In August 2022, the New Mexico Office of the Medical Researcher concluded that the 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin while filming Rust was accidental. While the incident is currently under investigation by the FBI, many in the industry wonder how the trajectory of cinema will be changed in the future. Despite the film’s low budget, this incident could have been easily avoided with proper safety protocols in place.
Producing a film comes with many pressures, so much so that routine security measures are often overlooked. Although nothing can erase the tragedies resulting from neglect, certain incidents have been a driving force for change towards the future of cinema.
8 Noah’s Ark – Presentation of safety rules
The 1920s were a booming time for the film industry. With the increase in cinema attendance and the emergence of sound in motion pictures, the era of classic Hollywood was established. Amid the glitz and glamour, the first film safety regulations were introduced.
Filming “The Great Flood” scene for the epic 1928 disaster drama Noah’s ark was indeed a disaster, resulting in countless injuries and even one death. Like the biblical story, Noah’s arkThe tragedy led to some positives. Hollywood began implementing security measures for global film production, and the industry hasn’t looked back.
seven Twilight Zone: The Movie – Tighter Security Requirements
Considered a strange sight by some, The twilight zone was greatly appreciated for its innovative storylines. However, when a devastating helicopter crash killed Vic Murrow and two child actors while filming Twilight Zone: The Moviea lasting impact on the entertainment industry has been made.
Following the accident, several unions inside and outside of Hollywood established stricter safety rules. The Director’s Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild set mandatory security requirements in contracts and overall production protocol. CAL FIRE also introduced the Cinema and Entertainment Safety program to assess scenes involving the use of pyrotechnics.
6 Midnight Rider Freight Train Crash
Rust wouldn’t be the only film to go unfinished following an on-set tragedy. The musical biopic Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story, suffered the same fate. Camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed instantly by an oncoming freight train on the film’s first day of shooting, and many crew members were injured.
Jones had been well respected in Hollywood for her work on previous productions such as The Vampire Diaries, JustifiedandThe Walking Dead. The tragedy prompted the Safety for Sarah movement to campaign for stricter safety measures in film and television productions.
5 Pleasantville – Rule of Brent
The setting of Pleasantville might have been an alternate reality, but an incident from overwork was pretty surreal. Cameraman Brent Hershman was killed on impact when he crashed his car into a utility pole. Hershman had fallen asleep at the wheel after working a combined 79 hours over five consecutive days.
Hershman’s death would not be the first to have been caused by exhaustion from long, stationary hours. A petition titled Brent’s Rule to limit fixed days to 12 p.m. was eventually passed by the Screen Actors Guild.
4 Million Dollar Mystery – Mandatory Ambulances
Long before Tom Cruise did his own stunts, Dar Robinson was renowned in the field with numerous world records to his credit. His untimely death at the age of 39 would end up being a turning point in the way of industry safety.
During a stunt for the 1987 film Million Dollar Mystery, Robinson died when his motorcycle fell off a cliff. Ambulances were present during other stunt scenes but were turned away before Robinson’s accident. Despite the negligence suit filed by Robinson’s wife resulting in a loss, the accident made on-sight ambulances mandatory for future film and television productions.
3 The fall from the horse by Jesse James
Although an outlaw and bank robber, Jesse James has become a defining figure in American history. His notoriety has given rise to countless representations on several media. One production that stands out is the eponymous 1939 film.
A decade after the launch of the first safety regulations, the measures have been extended to animals. The death of a horse while filming the film was the catalyst for change in the industry. As Western films were a popular genre at the time, American Humane played a pivotal role in ensuring the protection of animals on film and television sets.
2 Deadpool 2 – President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety
Despite many unpopular opinions, dead Pool is still a lucrative franchise, with a growing demand for more action sequences with each film. Joi Harris, famous road motorcyclist, became a stuntwoman for Deadpool 2. Unfortunately, she suffered a fatal accident on set.
Harris was killed after losing control in a tight turn while performing a motorbike stunt for the sequel, crashing through a glass window. In 2017, SAG-AFTRA set up the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety following Harris’ accident. The measure is intended to focus on rectifying filming safety risks for future productions.
1 The Crow – Stricter Prop Protocols
When the Rust the shooting took place, the world was immediately reminded of another accidental shooting in Hollywood. The victim was Brandon Lee, son of martial arts icon Bruce Lee and rising action hero. On the brink of stardom, Lee’s life was tragically cut short.
During the filming of the years 1994 The crow, Lee died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. While the weapon was a propeller gun loaded with blanks, one of the blanks contained actual bullet fragments, which directly caused Lee’s death upon impact. In the aftermath of the tragedy, stricter prop protocols were implemented regarding gun safety.
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