Crystal Rivers won’t soon forget Galina Hutchins.
“Such a beautiful spirit,” the young writer said in a trembling voice as she stood in a parking lot in Burbank on Sunday evening, October 24.
Rivers was among the hundreds of people gathered in the parking lot – the Local 80s International Stage Workers Alliance – for a picket in honor of Hutchins.
Rivers first met Hutchins, the filmmaker, at the American Film Institute, where the latter came and talked about the importance of having more women in the entertainment industry.
“She was such an incredible source of inspiration,” said Rivers, an aspiring cinematographer, “in the way she worked so hard to support other people on their way to the career ladder.”
This was a common theme during the all-night vigil. The mourners lit candles in honor of Hutchins. They watched in silence – many in an embrace – as images of a smiling Hutchins projected onto the outer wall.
And they remembered her.
Hutchins, 42, was killed Thursday when actor Alec Baldwin fired a rifle he didn’t know was filled with a live round on the set of Rust, a western produced and starred by the actor. Hutchins died at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.
The film’s director, 48-year-old Joel Sousa, was also injured, but healed and discharged from the hospital.
The shooting is under investigation.
The tragedy shook the Southern California entertainment industry, where many – from the flu to actors and sound engineers – were still grieving the loss of one. At the same time, they battled a sense of vulnerability in an industry where unions and film studios themselves were developing protocols to protect against such a tragedy on set.
“I hope this brings about real change,” said actress Jennifer Jernigan, lamenting that in the age of computer imaging, it’s impossible to simply illustrate the flash of a pistol rather than relying on a real gun on set.
“On set, you are completely vulnerable,” she said.
Baldwin expressed “shock and sadness” at the death, calling Hutchins “a colleague deeply admired” on Twitter.
“I am fully cooperating with the police investigation to find out how this tragedy happened,” Baldwin added, “and I keep in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family.”
Baldwin, 63, was rehearsing a scene outside the church on Thursday when he fired his pivot weapon.
Sousa, in turn, released a statement to NBC on Saturday saying that he was “appalled by the loss of my friend and colleague.”
“She was kind, bright, incredibly talented, fought for every centimeter,” he said, “and always pushed me to become better.”
Deputy Director Dave Halls, according to affidavits in support of a search warrant obtained by the Associated Press, took one of three shotguns from a mobile cart prepared by gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed.
Halls is said to have declared it a “melee weapon,” which means the weapon was safe to use when he handed it over to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live ammunition. Moments later, a shot was fired.
Hutchins, who was curled up around the monitor that lined up her next camera shot, was reportedly wounded in the chest. According to a search warrant filed with the Santa Fe County Court, the assistant director was reportedly unaware that the rifle was loaded with live ammunition.
For Hutchins, Rust was the next big step in a promising career.
The native of Ukraine was selected among the rising stars of American cinema in 2019.
With her documentary filmmaking skills and journalism training, Hutchins is said to have brought a rare perspective to her work, which, combined with what friend Emilia Mendieta called “tenacity,” truly made her a rising star in a male-dominated industry.
The production of “Rust” is stopped.
This was followed by questions about Hollywood security protocols.
In response to Hutchins’ death, the host of ABC’s police drama “Newbie” announced that the “live” weapon would no longer be used on set, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, a Hutchins vigil in Burbank followed a vigil in New Mexico the night before, as hundreds of people paid tribute in tears.
Brian Chatfield, who worked with Hutchins, still survived the loss of a friend on Sunday night in Burbank.
“She had a shiny eye,” he said. “She really trusted the darkness. She used darkness to illuminate the frame.
“She was going to be a superstar.”