‘Rust’ production reaches settlement with New Mexico Health and Safety Bureau

Buildings on the set of 'Rust' at Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of “Rust” in October 2021.
(Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

Rust Movie Productions, the company behind the troubled western whose cinematographer was killed, has reached a settlement with New Mexico’s Health and Safety Bureau.

As part of the deal, the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau agreed to downgrade its citation of the production from “willful-serious” to “serious” and reduce the penalty it levied from its maximum of $136,793 to $100,000, Rust Movie Productions said Friday.

Our top priority has always been resuming production and completing this film so we can honor the life and work of Halyna Hutchins,” said Melina Spadone, senior counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and attorney for Rust Movie Productions.Settling this case rather than litigating is how we can best move forward to achieve that goal.”


The company behind the movie ‘Rust’ denies allegations of wrongdoing made by New Mexico’s job safety agency.

Sept. 7, 2022

The settlement brings to an end a battle with the government agency after it said the film’s managers “demonstrated plain indifference” to employee safety after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Hutchins during a rehearsal in October 2021, according to authorities. Director Joel Souza also was injured.

The agency said procedures were not being followed on set and management failed to review work practices and take corrective action.

Rust Productions had denied the allegations of wrongdoing. The production is planning to resume filming this spring in Montana.

On Thursday, Baldwin pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in New Mexico.

The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and has denied wrongdoing. She appeared for the first time in a Santa Fe court Friday virtually. Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, argued for her to be able to have a gun in her home for protection after her personal information was made public during the investigation, he said.

“Miss Gutierrez Reed then had numerous threats, phone threats. She had voicemails that were very, very, very bad,” Bowles said. “She has had a stalker, and so she had a restraining order she had to get.”


New Mexico’s First Judicial Dist. Atty. Mary Carmack-Altwies argued that Gutierrez Reed should not have access to guns because of her “sloppy mishandling” of guns on the set of “Rust,” a claim that Bowles denied.

“There is no allegation that she is a danger to anyone having a firearm within her home,” Bowles countered.

The court agreed and allowed Gutierrez Reed the right to a gun for self defense. Among other release conditions, she is not allowed contact with witnesses.