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Who Was Halyna Hutchins? Rust Cinematographer Was A 'Rising Star' Before Her Tragic Death

Rust Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Was A Rising Star Filmmaker At The Time Of Her Tragic Death

The entertainment world is obviously still grappling with the unimaginable tragedy that took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Thursday when cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by a bullet from a prop gun on the set of the western film Rust.

As we’ve been reporting, Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured after actor Alec Baldwin “discharged” a prop gun on set while filming, and a projectile actually came out.

Related: Alec Baldwin Breaks Silence About Tragic Accidental Shooting Death On The Set Of ‘Rust’

Now, as the Santa Fe Police Department continues to investigate the shocking incident, we are learning more about the 42-year-old director of photography, who was leading the visuals for the project.

Here’s what we are learning about Hutchins:

Ukrainian-Born, She Was Bilingual

On her website, Hutchins revealed that she’d been born in Ukraine, and fascinatingly, grew up “on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle.” She was bilingual, speaking both Russian and English, and initially graduated with a degree in journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine before working for a time as an investigative journalist, and later with British-based documentary productions throughout Europe.

Eventually, she settled into her career as a cinematographer, even taking work early on in fashion photography in order to “learn the aesthetics of lighting — how you create the mood, the feeling.”

<i>Rust</i> Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Was A Rising Star Filmmaker At The Time Of Her Tragic Death
Hutchins posed here for an October 2020 selfie. / (c) Halyna Hutchins/Instagram

A Rising Star In The Industry

The late artist was regarded as a very talented, up-and-coming star director of photography and filmmaker in the industry, making her tragic and untimely death all the more sad. According to her own website, the graduated from the American Film Institute back in 2015, and had since worked on a series of narrative shorts and features.

In 2019, she was named one of 8 Female Cinematographers for the 21st Century Fox DP Lab, and was featured as a “Rising Star” in American Cinematographer. Speaking to that same magazine about her career, she previously said:

“One thing I learned is that cinematography is not something you do by yourself. It’s a group [project]. You need to develop your own vision, but the key to a successful film is communication with your director and your team.”

She Had An Impressive Body Of Work

Even relatively early in her career, Halyna had accomplished a remarkable amount.

Her Instagram page and website are both full of stills and clips from projects she’d proudly worked on, including several feature-length releases — Snowbound in ColoradoDarlin’, and Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Halyna Hutchins (@halynahutchins)

Speaking to American Cinematographer back in 2019 about her impressive early work, she explained:

“Right now, I’m just really interested in finding fruitful collaborations. To me, it’s the collaborative effort between creative minds that elevate each other’s work.”

Also in 2019, Darlin’ premiered at the SXSW Film Festival — a major achievement for Hutchins and everyone else involved on the project. Another film she’d worked on as a Director of Photography, Sunday’s Child, was accepted to be screened at several films festivals, too.

She Stood In Solidarity

Several days before her death, Halyna re-shared a post from actress Frances Fisher showing the whole cast and crew on the set of Rust and their solidarity with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, known as the IATSE (below):


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Halyna Hutchins (@halynahutchins)

Hutchins, who herself was a member of the Cinematographers Guild, showed her support for the IATSE, which recently put pressure on Hollywood with a historic strike against the industry’s producers seeking better pay and working conditions.

By Wednesday, that strike appeared to have been averted with a tentative new contract agreement made between parties. Even so, it’s clear Hutchins — like most of the rest of Hollywood’s artists and filmmakers — clearly stood in support of the others around her working so hard behind the scenes on film projects.

She Loved Her Job And Life…

In her final social media post, published the day before her tragic death, Hutchins showed off her infectious love of life and her gratitude for working on the New Mexico-based project.

As you can see (below), she took some time during a day off from filming to ride horses and enjoy the crisp outdoor air in The Land of Enchantment:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Halyna Hutchins (@halynahutchins)

So sad…

Sending all our love to Hutchins’ family, friends, and loved ones during this awful time.


[Image via Halyna Hutchins/Instagram]

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Oct 22, 2021 11:23am PDT