Hutchins was born in Ukraine in 1979. The daughter of a military officer, she grew up in Arctic climates and developed an interest in film largely because “there wasn’t that much to do outside,” she once told the American Society of Cinematographers’ American Cinematographer magazine. After graduating from Kyiv National University, Hutchins began working as a journalist. Soon, however, she relocated to California and began studying film; by the time Hutchins decided to pivot to filmmaking full time, she had already dabbled in film by documenting her own adventures in endeavors such as cave exploration and parachuting.
Hutchins was profiled in American Cinematographer magazine in 2019 as one of 10 “up-and-coming directors of photography who are making their mark.” She had completed two feature-length films and several short films at the time, and was one of eight participants in the first-ever Fox DP Lab, a program meant to help create new opportunities for female cinematographers.
The magazine also noted her keen attention to light and her emphasis on the value of a great collaboration between director and photographer. Hutchins offered cinematographer Christopher Doyle and director Wong Kar-wai as an example, adding, “I’m just hoping to find my Wong Kar-wai.” She worked as the cinematographer on “Archenemy,” a feature film released the following year starring Joe Manganiello.
On Friday morning, Manganiello shared a photo of Hutchins to Instagram. “She was an absolutely incredible talent and a great person. She had such an eye and a visual style, she was the kind of cinematographer that you wanted to see succeed because you wanted to see what she could pull off next,” he wrote in the caption. “… There was no amount of pressure she couldn’t handle. She was a great collaborator and an ally to anyone in front of her camera. Everyone who knew her was rooting for her.”
“Archenemy” director Adam Egypt Mortimer reposted late Thursday night a Twitter thread from 2020 in which he praised Hutchins’s work as a cinematographer. “Halyna Hutchins, ARCHENEMY’s DP, has a brilliant mind for light and texture. Her tastes and sensibility of what is cinematic were a huge asset for executing our style — the grimy but beautiful feeling I referred to as ROMANTIC BRUTALSM [sic],” Mortimer wrote last year.
After news of her death broke on Thursday night, Mortimer tweeted, “I was lucky to have known her and to have worked with her.”
Other former colleagues of Hutchins’s have also shared memories of the cinematographer. Frances Fisher, an actress in “Rust,” posted a photo of herself hugging Hutchins. “Rest in Paradise Dear Halyna - I loved watching you work: Your intense focus and your vibrant command of the room,” Fisher wrote. “I asked you to stand next to me in our #IAsolidarity #RUST cast&crew photo because I wanted to make sure you were front and center, seeing as there are so few non-male directors of photography.”
Director Olia Oparina, who helmed multiple films Hutchins had worked on as a cinematographer, including “Snowbound” and the short film “I Am Normal,” shared several photos of Hutchins on Instagram on Friday.
“My best friend passed away. The pain is unbearable, and nothing can fill that space that is now empty without my loving, supportive, and understanding Halyna,” Oparina wrote.
“She worked tirelessly for eleven years, and her career just started to take off this year. And it ends like this?” Oparina’s caption continued. “… [W]hy did it take so long for such an undeniably talented and charismatic person to get there? Why does this industry take forever to notice a talent? I know if she were alive, she would go on to get an Oscar one day. At least I can say she died doing what she loved most.”
Hutchins’s own most recent Instagram posts were from the set of “Rust,” where she posted pictures of the film’s cast and crew and a New Mexican sunset.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has said that no charges have been filed, and detectives are interviewing witnesses. Baldwin tweeted Friday that he was fully cooperating with the police investigation, and that he had contacted Hutchins’s husband. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” he wrote. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
Matthew Hutchins, Halyna’s husband, told Insider, “I don’t think there are words to communicate the situation.”
“I am not going to be able to comment about the facts or the process of what we’re going through right now,” he went on, “but I appreciate that everyone has been very sympathetic.”
Stephen Lighthill, the dean of cinematography at the American Film Institute and the president of the American Society of Cinematographers, issued a statement Friday in remembrance of Hutchins.
“She had a big career in front of her and a supportive family to share her success with,” he said. “Her death is a reminder that production should never be dangerous, but often is, and we must all work to fix that.”