This morning, Sarah Jones‘ father gave thanks to Richard Crudo, the president of the American Society of Cinematographers, for his letter to the membership and the industry regarding the tragic death of Jones on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Crudo outlined a “spiritual sickness” in the industry and asked, “Will we just make note of Sarah’s passing, bow our heads for a moment and then carry on? Or will we use it — and I mean really use it — to effect genuine change in how we regard one another?”
We spoke to Mr. Jones this morning; he hopes his daughter’s death brings about true change. He called Crudo’s letter an “outstanding, eye-opening realization” that inspired him to write his own thoughts to Crudo and also share it with this industry. Here s Mr. Jones’ letter in its entirety:
Mr. Richard Crudo,
I am Sarah Jones’ father. Thank you for writing from The ASC’s President’s Desk, ‘On the death of Sarah Jones’. It is heartfelt and well said.
As I read this I am reminded of why Sarah was so excited about entering your world of making films. I recall our routine talks of hearing of her new experiences of the day. We talked about lighting color temperatures, how certain actors required certain filters due to the “negative effects” of HD (but I guess that’s supposed to be a secret) and so forth. She would tell me about all kinds of fascinating details of what it took to get a good shot. Even the night before she died we talked of such things. I so miss those talks.
Following her death I heard stories of how, on the first days of working in the world of cinematography that Sarah was like an excited child in a candy store, doing what she so loved to do. And I heard stories of how, some years later, her unabridged enthusiasm remained intact. She loved the art of cinematography, and yes… even as a 2nd AC with all the tape, markers, measuring tapes, carrying heavy equipment, etc. This young lady had captured the romance of filmmaking, something I think that those who were blessed to have worked alongside her will contest to. Perhaps Sarah possessed some of the spirit of your Mr. William A. Fraker. (It’s a shame that a few moments of apparent negligence robbed your industry of this young talent.)
The last thing I want to do as Sarah’s father is to tear apart the industry that she fell in love with. Yes, the industry apparently needs attend to safer films sets, which, as you so elegantly pointed out, needs to start with a rediscovery of its spirituality. If we truly highly regard and respect one another, should the safety issues not take care of themselves? If the people in charge of ‘Midnight Rider’ had properly regarded the lives they controlled on February 20th, would they have placed them on that railroad trestle without proper safety measures?
Safety should not be an afterthought that gets in the way of a good shot, but rather, safety should be a culture, woven into the fabric of the industry. It should be part of the planning process from day one of the project. If this is done, I don’t believe that it will be a hindrance to “getting that shot”, but rather part of re-instilling the spirituality into the film industry.
I do hope and pray that Sarah’s death, in some small way, leads to the cure of the spiritual sickness you so artfully describe. Yes… it does matter to Sarah’s family that the ultimate price she paid improves and strengthens the industry that she so loved. May the “good old days” be in front of us.
Never Forget, Never Again,
Safety for Sarah,