‘Rust’ Tragedy Hasn’t Improved Hollywood’s On-Set Safety – and Crews Worry They’re Expendable

Insiders on the sets of ”Babylon“ and ”Magazine Dreams“ tell TheWrap of dangerously long hours and unsafe locations

If you work in Hollywood as technical crew, you know the name of actor Vic Morrow, killed by a helicopter during a stunt gone wrong on the 1983 feature “Twilight Zone: The Movie.” Or Brandon Lee, the son of actor Bruce Lee, struck and killed by a prop gun while filming 1994’s “The Crow.” Those stories have resurfaced following the indictments of Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for manslaughter after a fatality on the set of “Rust.”

A broadly held belief among below-the-line crew is that no one cares about their safety. Yet in interviews across the industry, TheWrap found that the problems facing production staff are deeper than mere apathy. The insularity among Hollywood’s many guilds and unions leads to finger-pointing when something goes wrong. Unclear lines of responsibility, with key managers sharing the burdens of both maximizing safety and minimizing costs, don’t help. And a culture of long hours, accentuated by the reasonable desire of some crew members to maximize overtime pay, contributes to the problem.

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Kristen Lopez

Kristen Lopez joined TheWrap as Film Editor in 2022. She has been a pop culture essayist, critic, and editor whose articles have appeared at Variety, MTV, TCM, and Roger Ebert. She was previously the TV Editor for IndieWire where she was nominated for a SoCal Journalism Award and National Journalism Award by the LA Press Club. Her first book, "But Have You Read the Book: 52 Literary Gems That Inspired Our Favorite Films" is due out from Running Press and TCM on March 7. A California native, Kristen was raised in a small suburb near Sacramento and graduated with a Masters in English from CSU Sacramento. She is the creator of the classic film podcast, Ticklish Business. Based in Los Angeles, she enjoys reading and finding Old Hollywood connections in her neighborhood in her free time.