'I wasn't sure if I was ready': Doubts of 24-year-old head armorer

‘I wasn’t sure if I was ready’: Doubts of 24-year-old head armorer who was in charge of guns on Alec Baldwin film after being brought up by her legendary gunsmith father – as crew tell how they walked off set over safety

  • Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls were named in search warrant on Friday
  • Gutierrez-Reed, 24, laid out three guns, and Halls picked up a Colt pistol and handed it to Baldwin
  • ‘Cold gun!’ shouted Halls, a veteran assistant director who worked on Fargo and The Matrix Reloaded
  • When Baldwin pulled the trigger, a bullet was fired, killing the cinematographer and injuring the director
  • Gutierrez-Reed is the daughter of legendary Hollywood armorer Thell Reed who trained her from a young age
  • She recently served as head armorer on a film for the first time, on The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage 
  • In a podcast interview after filming ended, she said she wasn’t sure if she was ready to be a head armorer 
  • Meanwhile, troubling reports highlight safety concerns on the set of Baldwin’s Western film, Rust 
  • Production crew on the set of Rust walked out on Thursday morning in a row over safety and long hours 
  • On Thursday, when they arrived to pack up, they found a team of non-union workers waiting to replace them
  • Halyna Hutchins decided to stay on the set and film with Alec Baldwin and the film director Joel Souza 
  • She had been advocating on behalf of her team for better working conditions, but was killed by the bullet

The 24-year-old head armorer in charge of guns on Alec Baldwin film where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed on Thursday had admitted she wasn’t sure she was ready for the job in an interview before filming started. 

‘I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said in a podcast interview last month after leading the firearms department for The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage – her first time as head armorer.   

She also admitted in the podcast interview she found loading blanks into a gun ‘the scariest’ thing because she did not know how to do it and had sought help from her father to get over the fear.  

It comes as film crew revealed they walked off set hours before the fatal accident over safety fears after firearms were accidentally discharged three times – including once by Baldwin’s stunt double who had been told the gun was not loaded, and twice in a closed cabin. 

A search warrant released Friday said that Gutierrez-Reed laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location, and first assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds. 

‘Cold gun!’ shouted Halls before handing the gun to Baldwin, using the phrase to signal to cast and crew that the gun was safe to fire for the scene, the warrant said. 

Seconds later, filming a scene inside an Old West-style church, Baldwin apparently aimed towards the camera and pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Hutchins as she filmed him, and injuring director Joel Souza, who stood behind her. 

Neither Halls nor Gutierrez-Reed immediately returned messages from DailyMail.com late on Friday. Neither has been charged or named as a criminal suspect in the case, though a police investigation is ongoing.  

The movie, set in 1880’s Kansas, stars Baldwin as the infamous outlaw Harland Rust, whose grandson is sentenced to hang for an accidental murder.  

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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old head armorer in charge of guns on Alec Baldwin film where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed on Thursday had admitted she ‘wasn’t sure she was ready’ for the job in an interview before filming started

A search warrant released Friday said that armorer Hannah Gutierrez (left) laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location, and assistant director Dave Halls (right) grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin

An aerial view of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, where the movie was being filmed. Workers had been protesting over the fact production wouldn’t pay for them to stay in hotels and motels in Sante Fe, instead forcing them to drive an hour to Albuquerque   

An inconsolable Alec Baldwin is shown, left, yesterday outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after accidentally shooting and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, right. They were among few original workers on set after others walked off earlier in the day in a union row

The gun that fired the fatal shot was a vintage-style Colt revolver, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.

Halls is a veteran assistant director with scores of credits on productions involving prop guns, including Fargo, The Matrix Reloaded, and the TV cop comedy Reno 911. 

In 2000, Halls was the second unit’s first assistant director on The Crow: Salvation, the sequel to the film in which Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee was killed in an on-set firearms mishap in 1993.  

The warrant also said that a single bullet struck Hutchins in the chest, and then struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder as he was standing behind her, injuring him, suggesting the bullet traveled all the way through Hutchins’ body. 

After the shooting, the armorer took possession of the gun and a spent casing, which were turned over to police, along with other prop guns and ammunition used on the set. 

Baldwin also changed out of the Western costume he was wearing, which was stained with blood, and turned it over to police.

