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"Huge mistakes happen." Juliette Lewis and Kristen Bell's warning five days before the Rust shooting.

Just five days before the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, actor Juliette Lewis issued an eerie warning about on-set conditions.

Showing support for disgruntled crew members on entertainment sets, Lewis said actors needed to show support for the people who keep the industry going. 

She spoke of intense, toxic working environments, writing that if complaints from International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union members were not met, she could see more accidents happening on sets.

October has been a tense month in Hollywood, with IATSE, one of the industries biggest unions, threatening to strike over issues gruelling work conditions, pay and health and pension plans.

Tragically, the union is now dealing with the aftermath of the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.

The Rust film set at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Image: Getty.

It has emerged that unionised camera crew - members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees union - walked off the Rust set just six hours before the fatal incident, after weeks of complaints over working conditions and safety. 

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While they were packing up, nonunionised crew turned up to keep production going.

Six hours later, Hutchins was shot when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun, which he had been told was a 'cold gun' that did not contain ammunition. Hutchins was hit in the chest, and director Joel Souza in the shoulder. 

Image: Getty.

Throughout the month, many stars have showed public support for members of IATSE, which represents 150,000 camera crews, technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, acknowledging that without these people, the industry could not function.

One such show of support came from Lewis, which has also been shared widely by other stars including Florence Pugh, Emma Roberts, and Kristen Bell.

In her October 16 post, Lewis lamented the working conditions on many sets.

"I personally was conditioned in [the] TV/film business since [I was] a teenager to never take a sick day off, or it would cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you'd be labelled 'problematic,'" Lewis wrote.

"So much so I've worked through a flu, I've worked through migraines, I've worked through walking pneumonia on Natural Born Killers for two weeks where I thought I might die.

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"Apparently that was always better than speaking up and having them simply shift their schedule around to accommodate a person's health. Because it just didn't happen."

Lewis said as an actor, she thought the crews had a 'soldier-like' work ethic as they were expected to turn up hours before she needed to and stayed hours after she had left.

"All you have to do is read the IATSE stories to see producers are still asking human beings to work tirelessly and work miracles constantly to 'save them money', rather than create schedules that are doable without this constant pressure," Lewis wrote.

This could have disastrous consequences, which she'd personally seen in the form of pyrotechnics blowing up a set.

"When people are overworked and exhausted, huge mistakes happen."

Addressing other actors, she said "we all thought ''if I am this overworked and under pressure, how are they still standing on two feet?"

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She ended her message by imploring actors, producers and executives to "show-up for the backbone of our industry" in their overdue request for better work conditions.

Bell reposted the message to her Instagram feed, adding: "None of us actors would be anywhere without our crews. It’s time for us to join their fight for humane treatment in the workplace."

A strike by IATSE's 150,000 members was narrowly avoided on October 16, when the union reached a "tentative agreement" with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents production companies. The new three-year agreement included 10-hour turnaround time between shifts and three per cent wage increases for each of the next three years. 

However, the Los Angeles Times reported union members still walked off the set of Rust hours before the fatal accident that killed Hutchins. 

Among complaints was the allegation that more than a week ago, Baldwin's stunt double accidentally fired two rounds from a prop firearm after being told it was "cold," an industry term meaning a weapon is not loaded with ammunition, including blanks.

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A colleague was so alarmed by the misfires that he sent a text message to the unit production manager saying "We've now had three accidental discharges. This is super unsafe," according to a copy of the message seen by the Los Angeles Times.

Rather than shutdown production for the day after the camera crew walkout (or address their safety concerns), it appears as if production ordered in nonunionised crew to save money on the project.

IATSE Local 44, which covers prop masters, sent out an email to its members announcing the prop gun used in the scene being filmed contained a "live round."

It also said the head armourer on the film set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is not a union member and therefore did not have to adhere to union safety standards, which would have seen the malfunctioning gun removed from the set entirely.

Rust Movie Productions said last week that although they "were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down".

Feature image: Getty/Instagram.

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