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'Shaken all of us to the very core': New Mexico film community mourns Halyna Hutchins

Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “This moment has shaken all of us to the very core,” IATSE Local 480 President Liz Pecos said, holding a lit candle in front of the pink-streaked New Mexico sky.

Hundreds of people stood in front of her, holding their own candles aloft as they gathered to mourn cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Many of those crowded into Albuquerque Civic Plaza on Saturday night were members of Pecos’ Local, which represents “below-the-line” crew members working on film and television productions in New Mexico.

A few of the vigil attendees had known Hutchins, working with her on the set of “Rust,” where she was fatally shot by a prop gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin.

But most were part of the larger family of crew members who live largely in Albuquerque or Santa Fe and power New Mexico’s booming, tight-knit film industry. These were people who had been in the trenches together, working the kind of punishing hours that have helped spark an ongoing reckoning around labor conditions on sets.

“It’s not like Atlanta or Los Angeles, that’s for sure. It’s a lot smaller here,” said Jonathan Hubbarth, an Albuquerque-based locations coordinator wearing a “Stranger Things” New Mexico unit zip-up hoodie. “You actually know just about everybody, practically.”

 

As Rebecca Rhine, national executive director of the Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, and Cinematographers Guild President John Lindley spoke to the crowd, attendees tearfully hugged old friends and colleagues.

Lane Looper, a cameraman who worked with Hutchins on “Rust,” praised her to the crowd as “one of the most talented, kind and collaborative” people he had ever met.

“She’s a wonderful mom and a wonderful wife and just a wonderful soul. And I really hope more people like her exist,” he said, his voice constrained by grief. “I love everyone in this community. And thank you — I know I haven’t texted a lot of you back, but thank you because it means a lot.”

The 42-year-old Ukrainian native had been selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019.

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