Halyna Hutchins passed away in the midst of her work as a cinematographer

Contre-Champ AFC n°325

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The cinematography world is in mourning as a result of the death of Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer originally from Ukraine, which occurred on Thursday 21 October 2021, at the age of 42, on the set of Joel Souza’s western film Rust, in New Mexico (USA). A rising star with a promising talent and a warm personality, her work had been noticed on Pollyanna McIntosh’s Darlin’ (2019), Michael Nell’s Blindfire and Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Archenemy (2020). The AFC’s cinematographers send their condolences to her family and loved ones. May her memory live on !

“I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film,” Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer wrote on Twitter.

“I’m in shock. I was so lucky to have had Halyna Hutchins as my DP on Archenemy. An incredible talent & great person. I can’t believe this could happen in this day and age… gunfire from a prop gun could kill a crew member ? What a horrible tragedy. My heart goes out to her family,” actor Joe Manganiello said.

“Halyna Hutchins was a ray of light. Always smiling, always hopeful. She decided early on she would take the craft of cinematography by storm and the last couple of years proved she was well on her way,” Innovative Artists her agency said.

Halyna Hutchins, vue sur son compte Instagram
Halyna Hutchins, vue sur son compte Instagram

"Honoring Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins", by the ASC
“Halyna was a bright, talented, determined cinematographer. She had a big career in front of her and a supportive family to share her success with.​​”
The ASC and American Cinematographer magazine are mourning the loss of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, who was serving as director of photography on the Western feature Rust in New Mexico when a real firearm being used as a prop fired a live round around 1:50 p.m. local time on Thursday, October 21, killing her and injuring the film’s director, Joel Souza.
Read more on ASC website.

Halyna Hutchins sur le tournage de "Darlin'", en 2019 - Photo ASC
Halyna Hutchins sur le tournage de "Darlin’", en 2019
Photo ASC

In 2019, Halyna Hutchins (2d from right on top of the image below) was amongst the ten “Rising Stars” of cinematography selected by three ASC contributors.

“We were deeply pained to learn of the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust. We are stunned and in disbelief.
Our thoughts go out to her family and her crew in this horrible tragedy.” Femmes à la caméra (Wemen with a movie camera), posted on Facebook and Instagram

“I am terrified by what occurred because, just two years ago, I shot a film with Alec Baldwin where firearms were being used all the time. It was a shoot on location in a church, and there were at least twenty armed people firing on one another… Of course, we did everything possible to ensure safety, and we believed that there was no risk. But, now, I’m not so sure that was the case ! Was it dangerous ? Alec Baldwin was constantly firing into the camera, and we had Perspex between him and us. Was that enough ? I don’t know. What are the rules ?
We have to figure out exactly what happened for the safety of all of us.” John de Borman, AFC, BSC

“I cannot stop thinking about the last minutes of the life of @halunahutchins on set. Because I am a cinematographer. I remeber all the days whe, I was also shooting actors shooting guns in close up and me telling them : ’Please aim the gun at the lens... as close as possible’. Because it would makle a better shot.

“I cannot stop myself imaging how she framed the last shot of her life. What she said to the actor, if she tried different lenses, different height of the camera, different distances. I hope she had no time realizing what was happening to her.
I want to send my condolences to her family and close friends.
I know all the cinematographers all over the Wold are feeling what happened to Halyna very deeply. Halyna we love you.
#cinematographers” Benoît Delhomme, AFC

“What a shock to learn this news. I am speechless…
It is absolutely tragic, such an immense waste, and above all, totally incomprehensible and unacceptable.
My thoughts go out to Halyna’s family and loved ones.” Antoine Marteau, AFC

“We often have difficulties to find the right words and this might be the reason why we are cinematographers, to express our emotions with images, somewhere between the light and the shadows.
We have learnt how to embrace the brightest part and the darkest part of our images because this is what makes them more meaningful. We know that life is full of contrast, like our images, and we know that behind this contrast lies some beauty that we cannot explain.
Today, I want to send my images to Halyna. I believe the light from the sun and the moon will not be the same anymore. It will be magnified by her genius and her sensibility.
Today, we are all connected. I send my love to Halyna and her family.” Aymerick Pilarski, AFC

"Öndög" - Photographié par Aymerick Pilarski
Photographié par Aymerick Pilarski

“As each of us, I hope that the investigation of this tragedy that led to Halyna Hutchins’ losing her life will reveal the sum of errors committed in the coming hours so as to ensure that it cannot happen again and that “cinema may always remain just cinema”… And, since this gives us the opportunity to shed light on some of the professions that allow us cinematographers to shoot certain images with greater security, I would like to remind our readers some things that many of us consider to be “fundamentals”…

“How numerous are those men and women hidden in the shadows, and often relegated to the end of the credits — when they’re not entirely forgotten — to whom our images (but also our safety) owe so much ? If, before beginning a shoot, we are sometimes delighted to be working again with a given technician, isn’t that often because we have the greatest respect for him or her and his or her professionalism ?
Although some units are more sensitive than others — such as pyrotechnics or FX — the list of men and women to whom we owe so much is long. We can’t forget the stunt doubles[1] who calculate their trajectories down to the millimeter in order to minimize risk as much as possible for the men and women around them… My thoughts go out to Kevin C., who is now in a rehabilitation center following a bad motorcycle accident that occurred during a take in which no one else was hurt. Although there will never be such a thing as zero risk, let us agree that the professionalism of certain technicians needs to be praised before the amateurism of others’ is blamed.

“How many assistant cameramen and grips have saved the lives of an operator by preventing a car from hitting them ? How many sparks have avoided accidents by taking the few seconds needed to securely fasten a spotlight to ensure it will never smash open the head of an actor or a member of the crew ? How many assistant directors, in the midst of an over-filled work schedule, don’t fail to underestimate the time required to shoot a scene that sometimes needs more careful attention than a normal scene ? That the work of the production director is important when it comes to correctly anticipating what will be involved in shooting a scene in a location that will be more difficult than another one ? That the analysis and careful thinking of a location manager in a given situation is praiseworthy when we are able to shoot images calmly and safely despite the context… When a shooting crew who work hand-in-hand with one another is beautiful when each person is respected for his or her abilities… That things become complicated when this is not the case…

“The technicians behind our images are not just the men and women who make up the “camera unit”. I could add the work of animal handlers whose job is to ensure their animals carry out what is written in the screen play, but also that they not harm a single one of us, despite the singularity of what is being asked of them and our proximity to them. How could we forget the skill of the prop masters and the manufacturers for whom safety is paramount, whether it means serving hot (not boiling) soup to actors or building a treehouse at the top of a tree (for example) that is going to have to accommodate three or four people and a camera…

“At a time when guilty parties are certainly going to be singled out on the other side of the Atlantic, and where tongues will wag both here and there, I felt it was not possible not to recognize all the men and women who do their work extraordinarily well and whom I have been lucky to work alongside behind a camera and in the middle of the madness a shoot can become.” Gilles Porte, AFC