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‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers’ Safety Claims A “Lie”, Says Former Crew Member

By and | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 11:20am PDT

‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers’ Safety Claims A “Lie”, Says Former Crew MemberIn an exclusive interview with Deadline, a crew member who suffered serious injuries on an earlier film by Midnight Rider director-producers Randall Miller and Jody Savin has called their “safety first” claims “a lie.”

Katie Dover, a costumer who was hurt on the set of Miller and Savin’s 2013 film CBGB during pre-production, says Miller and Savin’s recent statements regarding safety on their films don’t jibe with her experience.

Katie Dover_FotorDays ago, Midnight Rider director Miller and his wife-producer Savin — two of the three filmmakers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones — went on the record stating that since they began in the business in 1990, “We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind.”

“That’s a lie,” said Dover, who is going on the record about the injury for the first time. “My injury was significant. I lost 6 months of work because of it.” After a table sliced the back of her hand open from little finger across to her forefinger, Dover underwent two surgeries, was in a cast and had to endure months of physical therapy. “I’d call that significant,” she said.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Say “This Was Not A Crime”

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‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 2:02pm PDT

‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”Midnight Rider director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin broke their months-long silence Thursday, calling the February 20 death of camera assistant Sarah Jones “a horrible tragedy and horrific accident.”

Jones, a well-liked 27-year-old crew member working on Miller and Savin’s Gregg Allman biopic, died when she was struck by a train on the Doctortown trestle in rural Georgia. Several other crew members were also injured in the tragedy which rippled through the production community and sparked industry-wide calls for increased safety measures on film and TV sets in Jones’ memory.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Turn Themselves In To Georgia Police

Miller and Savin served as producers on the Gregg Allman biopic via their Unclaimed Freight Productions banner and were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing along with executive producer/unit production manager Jay Sedrish earlier this month. They turned themselves into police in Wayne County, GA and were released on $27,700 bail on Sunday before returning home to California. Sedrish surrendered to authorities this morning and was released after posting a $27,700 cash bond. Per Georgia law, Miller and Savin waived an arraignment hearing and entered not guilty pleas this morning through their attorney, Don Samuels of Atlanta, GA.

In their statement, Miller and Savin emphasized their history of producing over 10 feature films and television projects with a self-described emphasis on crew safety. “In the weeks and months that follow when the true facts of the events are … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Midnight Rider’ Exec Producer Jay Sedrish Turns Himself In To Georgia Police, Following Randall Miller & Jody Savin

By and | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 9:57am PDT

UPDATE: ‘Midnight Rider’ Exec Producer Jay Sedrish Turns Himself In To Georgia Police, Following Randall Miller & Jody Savin2ND UPDATE, THURSDAY 9:57 AM: Midnight Rider executive producer/unit production manager Jay Sedrish turned himself in this morning to the Wayne County, GA police and was booked and released after posting a $27,700 bond. This comes after his fellow filmmakers Randall Miller and Jody Savin turned themselves in earlier this week. All three were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones. They were also charged with criminal trespassing for filming on a train trestle when, according to police, they had no permit to shoot on the tracks.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”

One of the key points in the case is that Wayne County Sheriff Sgt. Ben Roberston, in his initial report about the incident, wrote: “In my presence, Mr. Sedrish was asked by an employee of CSX if he had permission to be on the trestle or tracks and Mr. Sedrish replied, ‘That’s complicated.’ According to the CSX employee, the production company had previously been denied permission to film on the trestle, and there was electronic correspondence to verify that fact.”

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Sarah Jones Midnight RiderUPDATE, Tuesday, 6:57 AM: As of this morning, Midnight Rider executive producer/unit production manager director Jay Sedrish has not yet turned himself in, but we are told he has another week and that arrangements are being made to meet that timetable. Here are the mugshots of director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin, who along with Sedrish could face 10 years in prison for the tragic on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. Read More »

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DeadlineNow: Sarah Jones’ Death Indictments And What’s Next For ‘Midnight Rider’ (Video)

By | Thursday July 3, 2014 @ 3:27pm PDT
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'Midnight Rider' Director Randall Miller And Two Others Charged In Sarah Jones' Death

Deadline's Jen Yamato and Dominic Patten look at what led to today's indictments in the 'Midnight Rider' case and what happens now for the seemingly doomed film.

