Shooting began on Oct. 6 and members of the low-budget film said they had been promised the production would pay for their hotel rooms in Santa Fe.
But after filming began, the crews were told they instead would be required to make the 50-mile drive from Albuquerque each day, rather than stay overnight in nearby Santa Fe. That rankled crew members who worried that they might have an accident after spending 12 to 13 hours on the set.
The cinematographer who was accidentally killed, Halyna Hutchins, had been advocating for safer conditions for her team, said one crew member who was on the set and was tearful when the camera crew left.
“She said, ‘I feel like I’m losing my best friends,’” recalled one of the workers.
As the camera crew — members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — spent about an hour assembling their gear at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, several nonunion crew members showed up to replace them, two of the knowledgeable people said.
One of the producers ordered the union members to leave the set and threatened to call security to remove them if they didn’t leave voluntarily.
“Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue shooting,” the knowledgeable person said.
The shooting occurred about six hours after the union camera crew left.
Baldwin, the film’s star who also served as a producer on the film, was apparently rehearsing a scene outside the church of the Bonzana Creek Ranch set, according to two knowledgeable people.
The scene involved a gun fight that began in the church, and then Baldwin’s character was supposed to back out of the church, according to production notes obtained by the L.A. Times. It was the 12th day of a 21-day shoot.