Hannah Gutierrez Reed, a pair of ‘Rust’ guns, expresses shock

As a gunsmith on film sets, Hannah Gutierrez Reed often encountered actors and crew members who were afraid of guns. But the part of her job that she enjoyed most was helping to change that narrative, showing the world that “guns are great.”

“I think the best part of my job is just to show people who are normally a little freaked out about guns how safe they can be and how not really problematic unless they from being put in the wrong hands, ”Reed said in a podcast interview in September.

A month later, his words became haunting. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust” on Thursday after the actor was given a propeller pistol allegedly prepared by Reed. On the set of western New Mexico, Reed was responsible for overseeing all guns – making sure they were handled only by designated people, making sure they were loaded at the right time with the right projectiles. and teaching actors how to safely interact with them.

At 24, Reed didn’t have much experience in this field. “Rust” was only his second film as a senior gunsmith – and as details of the set emerged, many actors in the film industry questioned his hiring; filming took place just hours after the crew left the set, citing safety complaints and misfires.

On that day, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office search warrant affidavit obtained by the Associated Press, Reed prepared the three propeller pistols that were to be used in a scene from Baldwin. Deputy Warden Dave Halls seized one of those guns and handed it to Baldwin before the accident happened, according to the affidavit.

Calls to Reed and other members of the “Rust” crew – including the property master who oversaw his work, Sarah Zachry – were not returned. But the prop master who oversaw Reed during his first job as a gunsmith in August came to his defense on Saturday, although he admitted he was initially skeptical of his abilities.

Although Reed is the daughter of a veteran gunsmith respected throughout the film industry, “The Old Way” – a Nicolas Cage western that was filmed for four weeks in Montana in August – included so many shootouts that the master props Jeffrey W. Crow insisted that the producers hire someone to focus specifically on the armory.

“I told them there was no way for anyone to make props and armory out of a sniper film safely because there were too many guns,” remembers Crow, who supervised Reed on “The Old Way”. “All the gunsmiths I know and tried to get to work were already working, so I left it to the producers. I had never heard of Hannah until I was informed that she would be my gunsmith, but my skepticism of her at first, about her inexperience, subsided after I have worked with her.

Crow said he was still “blocked” by the fact that Reed could have played a role in the fatal shooting on the set of “Rust” in New Mexico. The interview with Crow was conducted ahead of the publication of a Daily Beast story in which two anonymous sources said there had been worrying gun safety issues on the set of “The Old Way.” According to the report, Reed handed child actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong a gun without properly checking the gun first. Armstrong’s parents did not respond to calls from The Times.

Crow insisted that Reed was scrupulous.

“Working with Hannah, I’m surprised that all of this happened under her watch,” Crow said. “I thought she was an exceptionally young, promising, very enthusiastic and talented gunsmith. She didn’t have a lot of experience, but coming from her family line I thought she was exceptional, professional, and I thought she had – I still think she has – many years of a career. incredible in front of her.

Reed grew up on Hollywood sets, often accompanied by her father, a former Marine who was Brad Pitt’s gun trainer on “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and served as ‘Django Unchained’ quick draw expert. She said her favorite childhood memory with her father was visiting the set of the 2007 movie “3:10 to Yuma” when she was around 10 years old.

“He took me out of fifth grade for two weeks and just got to run around,” Reed recalls in September on the “Voices of the West” podcast. “It made me instantly say, ‘I want to make movies when I’m older. “I used to delay crafting [services] with little plastic guns and things and say, ‘Give me your pistachios!’ “

Her father took her “to be completely green and taught me everything,” she continued, noting that he had bought her a Colt Peacemaker pistol to use in addition to the Walther P22 she already owned. .

In 1959, the Petaluma Argus-Courier named the then 15-year-old Thell Reed – who grew up in Downey – as one of the fastest guns in the world. The claim came after he unsheathed and fired a .38 pistol in 8/100 of a second, meaning he “could draw and kill a Billy the Kid while he started blinking,” according to the story. Thell became Evel Knievel’s bodyguard and “drinking buddy”, the Times reported in 1982. He also worked as a sniper at a Gene Autry road show and has already won 50,000. $ in a one-on-one shootout in Texas.

Despite her experience with her father, Hannah Gutierrez Reed admitted that she was so anxious about being a chief gunsmith on “The Old Way” that she “almost didn’t take the job because I didn’t. was not sure if I was ready. ” Loading blanks into guns was “the scariest thing” for her, she said in the podcast interview, until her father helped her train her.

On set, she said, she was often judged for her age and gender. Lots of actors walked into the prop department and looked at Crow instead of her, expecting him to be the gunsmith, she said, “I would say, ‘Don’t look at him. Look at me.'”

“I don’t do anything unless I’m the best at it, really,” Reed said on the podcast, adding that she drives a Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. “I am quite competitive. I hope to grow up to the point where I’m pretty much just an untouchable person who has all the knowledge of everything.

Reed studied Cinematography and Film Production at Northern Arizona University, where she graduated in 2020, according to her LinkedIn profile. While in college, she worked as a videographer for an electronic music company and made documentary films for the city of Flagstaff, Arizona.

After “The Old Way,” she was to work on a new Cage film – “Butcher’s Crossing” – as an assistant gunsmith, but the position was cut, Crow said.

Although he declined to speculate on what might have happened on the set of “Rust,” Crow said he hoped Reed would ultimately be exonerated.

“It’s not a typical role for a woman – especially a young woman,” he said. “I trusted her a lot, and I still do. I would be surprised if there was something she was responsible for in all of this, just seeing how she has acted in the past. This is all such a surprise.

Times researcher Cary Schneider contributed to this report.

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