“It’s just very raw.”
Those are the words of Rachel Mason, a close friend of Halyna Hutchins who also works in the music and film industry.
Hutchins was killed Thursday on the New Mexico set of the motion picture “Rust,” starring Alec Baldwin, when an assistant director allegedly unwittingly handed Baldwin a loaded weapon and told the actor it was safe to use. Baldwin reportedly pulled the trigger while shooting a scene in the Western; the bullet killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her.
“She was somebody who … ‘friend’ barely encapsulates it,” Mason told “NewsNation Prime’s” Marni Hughes. “She was a role model to me. She was a mom. We have kids the exact same age who are best friends. She’s just a phenomenal person, a really wonderful person.”
Mason also lauded her friend’s artistry.
“(Hers is) a talent that is just so huge. I’m an artist, and when we worked together, she would just pour her entire soul into just every single detail and every puzzle piece that it requires to make something beautiful on screen.”
According to Mason, Hutchins enjoyed every facet of filmmaking.
“She enjoyed the pre-production, the development, the conversations about the drawings we would make,” she said. “She would enjoy just talking about industry parties where you could meet somebody that could be connected to a cool project.
“It’s so cruel that she just got her start and had just leapt in just a short period of time into the highest echelons. She was going to set the world on fire, I’m certain.”
Mason said that her friend had never expressed any concern regarding on-set safety.
“She was focused on lenses, on camera equipment, on the things that matter to a cinematographer, and leaving it to other people to handle the things that they should be handling as far as safety,” she said.
The loss, Mason said through tears, has been devastating.
“I care about her son so much, I can’t even begin to tell you how much it pains me. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Honestly, I’m still trying to process it. I know that they know that I’m here for them.”
If there is any consolation, she said, it’s that the American Film Institute has established the Halyna Hutchins Memorial Scholarship Fund at the AFI Conservatory.
“I know she would want to encourage other people to keep on making beautiful work.”
Mason also urged viewers to seek out Hutchins’ Internet Movie Database page and see all the work the late cinematographer had done in her short career.
“It was such a short spark that should be much bigger,” Mason said. “And I hope people can find her work and appreciate it.”
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.