The top of a church spire is the only part of Yellowstone Film Ranch that is visible from the bumpy public road which winds through the valley.
It is here that the filming of Rust will resume, almost exactly a year and a half since cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead on set in New Mexico while rehearsing a scene in a different church.
Filming has been moved to Montana’s Paradise Valley and Alec Baldwin, still facing an involuntary manslaughter charge, will reprise his role as the main character.
Joel Souza, who was injured by a bullet which travelled through Hutchins and lodged in his shoulder, will return as the director. The new cinematographer, Bianca Cline, will donate her salary to charity in honour of Hutchins.
The Yellowstone Film Ranch has a western town backlot with 28 different buildings including a saloon, stable and jail, fitting for a story about a 13-year-old boy who goes on the run with a notorious outlaw.
But this time there will be no ammunition allowed on set, with the production’s lawyer pointedly stating that no live rounds were allowed last time, either.
“The production will continue to utilise union crew members and will bar any use of working weapons and any form of ammunition,” Melina Spadone, lawyer for Rust Movie Productions, said in a statement. “Live ammunition is, and always was, prohibited on set.”
The road which leads to the Ranch is blocked by a blue sedan car and a security guard who is only permitting cast and crew to pass. “You can’t be here, you need to leave,” he instructs.
The next entrance along the road has a no trespassing sign, which warns “life is short, don’t make it any shorter”.
The cast and crew are staying in this remote and stunningly beautiful part of Montana, with herds of deer roaming the rolling hills and snow topped mountains providing the backdrop.
Shooting is scheduled to last between 20–25 days and a documentary crew will follow the completion of the film, too.
The filming will take place amidst a slew of legal battles. There are still at least five ongoing civil cases against Baldwin and the producers of Rust.
Baldwin and the film’s original armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have also been charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum 18-month prison sentence.
Baldwin will not attend the preliminary hearing which takes place while he is due to be filming in Montana.
There is one settled case though, that of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Halyna Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins.
As part of the settlement, he will become an executive producer on Rust.