Remembering Halyna Hutchins

October 27, 2021
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ICG Local 600 and the entertainment community lost a beloved sister when Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins lost her life on the set of the film Rust. Hutchins was born in Ukraine and graduated from the American Film Institute in 2015. She was named a rising star by American Cinematographer Magazine in 2019. She is survived by her husband Matthew and 9-year-old son.

Below are recollections from people within the industry who knew and worked with Hutchins.

Photo by Alex Lombardi

Autumn Eakin, Director of Photography

“I knew Halyna from being at multiple Sundance Film Festivals and industry events. Halyna embodied hustle and grit and light. When we saw one another, we talked a lot about the importance of fighting for shots you care about and how to blend speaking visually and emotionally with your director. The negligence in this tragedy is unacceptable. As fellow DPs, we are going to lead the charge to finally ban blanks and functional firearms from set in her name. Halyna’s Heed.”

Lynette Coll, Producer

“We met at Sundance at one of my favorite parties.  I was dancing and she was like, ‘Can I dance with you?’ and we danced and we laughed for so long and ever since we’ve been friends. She was just an ally. I’m a Latina producer and she was all about, ‘you’re going to make it in this world’ and ‘keep believing.’ We had each other’s back for the longest time. She’s sweet and she was very loving and like everybody has said, she had determination and she was a brilliant DP, too.”

Emilia Mendieta Cordova, Director of Photography, AFI classmate and friend

“She loved to be around people. She wanted to be involved in everything. Wherever she went, whether it be a set, a party, a classroom, a living room, the world was brighter because of her energy. She was a courageous leader, a dedicated cinematographer completely committed to her craft, an incredible artist a creative wonder and a lover of beauty.”

Stephen Lighthill, Director of Photography, Director, AFI Cinematography Program

“When we interview at AFI, we’re looking to bring in a person, not just a technician, not just an artist, but a person, who will really contribute and will bring a unique experience. And of course, Halyna’s upbringing was the most unique. When I interviewed her for admission into AFI, what struck me in the interview, and of course in the first year was that she was very tough. She could take any note that we gave her no matter how critical it was. In her graduation film, she transformed what could have been a kind of average story into something very illuminating and dramatic, and it was her ability to hit the right note in telling a story that was really terrific.”

Robert Primes, Director of Photography, Local 600 NEB Member

“I was at the old Mole-Richardson before they moved and there was an assistant there: Halyna Hutchins. I found her to be extraordinarily sharp. She was so interested in everything about lighting, she was like a sponge. She just picked it all up, very smart, very motivated, just exceptional. She was interested in AFI, but she didn’t think she was ready. I looked at her reel and I said, ‘Don’t waste a year. You’re ready now.’ I was one of her teachers at AFI. She got all the way across the world from the ice floes of Ukraine to Hollywood. She had a lot of chutzpah and a lot of determination.”

Elle Schneider, Director of Photography

“The last time I spent significant time hanging out with Halyna, we were posing to take photos with goats at the Halloween party of Adam Egypt Mortimer who Halyna had worked with on the film Archenemy. It was shortly before that film was about to start shooting, and I was very excited to see her at this party and to hear that she had been hired on as the DP for this film. Women traditionally don’t get a lot of opportunity to shoot genre films, and genre films can be where a lot of the creativity and artistry in cinematography get to happen. We spoke about how excited she was to do this film and she was eager to branch into different types of genre filmmaking as a DP. There was just this moment of pride that I had because maybe it wasn’t me this time, but it was happening. A director that I really respected had chosen to have a woman DP on his film and that was really meaningful to me.”

Lane Luper, First Assistant

“She was such a unique spirit in this business. You don’t come across DPs like her who are so collaborative. Quite frankly, she had no ego. She came to work as an artist and a collaborator. At no point was anything ever about her. It wasn’t ‘me,’ it was ‘we.’ She was a super loving mother and the fact that she was able to balance such a demanding artistic career along with being a mother is super inspiring to women and to creatives everywhere.”

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