Related:
‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter
Sarah Jones’ Parents React To ‘Midnight Rider’ Charges

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Sarah Jones’ Parents React To ‘Midnight Rider’ Charges

By | Thursday July 3, 2014 @ 9:47am PDT

Sarah Jones’ Parents React To ‘Midnight Rider’ ChargesRichard and Elizabeth Jones issued a statement today in response to the charges filed against filmmakers Randall Miller, Jody Savin, and Jay Sedrish in the death of their daughter, Sarah Jones on the set of Midnight Rider:

“Elizabeth and I are comfortable that the authorities were both careful and meticulous in investigating and bringing charges related to the incident that took our daughter’s life. We must allow the criminal justice process to proceed unhindered. Our mission remains the same: to ensure safety on all film sets. Safety for Sarah.” — Richard Jones

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UPDATED: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter In Death Of Sarah Jones

By and | Thursday July 3, 2014 @ 7:38am PDT

UPDATED: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter In Death Of Sarah JonesUPDATED: Prosecutors in Georgia’s Wayne County today charged filmmakers Randall Miller, Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in the February death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones. Jones was killed on a train trestle while filming a scene for the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider.

The accident happened on February 20, when Jones was struck by a freight train. The film’s crew members were on the tracks of the Doctortown train trestle for the shoot by Unclaimed Freight Productions Inc., the production company owned by Miller and Savin.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Image (10) randall-miller-jody-savin__140331235341-275x343.jpg for post 707163Under Georgia law, a manslaughter conviction would carry a sentence of 10 years in prison. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor and carries potential sentence of one year. Miller was the director of the film, Savin (his wife) was the producer, and Sedrish served as the unit production manager and executive producer. Other crew members on the shoot were injured but survived. The film was to be distributed in the U.S. by Open Road Films. Production was shut down, and attempts to restart the shoot in LA were rebuffed.

Related: Hollywood Adopted Railroad Safety Guidelines Shortly Before Sarah Jones’ Death

The Wayne County Sheriff’s office has been investigating the accident since it occurred. A grand jury was impaneled and Detective Joe Gardner presented before that panel yesterday. The indictments followed this morning. “After the indictment, the DA can issue an arrest warrant or negotiate an informal surrender through their attorneys,” said criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos. “An arraignment will come first, and then after that, the defense will have a chance to challenge the indictment on procedural issues and or the substance of the charges.” Normally what happens is the DA will immediately turn over grand jury testimony and all evidence to defense attorneys so they can work on any challenges to the indictment.

This is reminiscent of on-set The Twilight Zone helicopter crash in 1982, where director John Landis, his associate producer, unit production manager, helicopter pilot and special effects coordinator were charged with manslaughter in the on set-deaths of actor Vic Morrow (the father of Jennifer Jason Leigh) and two children when a helicopter stunt went tragically awry. A sensational trial resulted in their acquittals, but during a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gordon Ringer scolded Hollywood for putting children’s lives at risk just to make a movie. “This isn’t nickelodeon-time anymore,” he said from the bench. “I would have thought that after 75 years, somebody might have thought it inappropriate to put Lillian Gish on an ice flow and send her into the middle of Niagara Falls to make a movie.” Gish was seriously injured while filming that scene for the 1920 silent film Way Down East.

Prior to today’s charges numerous lawsuits have been filed against Miller, Savin, Sedrish, and over a dozen other parties. Richard and Elizabeth Jones, the parents of Sarah Jones, filed a wrongful death suit on May 21 claiming that the filmmakers “operated without minimum safety precautions and contrary to standard industry practices for productions of this scale and for productions involving dangerous filming conditions.” Read More »

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Hollywood Rallies In ‘Safety For Sarah’ PSA: Video

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 2:14pm PDT

Hollywood Rallies In ‘Safety For Sarah’ PSA: VideoVampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev, Paul Dano, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Eddie Kay Thomas, and director Jake Scott are a few of the film and TV names lending their support to the cause in a new “Safety For Sarah” PSA created to draw awareness to on-set safety following the February death of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones.

