Veteran star Alec Baldwin published a lengthy defence of the Rust production signed by 25 members of the crew, a day before ABC News is set to air a two-hour special about the on-set tragedy.
In the letter published on Thursday, the crew members sought to push back on claims that chaotic and unsafe conditions on set contributed to the death of Halyna Hutchins, reports variety.com.
Alec Baldwin was preparing for a scene on October 21 when he shot Hutchins with a live round from a Colt .45. Detectives continue to look into the circumstances and have focused on potential lapses and an air of “complacency” on the production.
The crew members argued in the letter that the narrative of an unsafe set is false.
“Unfortunately, in the film industry, it is common to work on unprofessional or hectic productions to gain experience or credits,” they wrote.
“Many of us have worked on those types of productions. ‘Rust’ was not one of them. ‘Rust’ was professional.”
They characterised some of the crew members who have spoken out against the production as “disgruntled”.
They also stated that the letter was not “sanctioned or influenced” by the film’s producers.
“The descriptions of Rust as a chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace are false and distract from what matters most: the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices.”
The letter was sent to the New Mexico Film Office and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Lane Luper, a camera operator on Rust, has been among the most outspoken critics of the production. He led a group of seven workers who resigned on October 20 in protest of working conditions on set.
In a statement last week, Luper argued that the “production and its producers, including Alec Baldwin, cut corners and endangered their entire crew by failing to follow industry safety rules”.
Rust producers have also been sued twice, by the film’s gaffer and script supervisor, who allege that negligent hiring practices and poor supervision contributed to the shooting.