Halyna Hutchins: In her own words | CNN

Editor’s note: A version of this story previously published in 2021. It has been updated with news of charges in the case.


The film industry was shocked and in mourning after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was murdered on the set of the movie “Rust” in 2021.

The journalist turned cinematographer died after the film’s star and executive producer, Alec Baldwin, fired a prop gun while rehearsing a scene.

Hutchins was 42 years old.

The film’s director, Joel Souza, 48, was also injured during the incident.

Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith will be charged with manslaughter, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Baldwin has maintained that he was unaware that the gun he fired on set contained a live bullet.

Hutchins is survived by her husband, Matthew, and their young son.

Hutchins took part in a Blackmagic Collective livestream in April 2021 where she discussed her filmmaking.

I like stories that [are] rooted in reality or real characters, but my favorite part is creating the world where the story will exist,” he said.

A native of Ukraine, Hutchins grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle,
“surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines,” according to its website. She earned a bachelor’s degree in International Journalism from Kyiv National University.

He worked as an investigative journalist on British documentary productions in Europe, where he presented documentaries for the BBC and Discovery before moving to New York City.

“In New York I really got into photography,” Hutchins said in an interview for “Why Women Excel in Hollywood” posted on YouTube months before her death. “Fashion photography, I did a lot and just wanted to do art films, really. Just something really large-scale, beautiful, just auteur cinema.”

“When I moved to Los Angeles, I tried to figure out what the next step would be,” he said. Where do you start when you don’t know anyone? Where do you start?

That led her to a UCLA extension course in directing “just to get my feet wet,” Hutchins recalled. She quickly realized that she loved cinematography more than directing.

“I shot like 15 shorts there,” he said. “So, I kept shooting and I thought that was probably my calling.”

Hutchins worked with a lighting company and then attended what she called “the best institution for my profession,” the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory, graduating in 2015.

Filmmaker Halyna at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018

After her death, actor Jensen Ackles, who worked with Hutchins on “Rust,” posted on Instagram that he had donated to an AFI scholarship fund in her name.

“Early last week I felt compelled to tell Halyna how amazing I thought she was. I told her how amazing I thought her camera shots were and how exciting it was to watch her and her team work on her,” she wrote. “Truly. She laughed and said thank you and gave me a hug. I’ll always be grateful that we had that moment.”

During the Blackmagic Collective live stream, Hutchins shared what drew her to different movies.

“The character base is the most exciting part for me,” he said. “If I can go on a journey with the characters. Gender doesn’t really matter, it’s just the environment you create around it to convey the character’s journey.”

“If I want to see this movie, I would like to do it,” he said.

When asked during the “Why Women Excel in Hollywood” interview what drew her to filmmaking, Hutchins had a candid answer.

“It’s a passion for sure,” he said. “Once you have the mistake, you can’t get out of it.”


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