Annenberg Radio

USC Cinematic Arts School students react to Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ shooting

As authorities and the film industry grapple with the shooting, film schools like the USC Cinematic Arts School are preparing the next generation of filmmakers into the industry

The ‘Rust’ shooting has shocked the film industry as authorities continue to uncover the unsafe conditions on set. With on set safety concerns at the forefront of discussion, USC Cinematic Arts School students and faculty have their own thoughts. Reporter Tatum Larsen has more on the story.


The tragic shooting of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of ‘Rust’ has rocked the film industry. Actor Alec Baldwin, who was at the hands of the shooting, recently said that he believed he was handed an unloaded gun which begs the question of who is responsible for this tragedy.

As authorities and the film industry grapple with this, film schools like the USC Cinematic Arts School are sharing their reactions to the event as they rear the next generation of filmmakers into the industry.

For SCA adjunct professor, Naveed Mackler, safety on set is top of mind.

Naveed Mackler: We have massive safety protocols. They have to get everything checked out by the production department. They’re not allowed to use any weapons. If they have fake guns, they’re not even allowed to have moving parts; it’s not even about blanks, it’s just not allowed to have moving parts. It’s not even about blanks, they don’t even have any moving parts, they’re just completely fake guns. Everything goes through a strict set of checkboxes that they have to follow.

In addition to following protocols on set, SCA students are expected to complete several safety training seminars so avoidable injuries do not occur. Senior cinema and media studies major, Sammad McHutchins, says that SCA takes safety so seriously that it could cost you your grade.

Sammad McHutchins: Once you’re in class you have to reference the seminar without the teacher or professor reminding you just because it’s up to you to remember the rules that you learned during the seminar.

While academic pressure is a powerful motivator, first-year graduate student Jenna Rossman says that there’s no greater risk than the safety of their peers when working with dangerous objects on sets.

Jenna Rossman: There’s something called hazardous shooting conditions and it covers a lot of different things. It’s if you want to have a minor on set. It’s if you’re dealing with fire or water or anything. Having a bathtub in your movie — that’s a hazard. Someone drinking water, that’s a hazard — that’s a choking hazard. With what happened on the ‘Rust’ set, you can’t blame just one person. It’s everyone’s responsibility. These are real weapons or they look like real weapons. I don’t think we should ever be making anything at the expense of human life.