Sarah Jones PSAJones died February 20 in a train collision on the set of Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider in Georgia. Her death is still under investigation by state authorities. The tragedy sparked a grassroots call for increased safety and accountability on film and TV sets particularly on Facebook, where the Slates for Sarah page collected photo tributes in memory of Jones with slogans like “We Are All Sarah Jones” and “Remember Sarah.”

Related: ASC President Pens Sarah Jones Letter: Industry Afflicted By “Spiritual Sickness”

The video PSA was shot in Atlanta, New York, and at LA’s Siren Studios with members of the production community repping all areas of the industry in solidarity. Check it out: Read More »

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DeadlineNow: ‘Midnight Rider’s Future In Limbo As Lawsuits Mount (Video)

By | Wednesday June 18, 2014 @ 6:27pm PDT
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What Lies Ahead For 'Midnight Rider'?

The future of the Randall Miller-directed 'Midnight Rider' is in question nearly four months after camera assistant Sarah Jones was struck and killed by a train on set. The latest lawsuit in the case was filed this week making the fate of the Gregg Allman biopic all the more murky, Deadline's Jen Yamato and Dominic Patten report.

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‘Midnight Rider’ Producers Hit With New Lawsuit From Injured Crew Member

By | Tuesday June 17, 2014 @ 4:26pm PDT
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What Lies Ahead For 'Midnight Rider'?

The future of the Randall Miller-directed Midnight Rider is in question nearly four months after camera assistant Sarah Jones was struck and killed by a train on set. The latest lawsuit in the case was filed this week making the fate of the Gregg Allman biopic all the more murky, Deadline's Jen Yamato and Dominic Patten report.

Image (2) midnight-rider-train-tracks__140331201247-275x172__140523013329.jpg for post 735045The lawsuits are piling up following the February 20 train accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones on the Georgia set of Midnight Rider. Makeup artist Antonyia Verna and her husband Richard Brewer filed a suit June 12 in Chatham County seeking damages against the film’s producers and additional parties, naming 16 defendants as responsible in the tragedy that left Verna injured alongside Jones and five other crew members. Verna is suing over damages she suffered in the accident, including physical injuries, medical expenses, post-traumatic stress, and pain and suffering.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Sarah Jones Midnight Rider deathThe lawsuit is the latest in a mounting legal skirmish over the incident that occurred during filming on the Gregg Allman biopic helmed by Randall Miller. He and producer Jody Savin, their Unclaimed Freight production banner, location scout Charley Baxter, exec producers Nick Gant, Michael Lehman, Don Mandrik, and Jay Sedrish, 1st AD Hillary Schwartz, Gant’s Meddin Studios, property owner Rayonier, railroad company CSX Transportation, and distributor Open Road Films are named in the new suit. The defendants also were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Jones last month seeking unspecified damages “for the full value of Sarah’s life.”

Related: “I Almost Died”, Says ‘Midnight Rider’ Director Of Train Accident That Killed Sarah Jones

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Produced By: Concern Over Crews In Tax Incentive States Following ‘Midnight Rider’

Sarah-Jones-camera-operatorChasing state tax incentives can have disastrous safety consequences, according to producers, risk managers and insurance brokers, who spoke today at a PGA Produced By panel on industry safety.

The recent death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in a tragic train accident during filming of Midnight Rider has shaken the industry like no other accident since the 1982 Twilight Zone disaster. The fact that Midnight Rider was shot in Georgia, one of the most tax incentive-friendly states in the nation, wasn’t lost on the panelists. Read More »

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Gregg Allman’s Attorney On Wrongful-Death Suit: “Unfortunate” That Singer Is A Defendant

By | Friday May 23, 2014 @ 5:02pm PDT

The lawyer for Gregg Allman today responded to a lawsuit filed by the parents of Sarah Jones, who was killed on the set of Allman biopic Midnight Rider in February. Gregg-Allman-crop__140502234557-275x384“The inclusion of my clients is unfortunate, unwarranted and without merit,” Atlanta-based attorney David Long-Daniels of Greenberg Traurig LLP said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Allman simply provided an option to acquire motion picture rights to his life story and his autobiography. [He] had no role in securing any location for the making of the movie or the actual physical production of the film.” Allman is among 18 defendants named in the wrongful-death suit filed Wednesday in Georgia State Court by Richard and Elizabeth Jones. His attorney’s statement comes 10 days after Allman settled a lawsuit he had filed against Midnight Rider director Randall Miller and his production company Unclaimed Freight.

