Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot by a prop gun, was a rising star

Oct 22, 2021
Originally published on October 24, 2021 9:23 am

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died on the set of Rust when Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun, is being remembered as a talented artist and a team player. Hutchins' credits include the superhero action film Archenemy, Blindfire and The Mad Hatter. She was 42 years old.

When Hutchins was named one of the American Society of Cinematographers' (ASC) Rising Stars in 2019, she told American Cinematographer magazine, "You need to develop your own vision, but the key to a successful film is communication with your director and your team."

Among those who worked with Hutchins, Archenemy actor Joe Manganiello wrote on Instagram: "She had such an eye and a visual style, she was the kind of cinematographer that you wanted to see succeed because you wanted to see what she could pull off next. She was a fantastic person. There was no amount of pressure she couldn't handle. She was a great collaborator and an ally to anyone in front of her camera. "

A journalist turned filmmaker, Hutchins was an army brat born in Ukraine. According to her website, she "grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines." She told American Cinematographer "there wasn't that much to do outside," which is why she was already a movie fan. Labelling herself as a "Restless dreamer" and "Adrenaline junkie" in her Instagram bio, Hutchins filmed herself doing such extreme sports as parachuting and cave exploration.

When Archenemy was released in 2020, director Adam Egypt Mortimer praised Hutchins on Twitter for having "a brilliant mind for light and texture. Her tastes and sensibility of what is cinematic were a huge asset for executing our style — the grimy but beautiful feeling I referred to as ROMANTIC BRUTALSM."

Today, Mortimer posted: "I'm so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film."

Innovative Artists, the agency that represented Hutchins, issued a statement in her memory: "Halyna Hutchins was a ray of light. Always smiling, always hopeful. She decided early on she would take the craft of cinematography by storm and the last couple of years proved she was well on her way. Her talent was immense, only surpassed by the love she had for her family.

"All those in her orbit knew what was coming; a star director of photography, who would be a force to be reckoned with," the statement continued. "All of us at Innovative Artists are heartbroken. We mourn for her family and we hope this tragedy will reveal new lessons for how to better ensure safety for every crew member on set."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Halyna Hutchins was the director of photography who was fatally shot to death on a film set in New Mexico on Thursday. Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun that wounded Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza during the filming of their movie, "Rust." Halyna Hutchins died on the way to the hospital. Mr. Souza was released on Friday. Halyna Hutchins was 42 years old and a talented cinematographer. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: On Instagram, Halyna Hutchins described herself as a restless dreamer and an adrenaline junkie. She did extreme sports, like parachuting and cave exploration, and the movie she worked on were plenty suspenseful - horror movies like "The Mad Hatter" and thrillers like "Archenemy."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARCHENEMY")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I'm going to kill them all. I'm going to annihilate every last one of them.

BLAIR: When "Archenemy" was released last year, director Adam Egypt Mortimer praised Hutchins on Twitter. He wrote that she had a brilliant mind for light and texture and achieved the grimy but beautiful feeling they were after. Hutchins was an army brat who was born in Ukraine. Her official bio says she grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines. She worked as a journalist before turning to cinematography full time.

STEPHEN LIGHTHILL: She was just a really determined person who had enormous talent.

BLAIR: Stephen Lighthill is president of the American Society of Cinematographers. He was Hutchins' teacher and mentor when she studied at the American Film Institute Conservatory. He says she was very good at making connections beyond her chosen field of cinematography.

LIGHTHILL: She reached out to the other disciplines, in particular to the directing discipline, so that she came out of AFI with a really comprehensive and well-rounded education.

BLAIR: "Cinematography is not something you do by yourself," Hutchins said. "You need to develop your own vision. But the key to a successful film is communication with your director and your team." That's from an interview she did when she was chosen as one of the American Society of Cinematographers' list of 10 rising stars in 2019. In a statement, Hutchins' agents write, her talent was immense, only surpassed by the love she had for her family.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.