EXCLUSIVE: Story Syndicate has launched production on a feature documentary exploring the life and work of celebrated cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and her untimely death on the New Mexico set of Rust. Emmy nominee Rachel Mason (Circus of Books) is helming the feature, which has the full backing of the late DP’s husband, Matt Hutchins, with Julee Metz producing for Story Syndicate.
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The untitled documentary being made with exclusive access to Hutchins’ personal and professional archives will paint a powerful portrait of her journey from her youth living on a remote Soviet naval base and then in Kyiv, Ukraine, to becoming one of independent film’s most in-demand cinematographers. The celebration of and tribute to Hutchins’ craft also will examine circumstances on the set of Rust, the Alec Baldwin-led indie Western, where Hutchins was fatally injured, and the emotional journey of those involved in the completion of the film.
The industry was rocked in October 2021 when news broke that Hutchins was fatally shot by Baldwin while filming on Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe. The actor discharged a prop gun that he was told was “cold” but in fact contained at least one live round of ammunition, also injuring Rust‘s director Joel Souza when it was fired. Production on Rust was halted indefinitely following the 42-year-old Hutchins’ death, with the beloved cinematographer’s family filing a wrongful death lawsuit in February. The estate settled with Rust‘s producers — including Baldwin — in October, with Matt Hutchins coming aboard the film as an executive producer. It’s expected to recommence filming with its original cast in January.
Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan, Jon Bardin, Mala Chapple and Kate Barry will executive produce the Halyna Hutchins documentary for Story Syndicate, with UTA Independent Film Group handling worldwide sales.
“Halyna was on the cusp of making a lasting mark on cinema,” Mason told Deadline. “As a filmmaker, I wanted to make movies with her. Never could I have imagined that I would be making a film about her. The world lost a great artist, but I lost a friend. The fact that her brilliance as an artist was instantly overshadowed by the circumstances around her death, pains me deeply. This film allows us the opportunity to share her humanity and talent with the world, and to experience the journey of her collaborators working to complete her final creative work. Halyna was destined for greatness, and she still is.”
Added Metz. “Halyna and I worked in the same industry and shared a passion for storytelling, but what bonded us as friends was motherhood. Our families became incredibly close over the years and when the unimaginable happened, I knew I needed to pay tribute to Halyna by telling her incredible story in the fullest way possible. Rachel and I are thrilled to be able to partner with Story Syndicate to make this vision come to life, and we’re honored that Matt Hutchins has entrusted us with her story.”
Mason is Los Angeles-based filmmaker with a background in visual art and music who received an Emmy nomination for her Netflix documentary Circus of Books, detailing her experience coming of age as the child of pornographers at the center of the gay community. The film executive produced by Ryan Murphy debuted on the streamer in 2020 after world premiering at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
Founded in 2019 by Garbus and Cogan — who have collectively won an Academy Award and three Emmys — Story Syndicate is a New York-based film and television production company devoted to premium nonfiction and scripted content. Recently released projects include the three-part docuseries Eat the Rich: The GameStop Saga (Netflix); the docuseries Murders Before the Marathon (ABC/Hulu) examining a link between the Boston Marathon Bombing and an unsolved triple murder years earlier; the feature Becoming Cousteau (Nat Geo) on the life of the iconic underwater explorer; the three-part series Nuclear Family (HBO) telling the story of a first-generation lesbian family’s fight to stay together; the explosive Britney vs Spears (Netflix), investigating the story of Britney’s public and private fight for freedom; and the five-part series Children of the Underground (FX/Hulu) chronicling the story of an embattled vigilante who made it her mission to help alleged abuse survivors where others had failed. Additional past projects from Story Syndicate include I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (HBO), The Innocence Files (Netflix), All In: The Fight for Democracy (Amazon), Mayor Pete (Amazon) and Fauci (Nat Geo).
Other forthcoming projects from Story Syndicate include DOC NYC’s closing night film The Conspiracy, exploring myths that have plagued Jewish people for centuries; the Christy Wegener-directed feature I Am Vanessa Guillen, premiering on Netflix on November 17; and the double feature Number One on the Call Sheet (Apple) chronicling the stories of Black actors and actresses in Hollywood with producers Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Angela Bassett, and Halle Berry.
Story Syndicate is repped by UTA; Mason by UTA and Echo Lake Entertainment.
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