Related:
Hollywood Adopted Railroad Safety Guidelines Shortly Before Sarah Jones’ Death
The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

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Hollywood Adopted Railroad Safety Guidelines Shortly Before Sarah Jones’ Death

By | Friday May 23, 2014 @ 8:45am PDT

Sarah Jones Death Safety GuidelinesTen months before Sarah Jones was killed in a tragic railroad accident on the Georgia set of Midnight Rider, the AMPTP Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee issued “Safety Bulletin #28: Guidelines for Railroad Safety” — an eerily prescient warning about the hazard of working on and around railroad trains and tracks. Not a single news outlet even mentioned that it had been issued. As the wrongful death suit filed Wednesday by Jones’ parents proceeds through the legal system, one question that almost certainly will arise is whether the production company, in preparation for setting up its shot that February day on that ill-fated stretch of railroad track, informed crew members of the Safety Committee’s bulletin — or whether they were even aware of its existence. One of the hard lessons that Hollywood should learn from Jones’ death is that there needs to be a wider dissemination and discussion of industry safety guidelines.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

midnight-rider-train-tracks__140331201247-275x172The suit alleges that Jones was killed because the production company “operated without minimum safety precautions and contrary to standard industry practices for productions of this scale and for productions involving dangerous filming conditions.” Those safety standards are clearly spelled out in Safety Bulletin #28, and according to the lawsuit, the production company violated a good many of them.

Related: Safety On Set: Camera Crew Outnumber Stunt Personnel In On-Set Deaths

The bulletin states: “Prior to starting rail work, the production, in conjunction with the railroad representative, will conduct a safety meeting with all involved personnel to acquaint cast and crew members with possible workplace risks.” The lawsuit, however, alleges that the production company “failed to hold a safety meeting prior to filming.” The bulletin states: “Always follow the instructions of the designated railroad representative, and any written work or safety rules distributed by production.” The suit claims that the production company “failed to secure approval for filming” from CSX Transportation, which operates the tracks, and “concealed their lack of approval from CSX from the cast and crew.”

CSX was one of 18 defendants named in the lawsuit filed by by Richard and Elizabeth Jones in Georgia’s State Court of Chatham County on behalf of their daughter’s estate, asking for a jury trial. Other defendants include director-producer Randall Miller and producer-wife Jody Savin, along with their Unclaimed Freight production company. Unit production manager Jay Sedrish, 1st A.D. Hillary Schwartz, location manager Charlie Baxter, and exec producer Nick Gant and his Meddin Studios were also named, as was Midnight Rider distributor Open Road Films, exec producer Gregg Allman, and Film Allman, LLC.

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DeadlineNow: Sarah Jones Lawsuit – What Does It Mean? (Video)

By | Thursday May 22, 2014 @ 5:11pm PDT

Today kicks off our DeadlineNow video news service, in which Deadline’s journalists offer instant analysis and commentary on the news as it happens. Check back throughout the day for more reports.

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Sarah Jones' Family Files Lawsuit

Deadline Film Editor Anita Busch discusses the industry-wide implications of the massive wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of the camera operator struck and killed by a train during production of 'Midnight Rider'. Film Editor Anita Busch reports.

Related: Sarah Jones Family Files ‘Midnight Rider’ Wrongful Death Suit

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UPDATE: Sarah Jones Family Files ‘Midnight Rider’ Wrongful Death Suit, Seeks Damages “For The Full Value Of Sarah’s Life”

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 4:45pm PDT
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Sarah Jones' Family Files Lawsuit

Deadline Film Editor Anita Busch discusses the industry-wide implications of the massive wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the family of the camera operator struck and killed by a train during production of 'Midnight Rider'. Film Editor Anita Busch reports.

Sarah Jones death Midnight Rider2ND UPDATE, 4:45 PM: Open Road Films, which had been set to release Midnight Rider in the U.S., issued a statement about the new lawsuit late this afternoon: “This event was a horrible tragedy, and our deepest condolences go out to the Jones family, the crew members and others who have suffered. Open Road Films was not involved in the production in any way at any time, and we have been named in this suit without justification.”