The warrant does not reveal the model or caliber of the prop gun that fired the fatal bullet, but the film is set in the Old West of the 1880s and DailyMail.com has learned it was a Colt.

The warrant was obtained Friday so that investigators could document the scene at the ranch where the shooting took place. 

Unionized workers had walked off the set hours before the fatal shooting, after they complained about long hours, shoddy conditions and another safety incident days earlier involving ‘two misfires’ of a prop weapon. 

A yet-unnamed prop master who oversaw the gun used in the fatal shooting was a non-union worker who was ‘just brought in’ to replace the workers who left over safety concerns, a source involved in the movie told the New York Post.

It’s unclear whether Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, had recently joined the production, or was one of the crew members who stayed behind after the walk-off. 

However, a link in her Instagram bio points to an article about Rust from May, suggesting she had been attached to the production for some time. 

Unionized employees had been complaining about the fact they had to stay overnight in Albuquerque – an hour’s drive from the set – and not Sante Fe because production wouldn’t pay for their hotels, according to sources cited by The Los Angeles Times and multiple social media posts by film and TV insiders. 

When they turned up to set to clear their things on Thursday, they found they’d been replaced by locals. 

It begs the question of who those local workers were, what their training was and to what extent did they check the weapon before it was handed to Baldwin.  

Deadline also cites an unnamed source who said a gun had gone off ‘in a cabin’ while someone was holding it, days prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

‘A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin. They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off,’ they said, apparently referring to unintentional discharges.   

Rust Production LLC did not respond to repeated requests for comment from DailyMail.com on Friday about the incident, but members of the union that represents many of the crew who were involved in the production said they had expressed fears about on-set safety. 

It is the same union that had been threatened to galvanize an industry-wide strike in protest over poor working conditions including low pay and laxed safety. IATSE Local 44 – whose members were involved in the Rust production – said in a statement to its members that no union members were on the set on Thursday.   

One text message that was circulating on social media, shared repeatedly by union members, refers to a ‘walk out’ by staff the day before the tragedy.   

The text message claims that Halyna was one of the few people who decided to stay. She belonged to IATSE Local 600 and had been campaigning for better conditions for her team when she was killed. 

One person who was involved with the production posted on social media that crew had been sleeping in their cars at the movie set because they were too tired to drive the one-hour back to Albuquerque after grueling days. 

The movie does not have a large budget like other productions, and one experienced prop master who was offered the job turned it down because it wasn’t paying enough for her to take the job. 

Production of the film has stopped now in light of the tragedy. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is investigating and ‘collecting evidence’, a spokesman said on Friday 

Union members vented on social media before the tragedy about the poor conditions on the set of the film. They talked about having to sleep in their cars at the set rather than make the drive back to Albuquerque because they were too exhausted

DailyMail.com spoke with the crew member who ranted on social media about the deplorable work conditions that led union members to walk out hours before the fatal accident.

‘I am literally on the show in New Mexico with him and the producers on that movie are treating the local crew like f**king dog sh*t,’ he wrote in one post earlier this week.

‘At the moment I’m fighting to get my crew, on this movie, hotel rooms when we go long or are too tired to drive the hour back from location to Albuquerque,’ he wrote in another. ‘They either say no or offer a garbage roadside motel….’

Reached by DailyMail.com and shown the posts in question, the member, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., didn’t deny he wrote them. But he wouldn’t answer follow-up questions, saying he didn’t want to interfere with the police investigation.

‘I can’t speak to anything until I know that the police have the strongest possible case against the people who are ultimately responsible for this,’ he told DailyMail.com.

EXCLUSIVE: Fatal gun in movie shooting was vintage Colt revolver  

The gun that killed filmmaker Halyna Hutchins was a vintage-style Colt revolver, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.

Alec Baldwin was handling the vintage gun on the set of Rust in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when it fired a live round – killing mom-of-one Hutchins, 42, and wounding director Joel Souza.

According to a call sheet obtained by DailyMail.com, Baldwin was taking part in a mock gunfight inside the church building on the Bonanza Ranch film set when Hutchins was hit on Thursday.

