the MPA confirmed to The Times.

“The Motion Picture Association and our member studios remain committed to enhanced firearm safety and training programs, and we are thankful to Senator Portantino for his leadership on this issue,” Melissa Patack, vice president of state government affairs at the MPA, said in a statement.

The new law would have been the first major legislation passed after of the killing of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” After the tragedy last fall, which shocked the industry, legislators called to ban real guns on sets and this year introduced various bills. The lack of progress in making any significant changes to film sets after the accident is likely to draw criticism.


However the MPA, which lobbies on behalf of studios like Walt Disney and Warner Bros. as well as streaming platforms like Netflix, said it would pursue efforts to finalize a bill, although any legislation will not be voted on until next year.

“Following the adjournment of the California Legislature, we will explore every avenue to advance legislation and will also work with the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee to bolster the appropriate safety bulletins,” Patack said.

Portantino said the two sides were not far apart.

“While I believe both sides came close to an agreement, we were not able to come up with a plan that ultimately had consensus,” Portantino said in a statement to The Times. “I remain committed to finding a solution and continuing my role as an honest broker as the discussions move to the fall. This is too important of an issue to force a resolution through the process.”

Earlier this year, California senators were pushing rival bills for legislation after the deadly shooting.

Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) offered Senate Bill 831, which had the support of Hollywood’s major unions, such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the Directors Guild of America, but not the MPA.

The MPA instead threw its support behind the narrowly focused SB 829 backed by Portantino.

The two bills failed to clear the California Senate Appropriations Committee in May. At the time Portantino said he was holding back the bills because of a lack of consensus in the entertainment industry over potential legislation.

Both bills would require training for armorers and crew dealing with guns on sets as well as penalties for producers who flouted rules. However, a key difference — and where an impasse remains — is on the role of a safety advisor, a person close to talks said.

The MPA-backed bill SB 829 required the presence of a fire code official, while SB 831 required a broader set safety supervisor to be appointed.

Following Hutchins’ death, California legislators had announced plans to ban guns outright on film sets. However there was a backlash from armorers who supply the weapons and manage them on sets. Some called the effort to ban guns “misguided.”


They feared it would hurt their livelihoods and push productions to more gun-friendly states.

Other states are considering legislation to regulate the use of guns on film sets. State Sen. Kevin Thomas of New York proposed a ban on live ammunition on film sets and a requirement that cast and crew take firearm safety training in scenes involving guns.

In the wake of the accident, Rust Movie Productions LLC stated its top priority was the safety of cast and crew, that it had not been made aware of any official complaints concerning weapons or prop safety on set, and that it was cooperating with Santa Fe authorities on their investigation.

Criminal charges have yet to be filed in the case.

Alec Baldwin pulled the trigger, the FBI concludes. But the agency’s review doesn’t answer key questions, including where the live bullets came from.

Aug. 15, 2022