Related: Open Road To Bring Gregg Allman Biopic To U.S. Theaters

UPDATED WITH COURT DOCUMENT: Today’s lawsuit, which seeks unspecified punitive damages, claims that Sarah Jones was killed because the defendants ”operated without minimum safety precautions and contrary to standard industry practices for productions of this scale and for productions involving dangerous filming conditions.” (Read the filing here.) It also claims that a CSX rail company rep told one or more of the defendants that only two trains would pass per day at the filming location, and that none of the production’s crew obtained permission to film on the train trestle bridge – and that they concealed this fact from the rest of the crew.

This is the second suit to arise from the Midnight Rider shoot. The biopic’s subject, Gregg Allman, sued director Randall Miller’s production company Unclaimed Freight on May 2 alleging that their big-screen option rights to his life have ended. That case was settled last week.

Related: Gregg Allman Settles ‘Midnight Rider’ Lawsuit

PREVIOUSLY: A whopping 18 defendants were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Georgia this afternoon by the parents of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones, who was killed in a train collision during filming on the indie feature on February 20. Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, filed the complaint in Georgia’s State Court of Chatham County on behalf of their daughter’s estate, asking for a jury trial. Among those named as defendants in the Jones family suit were director/producer Randall Miller and producer wife Jody Savin, along with their Unclaimed Freight production company. Unit production manager Jay Sedrish, 1st A.D. Hillary Schwartz, location manager Charlie Baxter, and exec producer Nick Gant and his Meddin Studios were also named, as was Midnight Rider distributor Open Road Films, exec producer Gregg Allman, and Film Allman, LLC.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Read More »

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UPDATE: “I Almost Died”, Says ‘Midnight Rider’ Director Of Train Accident That Killed Sarah Jones As Gregg Allman & Filmmakers Settle Lawsuit

By | Tuesday May 13, 2014 @ 7:56am PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEUPDATE, 7:50 AM: No word if the movie is going ahead but the Allman Brothers Band frontman’s lawsuit against Midnight Rider director Randall Miller‘s production company Unclaimed Freight is over. “We have come together and reasoned with one another,” Gregg Allman‘s lawyer David Long-Daniels today told Judge John Morse Jr’s Georgia courtroom. With a motion for dismissal without prejudice Gregg-Allman-crop__140502234557-275x384being filed, the attorney offered no other details about what settlement the two sides had reached over Allman’s April 28 complaint over the big screen option to his life. The musician’s lawsuit was also an effort to stop the Miller-helmed film from starting up again after the February 20 death of camera assistant Sarah Jones  and the suspension of filming. While this dispute centered on allegedly missed payments and production schedule on the controversial pic, Allman had already advocated Miller drop the project.

Related: William Hurt Pulls Out Of ‘Midnight Rider’ Movie

During a hearing on Monday, one of Miller’s lawyers insinuated that Allman was just using the rights issues to shut the movie down because of the tragedy of Jones’ death. “Just because the going gets rough, just because it gets inconvenient, that doesn’t mean Mr. Allman can pick up his marbles and go home,” attorney Donnie Dixon told the court.

doctortown-trestle-mike-mccall-midnight-rider__140403113243-575x426“I was in the middle of the track and I almost died,” said Miller himself about that … Read More »

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Sarah Jones’ Father Says “Thank You” In Letter To ASC President, Industry

By | Thursday May 8, 2014 @ 7:50am PDT

Sarah Jones Midnight Rider deathThis 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

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ASC President Pens Sarah Jones Letter: Industry Afflicted By “Spiritual Sickness”

Sarah Jones death Midnight RiderFollowing the February 20 death of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones on set in rural Georgia, American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) President Richard Crudo has placed blame for the tragedy on what he calls an industry-wide “spiritual sickness.” “The public outpouring of grief by individuals and groups connected to the camera department was remarkable, but the fact that it came almost exclusively from us uncovered a dark secret most of us have known for quite some time: This industry is in trouble, and I don’t mean economically, but spiritually,” he wrote in an open letter posted on the org’s website and published in the May issue of ASC’s American Cinematographer. The American Pie and Justified DP also calls on his fellow directors of photography to effect change on their sets post-Sarah Jones to ensure the safety of their crew:

Related: Gregg Allman Files Lawsuit To Stop ‘Midnight Rider’ Film

asc logoDetails surrounding the February death of second camera assistant Sarah Jones in Georgia have been well documented, but something important has been lost in the reportage. The facts, as they’ve been related, describe a horrible and preventable tragedy. The public outpouring of grief by individuals and groups connected to the camera department was remarkable, but the fact that it came almost exclusively from us uncovered a dark secret most of us have known for quite some time: This industry is in trouble, and I don’t mean economically, but spiritually.