A vintage Colt Dragoon from the 1800s is seen. The fatal gun was a Colt, but the model and caliber are sill unclear 

Co-stars Jensen Ackles, Swen Temmel and Travis Hammer were also in the scene – numbered 121 – alongside Baldwin’s stunt double Blake Teixeira and stunt coordinator Allan Graf.

Production notes show the Colt pistol was one of several weapons on set at the time but the only one used in 121 and the preceding 118.

Filming had been due to continue with a scene that showed Baldwin being thrown into a stagecoach but it was halted following the accident.

Further scenes featuring Baldwin and Ackles had been scheduled for Friday and over the weekend but have now been postponed indefinitely.

Zak Knight, a pyrotechnic and special effects engineer who is a member of Local 44, told DailyMail.com on Friday that he’d heard from others involved in the production that there was a walk-out. 

‘It’s very possible that the union members said ‘we’re out’, and they brought in people to fill the positions on the fly. There’s a lot of grey area.’

He added that different gun laws between New Mexico and California may have also contributed to the accident. In California, both a trained armorer and a prop master is required on a film set and those are the standards the union adheres to as well.

‘You will find the best and most well-trained individuals in Los Angeles. You can’t guarantee that as you go across the country,’ he told DailyMail.com on Friday.

In the days before the tragedy, IATSE had been threatening a large-scale strike that would have crippled Hollywood production. Among the complaints were overworking staff and poor rates. Baldwin recorded a video of himself encouraging the union members to strike if they felt they needed to, saying studio bosses ‘don’t give a f**k about you’, that the union shared online.

‘There’s a direct correlation between maintaining a safe set and the hours that we work. At a certain time there’s no such thing as a safe set if we’re all exhausted,’ Knight, a special effects artist, said. 

Whatever happened in the moments leading up to her death, Knight said it was caused by a ‘cascade of failures’ by multiple people.

‘We have a hard and fast rule that no live ammunition ever goes into a prop truck or set at any time. We just don’t do it. 

‘If you see bullets on set they are complete dummy rounds and are in no way functional. This goes back to Brandon Lee. There’s protocol. 

‘There should have never been live rounds on a movie set, that’s number one. Number two is every single person on a movie set has a right to inspect a weapon before it’s fired. And number three is, there is no reason to ever put a person in front of a weapon that’s firing.

‘Anytime you see a movie where the barrel is pointed down the camera lens, there should not be an operator behind it. It’s obvious that the considerations of this resulted in that gun being pointed directly at two people.

‘We would have additionally had a barrier between them. 

‘A large number of people failed to do our protocols… every accident is a cascade of events,’ he said.  

A vehicle from the Office of the Medical Investigator enters the front gate leading to the Bonanza Creek Ranch on Friday, after Rust Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured on set

One Santa Fe prop master told DailyMail.com that had the gun been checked properly before it was handed to Baldwin, the tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. 

‘If they’d done their job checking the weapon this wouldn’t have happened. You show the assistant director the weapon, you show the actor the weapon, you show everybody it’s a safe weapon. There’s a big chain of command that missed an opportunity to save a life.’

Rust Productions LLC has opened an internal investigation into what happened but will not comment on the specifics. 

A Sante Fe County Sheriff Department spokesman said on Friday afternoon: ‘The investigation remains active and open. Witnesses continue to be interviewed and evidence collected.’ 

In addition to the criminal probe, New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is investigating Hutchins’ death, and could impose civil penalties even if no charges are brought in the case.

‘Our state OSHA program is investigating this,’ Rebecca Roose, deputy cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department,’ told Deadline. 

‘The state takes all workplace safety issues very seriously and will work diligently through our investigation of this tragic fatality.’ 

Baldwin, 63, tweeted on Friday afternoon to say he had spoken with the victim’s husband and that he was fully cooperating with law enforcement. 

‘There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours. 

‘I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. 

‘My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna,’ he said.

He was pictured doubled over in grief on Thursday after speaking to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department. 

