Assistant director on 'Rust' was subject of complaints dating back to 2019
Published Sunday, October 24, 2021 8:48AM EDT Last Updated Sunday, October 24, 2021 11:31AM EDT
An assistant director on the film set of "Rust" was the subject of complaints over safety and his behaviour on set during two productions in 2019, two people who worked closely with him tell CNN.
The complaints against assistant director Dave Halls include a disregard for safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics use, blocked fire lanes and exits, and instances of inappropriately sexual behaviour in the workplace.
Halls was identified in court documents as the assistant director who handed actor Alec Baldwin a prop firearm, which when fired struck cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a live round. Hutchins was later pronounced dead at a New Mexico hospital.
Maggie Goll, an IATSE Local 44 prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, said in a statement to CNN that while working on Hulu's "Into the Dark" Anthology Series in February and May of 2019, Halls neglected to hold safety meetings and consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set to the crew, as is protocol.
"The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon's presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day," Goll's statement reads.
She adds that the prop master would "announce each day when a gun would be required on camera, the disposition of that weapon -- whether it was a rubber/plastic replica, a non-firing option, or a 'cold' functional, but unloaded option, allowing anyone to inspect said weapon prior to bringing it to set and presenting it to the talent. (...) The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements."
Goll's statement also describes an instance where a licensed pyrotechnician had a medical emergency on set and Halls asked her to continue with the shoot.
"I told him they are free to film whatever they want, but that there would be no fire or sparks, etc., until the medic, fire safety officer, and all of my crewmates were safely back on set," Goll details.
Halls did not respond to CNN's request for comment Saturday night about Goll's allegations against him.
A crew member who also worked in the productions but requested to not be named for fear of retaliation corroborated Goll's accounts, saying that when Halls did hold safety meetings, they were short and he was dismissive, saying the guns used would be the same as the production always uses, and questioning why they'd have to hold the meetings in the first place.
The crew member also said Halls complained about having a gun "cleared" (inspected by a licensed professional on set, such as an armorer) for a scene where an actress would aim the gun to her own head and pull the trigger.
Goll and the other crew member told CNN of another instance where Halls insisted on continuing filming on location while a storm hit, where electrical lights were touching mud, wires were exposed to the rain, and crew members feared for their safety.
On the allegations of sexual misconduct, Goll said she did not file a complaint, but says that "on my first day back on the series, another crew member told me to 'watch out' for Dave, saying he was too physically familiar with the crew, despite many rebuffs and complaints about unwanted and unnecessary touches. Nothing too extreme, but crew members of all genders and dispositions were being made uncomfortable by Dave's touches to their backs, waists, shoulders, etc."
Goll said at the time she called a production safety line and complained internally to Blumhouse Productions executive producers in person. She also said she informed the Directors Guild of America (DGA) regarding unsafe persons.
"To my knowledge nothing was done after my complaints," her statement reads.
CNN is reaching out to Blumhouse Productions and the DGA for comment.