Halyna Hutchins remembered as a gifted cinematographer

NEW YORK – Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins who was shot dead by Alec Baldwin has traveled far in her 42 years. She grew up on a remote Soviet military base and worked on documentary films in Eastern Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a promising career as a filmmaker.

Cutchins was shot on Thursday with a propeller pistol on the set of Western “Rust” near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Court records released on Friday indicated that a deputy warden had handed Baldwin a loaded gun and told him it was safe to use. The detectives were investigating.

On her Instagram page, Hutchins identified herself as a “restless dreamer” and an “adrenaline junkie”. In recent days, she has posted several images from the shoot, including an early morning photo of a cloudy sky in the desert, a video of her riding on a day off, and a photo of the crew gathered to express his solidarity with union members. Members of the IATSE union were seeking a new contract and threatened to strike before a deal was reached last weekend.

According to her website, she grew up on the Soviet base in the Arctic Circle and was “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines.” She received a postgraduate degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine, worked on British documentary productions in Eastern Europe, and graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. She leaves mourns her husband, Matthew Hutchins, with whom she had a son. .

“She had an interesting background, and I think it gave a unique perspective on the world,” said one of her AFI teachers, Bill Dill. “She brought a lot of experience to the process of making a film.”

In a 2019 interview with American Cinematographer, who named her one of the rising stars of the year, she described herself as an “army kid” drawn to movies because “he didn’t there was not much to do outside ”. She would document herself by parachuting and exploring caves, among other adventures, and through her work with British filmmakers, she became “fascinated by storytelling based on real characters”.

After moving to the United States, she took on any production assistant job she could find and explored fashion photography to learn more about “the aesthetics of lighting – how to create the light. ‘atmosphere, the feeling’. In 2013, she was accepted into a two-year program at the AFI Conservatory. The school’s chair of cinematography was remembered for his dedication to the craft.

“She was very thoughtful about the decision, and it wasn’t an easy decision. All film schools are expensive and that was no exception, ”he said. “We were very impressed with her. I remember telling him, ‘You won’t have much time for your family in your first year at AFI.’ And she understood it. She was working really hard.

Stephen Pizzello, editor and publisher of American Cinematographer and close friend of Hutchins, said she not only had a “cheerful spirit” but a keen sense of how to network in the film industry. She was “tireless in improving her skills and being in the right places”, a regular at “industry events and parties”.

“Everyone liked him,” he says.

Prior to “Rust,” her credits included the crime drama “Blindfire” and the horror film “Darlin,” which director Pollyanna McIntosh posted on Instagram that she was “the most talented, in the trenches, a wonderful artist and committed teammate. ”Director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with her on the 2020 thriller“ Archenemy, ”said she had a strong sense of confidence and an inspiring openness to challenges. He remembers a day on set when an actor had to leave and the rest of the crew had to work around him.

“Halyna was excited,” said Mortimer, who recalls asking if they would shoot the scenes “European style,” meaning they would improvise.

Cinematographer Andriy Semenyuk, a fellow Ukrainian who met Hutchins a few years ago through friends, recalled how she had greeted him and brought him to some of her assignments. He called her a mentor with a “magnetizing” personality who was distinguished by her willingness to help others.

“I think the big deal about her in general, beyond being extremely talented – which is a fact – is just her generous and really open personality,” he said. “In the film industry, which is super competitive, it is not enough to have talent. It’s good to have this human and endearing personality.


AP Film writer Lindsey Bahr and AP Entertainment writer Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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