The workers were angry that they weren’t being put up in Sante Fe, the town nearest the ranch where they were shooting, and instead were being told to drive every night to Albuquerque after long shifts. Some said they were sleeping in their cars at the set to avoid it 

Baldwin and Hutchins (circled) are pictured together on the set of Rust, in an image that she uploaded to Instagram two days ago saying the crew of the film were supporting a strike by the IATSE union

Hutchins’ husband Matthew told DailyMail.com on Friday exclusively: ‘I have spoken with Alec Baldwin. He is being very supportive’  

The Baldwin family’s nanny was pictured packing up their SUV outside the family’s NYC home on Friday but there was no sign of the actor’s wife Hilaria 

Baldwin’s wife Hilaria posted this screenshot of them FaceTiming on Thursday before the tragedy 

Hutchins’ grieving husband Matthew told DailyMail.com on Friday morning that he had spoken with the actor. 

‘I have spoken with Alec Baldwin and he is being very supportive,’ he said.  

Baldwin was heard on set asking people around him why he’d been handed a ‘hot gun’. 

‘In all my years, I’ve never been handed a hot gun,’ he was heard saying. 

Last month, actor Jensen Ackles told a conference in Denver how he’d been able to ‘choose’ his own gun from the female armorer in a haphazard training session. It was not clear whether he was referring to Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer named in the search warrant.

‘They had me pick my gun. They were like, ‘Alright, what gun would you like?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know’, and the armorer was like, ‘Do you have gun experience?’ I was like, ‘A little’, she was like, ‘This is how you load it…check it’s safe. Do you want it hip drawn or cross drawn?’ I was like ‘cross drawn, that sounds fun’.’

‘So she’s like, ‘I’ll just put some blanks in there and just fire a couple of rounds towards the hill.’

‘I walk out and she’s like, ‘Just make sure you pull the hammer all the way back and aim at your target’. 

‘I was like alright I got it,’ he said. 

It’s unclear where Baldwin is now. There was no sign of his wife, Hilaria, outside their New York City apartment on Friday but a nanny was pictured loading up their SUV.

The production employed ’73 New Mexican crew, 22 New Mexico principal actors, and 230 New Mexico background talent’ according to a press release issued earlier this month. 

According to the prop masters’ union email, the ‘Props, Set Decoration, Special Effects and Construction Departments were staffed by New Mexico crew members’ – none of whom belonged to the union.  

Actor Jensen Ackles told last month how he’d received haphazard gun training on the film set. He talked about being able to choose his own gun, and how the unnamed female armorer loaded it with blanks then shot it at a hill before asking him how he’d like to draw the weapon and then letting him shoot. A photo he posted from the set is shown, right 

An image taken on the set of Rust shows cast and crew members receiving a safety briefing before filming stunts. The image was uploaded to Instagram a week ago

In the days before the tragedy, IATSE had been threatening a large-scale strike that would have crippled Hollywood production.

Among the complaints were overworking staff and poor rates. Baldwin recorded a video of himself encouraging the union members to strike if they felt they needed to, saying studio bosses ‘don’t give a f**k about you’, that the union shared online. 

The tragedy is reminiscent of the 1993 accident on the set of The Crow, when Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was shot and killed by a fellow actor. 

The film crew in that accident thought the gun was loaded with dummy bullets and blanks, but an autopsy revealed Lee had a .44 caliber bullet lodged in his spine. Investigators in that shooting also probed the theory that a dummy cartridge got stuck in the barrel before the second was fired – a known hazard in shooting which can cause serious injuries or death when the second round is fired.  

Will Baldwin face charges? Legal experts tell DailyMail.com massive civil suit is a virtual certainty, but say any criminal prosecution would likely focus on whoever prepared the prop gun 

By Keith Griffith for DailyMail.com 

Legal experts tell DailyMail.com lawsuits naming Alec Baldwin are a virtual certainty, but that any potential criminal charges are more likely to center on whoever loaded the gun

Legal experts tell DailyMail.com that following Halyna Hutchins’ death, lawsuits naming Alec Baldwin are a virtual certainty, but that any potential criminal charges are more likely to center on whoever loaded the gun.

Baldwin said Friday that his killing of a cinematographer with a prop gun on a movie set was a ‘tragic accident’ as authorities investigated the shooting, which also wounded the director.

Hutchins, the cinematographer on the Western movie Rust, was killed and director Joel Souza was shot and injured on Thursday in the desert on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

A spokesperson for Baldwin said a prop gun with blanks ‘misfired’. A spokesman for the Santa Fe County sheriff said detectives were investigating what type of projectile was discharged and how. No immediate charges were filed.

