When Ukrainian-American filmmaker Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed by a prop firearm on a U.S. movie set on Oct. 21, she left behind stunned members of her grieving family and the world of film.
U.S. actor Alec Baldwin discharged the weapon on the set of the film “Rust,” where Hutchins served as the director of photography. The shot fatally wounded her and she died later that day at the University of New Mexico Hospital.
Hutchins’ younger sister, Svetlana Androsovych, told the Kyiv Post of their strong bond and close relationship despite living on opposite sides of the world.
“I cannot comprehend [her passing]. I loved her very much; I was very proud of her, and she was my role model. We were always close and remained in touch, despite the distance,” said Androsovych, who currently resides in Indonesia.
“Her determination was admired by many. Her marriage and relationship with her husband is an example to follow – no quarrels or scandals. It was real love, their beautiful son, is proof of that, we call him ‘wunderkind’ – a brilliant and capable boy,” she continued, referring to Halyna’s husband, Matthew Hutchins.
In addition to her husband and son, Hutchins leaves behind her parents, who reside in Kyiv.
“This loss is a great grief for our family, and I see how hard it is for our parents. Hopefully, time will ease our heartache,” Androsovych said.
Joel Souza, the film’s director, was also injured during the incident and remains in stable condition. Police have opened an investigation and have filed no charges. Baldwin was photographed in tears outside the sheriff’s office.
The actor commented on the situation the following day on Twitter.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family,” Baldwin wrote. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
The Ukraine-born Hutchins has been a movie fan since her childhood. Growing up on a remote Soviet Arctic military base, movies were a few of the ways to keep herself entertained, according to the filmmaker’s interview with the American Association of Cinematographers Magazine in 2019.
She graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv with a degree in international journalism. While pursuing her career, she realized that she was most drawn to the personal stories of people she encountered.
“My transition from journalism began when I was working on British film productions in Eastern Europe, traveling with crews to remote locations and seeing how the cinematographer worked,” Hutchins told the magazine. “I was fascinated with storytelling based on real characters.”
Hutchins decided to pursue filmmaking, so she moved to the United States. Eager to start her career, she applied to any production job she could, eventually working her way up to short film production.
She eventually moved to Los Angeles and attended the American Film Institute Conservatory, which she graduated in 2015. After that, she began to work on bigger budget productions and slowly gained recognition in the film industry, having worked on titles like “Blindfire,” “Archenemy” and “Darlin.”
Social media flooded with sympathy for the victims and anger at the preventable situation. Shannon Lee, daughter of Bruce Lee and sister to Brandon Lee, who died in a similar prop gun incident in 1993, shared her condolences on Twitter.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust,'” Lee wrote. “No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
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