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 shot and killed by actor Alec Baldwin yesterday when he fired a prop gun while filming a scene for upcoming Western, Rust, 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.
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’.
‘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.
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 Halyna, 42, a mother-of-one, before she was accidentally shot and killed by actor Alec Baldwin yesterday when he fired a prop gun on the set of Rust
Social media posts shared in the hours after her death paint a picture of a beloved friend, colleague and mother to her son, Andros, her ‘little man’, whose father is Los Angeles-based lawyer Matthew Hutchins, pictured together
Photos capture a sense of playfulness and adventure, with snaps of Halloween costume parties, road trips with friends and days out exploring all lit up by Halyna’s smile
Born in Ukraine and raised on a Soviet military base ‘surrounded by reindeer and submarines’, Halyna had recently wrapped on a project in Ireland with heartthrob Joe Manganiello and was tipped for a bright future in Hollywood when her life was so tragically cut short
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. ‘I can tell already she was going to be a genius.’
Born in 1979, Halyna was the daughter of military parents and grew up on a Soviet base ‘in the Arctic circle’. Recalling what it was like, she said they were ‘surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines’.
In a sign of her broad interests, Halyna, who was fluent in Russian and English, attended the National University of Kyiv, Ukraine’s most prestigious higher education institution, and graduated with a degree in International Journalism.
She used this as a ticket to work abroad and spent time as an ‘investigative journalist with British documentary productions in Europe’. Details of the projects have not yet emerged.
At some point Hutchins moved to the US, settling in California. She married husband Matthew, a lawyer who worked as an associate with US firm Kirkland & Ellis until 2017. His current role is not known.
In 2012 the couple welcomed their much wanted son, Andros.
‘I remember when Halyna and I would talk about how much she wanted to have a child so many years ago,’ wrote her friend, Stephanie, ‘and being at the hospital the day he was born and seeing her so filled with happiness.’
The couple both posted loved-up family photos on Facebook, marking family hikes and fun-filled days out.
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
Director of photography Halyna Hutchins was killed in the tragic incident on the set of Rust Thursday
Hutchins, who lived in Venice Beach, California, was considered one of Hollywood’s rising stars – named in a list of cinematographers to watch in 2019 by American Cinematographer
Shortly after Andros’s birth Hutchins, who had begun working on short films, enrolled on a two-year course at the American Film Institute Conservatory to hone her skills as a cinematographer. A cinematographer, also known as a director of photography, is in charge of the film and lighting crews on set.
The AFI Conservatory is well regarded within Hollywood and provided a launchpad for the likes of directors Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).
Hutchins would later speak of the important role this experience played in developing her career, saying it made her ‘rethink’ who she was as an artist. She added: ‘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.’
Alongside her early cinematography work, Hutchins worked as a fashion photographer in order to learn how to ‘create the mood, the feeling’ in an image.
A string of smaller projects came along, largely in short films. But her burgeoning talent did not go unnoticed.
She later moved first to the U.K. to work on documentary filmmaking before traveling to LA to study for a master’s degree in cinematography and switching to movies
In 2018 she was named as part of the inaugural class of the 21st Century Fox DP Lab, a networking cohort designed to expand opportunities for female cinematographers by connecting them with working professionals.
The following year, she was hailed as one of the ‘rising stars of cinematography’ in respected industry publication American Cinematographer.
‘Right now, I’m just really interested in finding fruitful collaborations,’ she said in an interview with the publication. She added, ‘I’m just hoping to find my Wong Kar-wai,’ in a nod to the renowned Hong Kong director.
Hutchins’ recent work includes Blindfire, a racially charged police drama written and directed by Mike Nell starring Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, TNT’s The Alienist) and Sharon Leal (Supergirl, Instinct), which was winner of Best Crime Drama at the Houston International Film Festival, 2020.
Darlin’, a horror feature lensed by Hutchins and directed by Pollyanna McIntosh (The Walking Dead), premiered at the SXSW film festival 2019 and played internationally at the Edinburgh Film Festival and London FrightFest.
Director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who worked with Hutchins on the 2020 superhero mystery-thriller Archenemy, tweeted: ‘I’m so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set. She was a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.’
Actor Joe Manganiello, who starred in Archenemy, called her ‘an incredible talent’ and ‘a great person’ on his Instagram account, adding that he was lucky to have Hutchins as director of photography on the film.
Mortimer has previously said that Hutchins’s tastes and sensibility of what is cinematic were a huge asset for the Archenemy project.
Across Halyna’s Instagram and website reels are numerous stills and clips from short films and features she’s worked on, ranging in genre and aesthetics.
However they also paint a clear image of a free-spirited, much-loved friend, with photos of Halloween dress up parties and candid selfies taken on a road trip.
She enjoyed exploring while travelling to work, taking time while in Ireland on a recent project to take in the landscape and historical castles.
In some of Halyna’s last posts on Instagram, she shared photos from the New Mexico desert on the set of Rust. One of the shotswas a large group pic of the film cast and crew as Halyna shouted out the IATSE, or The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union.
‘Standing in #IAsolidarity with our @IATSE crew here in New Mexico on RUST,’ Halyna wrote in the caption, reposting from another person working on the production.
‘The historic strike, which honors the needs of the tireless workers in the industry who mostly operate behind the scenes, is still putting pressure on Hollywood to negotiate better working conditions and better pay.’
The very last post shared on her account was a video of her riding horseback through the New Mexico desert, a slight smile on her face.
She wrote: ‘One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off.’