From time to time, the late ASC legend William A. Fraker liked to hold court in the Clubhouse bar and expound upon the early days of his career. “Those were the good days,” he was fond of saying. “You could feel the romance when you went to work.” His emotion was palpable, and those of us lucky enough to be there believed his every word. But look a little deeper, and his sentiment becomes more than a nostalgic reference to the era of highballs and unfiltered cigarettes. He was really talking about the feeling of family and community that infused the movie business of his day.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

According to Fraker, filmmaking collaborators showed a genuine caring for one another that extended well beyond the workplace. Though a similar ethic may exist in isolated pockets today, it bears no relation to its predecessor. There is no question that in the 1940s and ’50s, and even up to the ’70s, society had a sharper understanding of what was really lasting and meaningful in life. On the soundstages of 2014, it’s likely those notions of warmth and common decency will prevail only as long as they can generate cold, hard cash.

I am by no means suggesting the past was rampant with peace, love and understanding. There were plenty of things wrong with our culture then, and there was no way for Fraker to know it was already beginning to unravel. But if we’re honest, his gauzy recollections force us to confront uncomfortable truths about how we think of and treat one another, even in the smallest of ways.

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UPDATE: ‘Midnight Rider’ Producer Made Controversial Comments About Local Filming Days Before Sarah Jones Death

Midnight Rider Doctortown trestleUPDATED, 7:28 PM: Savannah Women In Film and Television has issued a statement about comments Jody Savin made at its meeting in February: “The executive committee of SWIFT recognizes that Jody Savin did speak to our membership on Feb. 16. Some of her remarks were very unprofessional and disrespectful. Her statements took an unexpected direction and left a negative impact on the entire group. We do not have any further comments at this time.”

PREVIOUSLY, APRIL 21: The weekend before the February 20 train accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones, Midnight Rider producer Jody Savin made controversial public comments at a meeting of local production crew in which she touted her company’s methods and complained about the Savannah film commission for keeping a close watch on her previous film, CBGB. Savin, who is married to Midnight Rider director Randall Miller and co-owns their Unclaimed Freight production company, was an invited guest speaker at a Midnight Rider Sarah Jones death Jody SavinFebruary 16 meeting held by the Savannah Women In Film and Television (SWIFT). Savannah-based hair stylist JC Davis was in attendance with about 30 others including local production crew, many of whom were seeking to work on the upcoming Midnight Rider production. According to her, Savin “went on to talk about CBGB and was bitching about how our former film commissioner Jay Self kept showing up to set, telling her she couldn’t do this, she couldn’t do that and that she was so glad he was no longer film commissioner. [Savin] said, ‘We make movies by our own rules.’ ” Deadline has talked to other attendees who also corroborate the comments made by Savin at the event.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Investigation Handed Over To D.A.

Savin’s comments during the hourlong chat reportedly left some of those in attendance unsettled. “A lot of people felt insulted by the whole thing. It was very negative toward a lot of people who work in this town,” another attendee present at the event told Deadline. “Savin seemed proud of the fact that she was able to get crew cheaply. It was more about the bottom line. A lot of women wanted to work on it but I think after meeting a lot walked away and thought. ‘I wouldn’t work on that show.’ ” Read More »

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William Hurt Pulls Out Of ‘Midnight Rider’ Movie

William Hurt Midnight Rider LeavingBREAKING: William Hurt, who was set to play Gregg Allman in the feature film Midnight Rider, has pulled out of the movie. The exit of its star casts even more doubt over whether the Randall Miller-directed biopic will move forward following the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones during filming in February in Georgia. A source close to the production tells Deadline the filmmakers “were already looking to recast some roles,” including the Gregg Allman character.

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Most recently, Miller and his production company Unclaimed Freight were looking to restart pre-production on the movie in LA in a few weeks, even as investigations are ongoing over who is to blame for the February 20 accident in Wayne County, GA where a film crew was struck by a train while shooting on a trestle. Read More »

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