Neal W Zoromski: Veteran prop master refused to work in 'Rust' over safety concerns
Prop master Neal W Zoromski described 'Rust' as 'an accident waiting to happen'
Veteran prop master Neal W Zoromski recently revealed that he refused to work in Alec Baldwin's film 'Rust' due to safety concerns. "I turned the job opportunity down on Rust because I felt it was completely unsafe," Zoromski was quoted as telling NBC News. Zoromsky said the producers of the film combined two separate jobs into one -- prop master and armorer -- to save money. “I impressed upon them,” he said, “that there were great concerns about that, and they didn’t really respond to my concerns about that.” “You never have a prop assistant double as the armorer,” Zoromski added. “Those are two really big jobs.”
In an interview with LA Times, the prop master described 'Rust' as “an accident waiting to happen.” On September 24, Walters, the production manager, sent Zoromski an email that read: “We’d really like one of the assistants to be the armorer that can push up on the gunfights and heavy armor days." To this, Zoromski replied, “Unfortunately, I have to pass on this opportunity. I am grateful for your interest and wish nothing but the very best for you, your crew and the show.” “After I pressed ‘send’ on that last email,” Zoromski said, “I felt, in the pit of my stomach: ‘That is an accident waiting to happen.'” Subsequently, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, took up the dual job as “property key assistant/armorer”.
Production sources from 'The Old Way' described their experience working with Hannah as concerning and troubling. “There were several concerns I brought to production’s attention,” one source said. “I have been around firearms my entire life and noticed some things that were not okay even with loaded blank firearms.” According to another source, under Hannah's watch there was not much attention given to gun safety.
In a troubling incident, Hannah had allegedly loaded a gun on the ground and then given it to child actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong without properly checking it. Crew members soon stepped in and demanded that shooting be stopped until the firearm is properly checked by Hannah. “She was reloading the gun on the ground, where there were pebbles and stuff. We didn’t see her check it, we didn’t know if something got in the barrel or not,” one source said.
The prop gun used by Alec Baldwin that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins had reportedly been used by crew members offsite for 'fun'. The gun, which misfired while Baldwin held it on the set of the movie 'Rust', may have even been loaded with live rounds when it was supposed to be used for target practice. Various sources claimed that the gun was even fired at off-the-clock gatherings.
Reportedly, hours before the tragedy, the film crew had walked out of the set after firearms were accidentally discharged three times. This once even happened with Baldwin's stunt double, who had apparently been told that the firearm was not loaded. Firearms were accidentally discharged two other times in a closed cabin. Assistant director Dave Halls reportedly handed over the gun to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded and instead claiming that it was safe to be used. Seconds later, the prop gun killed Halyna Hutchins.