Key facts in the case have not yet been publicly confirmed, including how and why a projectile was expelled. 

‘If Baldwin or another person was negligent, a civil suit is almost a no-brainer at this point — a very high likelihood,’ attorney Jamie White, who has experience in both criminal defense and civil prosecutions, told DailyMail.com.

‘It is not likely that it was Baldwin’s job to prepare props. There are other parties associated with putting those things in motion,’ he added. 

‘As the facts have thus far been presented, Baldwin will not be charged with an intentional act of violence,’ said White. 

A distraught Alec Baldwin lingers in the parking lot outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, after he was questioned about a shooting on the set of the film Rust on the outskirts of Santa Fe

A news cameraman records the entrance of the Santa Fe County Sheriff office in Santa Fe on Friday. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the Bonanza Creek Film Ranch, killing the cinematographer, officials said

‘However, it is not unheard of to be charged with significant negligence. There are a lot more facts that need to be developed, but studios take extensive cautions in light of Brandon Lee’s death in 1993,’ he said, referring to the actor killed by a squib load on the set of The Crow.

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio said that as the facts that are known stand, ‘liability certainly points to Rust Movie Productions and the prop manager.’

Custodio noted that any lawsuit is likely to name Baldwin, however, due to his role as a producer of the movie as well as an actor. 

‘As the actor, Alec Baldwin has little liability because you’re given something and you’re trusting the prop manager to have checked everything out,’ he said. ‘Baldwin the producer may bear more responsibility, depending on if he is just an investor or has a more active role in the making of the film, which I suspect he does.’ 

‘Overall, this is horrible negligence and Ms. Hutchins’ survivors should go after everyone they can,’ added Custodio. ‘It’s likely they’ll go after Baldwin the actor, Baldwin the producer, the film company and the prop manager.’

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said that criminal charges are possible in the case, but that a murder charge is unlikely. 

‘A charge of murder is unlikely because it requires the intent to kill. There is no evidence that Baldwin indeed intended to kill,’ said Rahmani.

‘A manslaughter charge might be more likely, because it does not require intent to kill, but does require criminal negligence or gross negligence,’ he added. ‘In this case, there are reports that the prop gun was loaded with live rounds. If that is true, that is grossly negligent, and whoever loaded the gun is going to be responsible.

‘Baldwin, if he had no knowledge whatsoever that the gun was loaded with a live round instead of a blank, wouldn’t have any criminal liability,’ said Rahmani.

Props expert Guillaume Delouche at Independent Studio Services holds a prop gun while explaining them in Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles on Friday. It’s still unclear what kind of prop gun was involved in Thursday’s fatal shooting

Rahmani said that if a live round were loaded by mistake, its likely to be a case of simple negligence, which would not bring criminal liability.

‘There is a rare circumstance where there can be criminal charges without any knowledge that the round was live,’ he said.

‘That’s when there’s deliberate indifference or willful ignorance. It’s very hard to prove, which is why these types of prosecutions are rare.’

‘It comes down to what was in the gun, who put it in, and what did he or she know when they put the round in there,’ added Rahmani. ‘If it was a blank, even blanks can be dangerous when discharged at close distances. That can be grossly negligent.’

Custodio speculated that any civil suit brought by the family of Hutchins was likely to seek a large amount of damages. 

‘She was 42 and had an incredibly promising future, so her potential earnings were likely to be significant,’ he said.

‘It’s also clear that somebody failed her in the most basic way — to check whether a gun was safe — and may be criminally negligent,’ added Custodio. ‘And remember, director Joel Souza also was injured, and many others on set also are traumatized and affected by this.’    

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but police say an active investigation is underway. Baldwin has pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation. 

‘Kind and loving’ cinematographer killed in Alec Baldwin tragedy: Ukraine-born married mother Halyna Hutchins, 42, was raised on a Soviet military base surrounded by nuclear submarines, trained as a journalist and was tipped as a rising star in Hollywood

Sun streaming from above, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins smiles into the camera as she films herself riding off into the New Mexico desert on horseback.

This was the last Instagram post shared by the married mother-of-one before she was accidentally killed by actor Alec Baldwin when he fired a prop gun while filming a scene for an upcoming Western on a ranch near Santa Fe.

