Where is Dave Halls now? 'Rust' AD disregarded weapon safety protocols on other sets
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO: Dave Halls, an assistant director on the sets of ‘Rust’, was reportedly the subject of complaints about safety and his behavior on set during two productions in 2019. Two people who worked closely with him told CNN that the complaints against Halls include a disregard for safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics use, blocked fire lanes and exits, and instances of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
The shot that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set was fired as actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun, according to director Joel Souza who was injured in the shooting. Souza was shot in the shoulder and Hutchins was killed when the prop gun went off during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Thursday, October 21.
'Rust' shooting: Chilling 911 call from set revealed as Halyna Hutchins lay dying
‘Rust’ shooting: Dave Halls who gave Alec Baldwin live gun has history of complaints
Souza told investigators that Baldwin was "sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw.” A cross draw is when a shooter pulls the weapon from a holster on the opposite side of the body from the draw hand. Souza was looking over Hutchins' shoulder "when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop. She remembered Hutchins "complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection" after the shot was fired, the document said.
Due to labor problems, Souza said they had only one camera available to use that day, and it was not recording at the time of the incident. Souza also confirmed to an investigator that he heard the term "cold gun" on set, meaning the firearm should have been empty. Souza said three people had been handling the guns or firearms for scenes and that they were checked by the armorer and first assistant director and then given to the actor using them. No charges have been filed in the incident.
As per a CNN report, Halls was identified in court documents as the assistant director who handed Baldwin the prop firearm. On a recording of the 911 call placed by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, the LA Times reported that she presumably referred to Halls when she was heard saying, “the f**king AD that yelled at me at lunch, asking about revisions.” On the recording, she adds: “He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happens on the set.”
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 that the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day," Goll's statement reads. She added 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 revealed 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 said.
Another crew member who also worked in the productions corroborated Goll's accounts under the condition of anonymity, 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 recounted 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.
Goll said "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."
Halls has worked on films such as ‘Bone Tomahawk’, ‘Balls of Fury’, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, ‘Bad Santa’, ‘The Matrix Reloaded’, ‘A Simple Plan’, and ‘Fargo’. He also worked as the first assistant director on the second unit of the 2000 movie ‘The Crow: Salvation’, the sequel to ‘The Crow’, the film on which Brandon Lee died in an on-set gun accident in 1993.
Filmmaker Aaron B Koontz, who also knew Hutchins, and worked with Halls twice, said: “Dave is extremely efficient and he’s very good at keeping the pace going and just moving at the speed that you have to move at in order to make your days… He was a good manager of the day. Which all ADs have to be.”
It is uncertain where Halls is right now. He is unavailable on social media and has not spoken to the press as of yet.