Baldwin’s Fatal Shot: How is such an accident possible on a movie set?

The tragedy involving the American actor, which left one dead and one seriously injured, calls into question the procedures put in place to ensure the safety of the sets. But what are they? Answer with a film gunsmith, Christophe Maratier.

The death of Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography of the film Rust, shocks the world of cinema. Its director, Joel Souza, injured, left the hospital after going to intensive care. The drama took place in the middle of filming, caused by a shot from Alec Baldwin. A fortunately extremely rare event, but which questions the safety standards implemented by film productions.

Christophe Maratier is used to weapons and film sets. With his armory company Maratier Roirand, he equips film sets when necessary, from small French productions to major American films. Based in La Courneuve, he is currently working on the new film of the saga John wick, with Keanu Reeves, and on the adaptation of “Three Musketeers” with Vincent Cassel.

In France, the law provides that “Only the weapons which do not allow the firing of projectiles” are allowed on filming. The weapons are therefore modified to fire only blank bullets. The entrepreneur remains stunned by this affair. “I don’t understand what happened. The armories only use blank bullets ”, he explains. Before summarizing his work which, according to him, consists precisely of “warn the actors of the procedure to be respected, be vigilant and guarantee the safety of the actors.

An accident “quite possible

As the gunsmith explains, the main characteristic of a blank bullet is the absence of a warhead. “A real bullet is made up of four elements: a case, a primer, powder and a bullet. The blank ball only has the first three elements.“Clearly, it is a socket”where nothing goes towards the target, and in which we put powder. It is this powder that ignites and creates a fiery effect. In no case is there a projectile that goes off.

Regarding the case involving the 63-year-old American actor, Christophe Maratier refuses to put forward a particular hypothesis. According to him, an accident with a blank bullet remains “Quite possible”. “There is a fire effect, which is dangerous and which can be fatal, he specifies. A pressure is released, a real explosion which creates the flame. Some flames are almost a meter long. “ Another possibility to explain this accident: “An element of scenery which explodes at that moment, a heavy element which passes in front of the weapon when firing, which in turn will throw something forward and injure or, alas, kill someone. There are a lot of situations that can lead to such a drama.“.

In the case of Alec Baldwin, the Santa Fe, New Mexico police, in charge of the investigation, have not yet come up with an explanation. Alec Baldwin voluntarily presented himself to the authorities. He was released and no charges were brought against him. “I don’t have the words to express my shock and my sadness”, writes the actor on Twitter. And to indicate that he is in contact with the husband of Halyna Hutchins, who died of her injuries.


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