Born in Ukraine and raised on a Soviet military base ‘surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines’, Halyna, 42, had trained as a journalist and spent time in Europe working on British documentaries before making the move to Los Angeles, where she had established her career – and started a family. 

Born in Ukraine and raised on a Soviet military base ‘surrounded by reindeer and submarines’, Halyna had recently wrapped on a project in Ireland and was tipped for a bright future in Hollywood when her life was so tragically cut short. Pictured, in 2018

Her social media profiles also paint a clear image of a free-spirited, much-loved friend, many of whom have been paying tribute. Pictured, a touching post by close friend Stephanie

Remembered by friends as a ‘kind’ and ‘loving soul’, Halyna lived in Venice Beach, California, with her husband Matthew, a lawyer, and their son Andros, known affectionately as her ‘little man’ and thought to be around nine years old. 

‘Halyna loved him so much and enjoyed watching him grow into the handsome boy he is today,’ one friend wrote in a moving Instagram tribute. ‘I know she is looking after him and Matt in this horribly scary time.’

Social media photos capture a playfulness and sense of adventure, with Halloween costume parties, road trips with friends and days out exploring all lit up by Halyna’s smile. 

She was also highly regarded by her peers and had been tipped as a ‘rising star’ by other cinematographers. ‘She was somebody who was absolutely dedicated to art and integrity,’ director, colleague and friend Adam Mortimer told GMB this morning. ‘I can tell already she was going to be a genius.’ 

Halya (right) on a visit back to Kiev in December 2018. She was raised on a military base in the country and later attended the National University of Kyiv, studying International Journalism

Remembered by friends as a ‘kind’ and ‘loving soul’, Halyna lived in Venice Beach, California , with her husband Matthew, a lawyer, and their son Andros, pictured in an old Facebook photo

Baldwin, 62, was filming a scene for new film Rust when the gun went off around 1.50pm, fatally wounding Hutchins and leaving writer-director Joel Souza, 48, injured. The incident took place at at Bonanza Creek Ranch.

Hutchins was rushed to the University of New Mexico Hospital in an air ambulance but was pronounced dead a short time after. 

Souza was taken by ambulance to the Christus St Vincent Regional Medical Center. He has since been released although his exact condition is unclear.

Will Stewart, Daily Mail’s Moscow correspondent, told how Halyna had worked for him in the mid-2000s. 

‘This is devastating and incomprehensible news about the death of Halyna Hutchins. She worked for my news agency from Kyiv for several years in the mid-2000s after graduating from a local university in International Journalism.

‘Halyna was involved in many stories for British newspapers and magazines, but she showed a special talent for documentaries, perhaps her first taste of film in which she went on to be so successful in America.

‘At this time while she was with us, in 2006, she was Associate Producer on a documentary for Discovery Channel on Ukrainian icon Leonid Stadnyk called World’s Tallest Man, made by British company Wild Pictures.

‘She was instrumental in Mr Stadnyk feeling at ease taking part in the documentary which focused on the problems of being exceptionally tall.

‘The film, made by leading British director Richard Denton, with former BBC Head of Documentaries Paul Hamann as executive producer, would not have happened without her.

‘Mr Stadnyk, a shy man, trusted Halyna after refusing many other film offers, and thanked her afterwards.

‘Pictures ahead of the film shows him towering over Halyna at his home in the village of Podoliantsy.

‘She later went to the US with her husband Matt and accomplished great things through her huge talent and creativity but also her relentless determination to study and learn.

‘She once told my Russian colleagues that she felt she was a perpetual student in America, but her efforts paid off and she achieved the success she thoroughly deserved.

‘It is tragic that she died in such a cruel and inexplicable way while doing the job she so loved.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Matt and their son, and Halyna’s family in Ukraine.’

Richard Denton, producer behind Shakespeare Uncovered and many films in the former USSR, said today: ‘Halyna was the most wonderful, vital, lively and positive person to work with.

‘She was friendly and enormously helpful. She handled everything from translating interviews to making Leonid’s horse move in the right direction.

‘She was completely unpretentious and incredibly professional.’

Her death was ‘senseless and stupid.’

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