Check Out Our New Look

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.

Read More »

Comments (17)

After Sarah Jones Death, IATSE Locals Set Safety Rights Seminar For May 4

By and | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 8:50pm PDT

IATSE safetySafety issues are starting to take center stage across the entertainment industry in the wake of Sarah Jones‘ death on the set of Midnight Rider. Tonight in Burbank at a meeting of the Local 399, fliers were handed out for an IATSE-backed May 4 seminar entitled “Safety Rights of Workers & Your Rights Under OSHA Class,” which a description says will educate union attendees on set safety protocol, their rights as workers, and “what to do when you feel you are being placed in a hazardous situation.” The seminar will be open to all members of the entertainment industry, not just IATSE members, and will be jointly hosted by the Local 80, which reps first aid employees, motion picture grips, craft services, warehouse workers, and the Local 728, which represents represents studio electrical lighting technicians.

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

Safety OSHA IATSE The estimated 50 attendees at tonight’s Local 399 meeting began the session with a moment of silence for fallen camera assistant Jones, who died in a train collision on February 20 in Georgia, and also for LAPD officer Chris Cortijo, a 26-year veteran of the force well known in the L.A. production community, who was killed by an alleged DUI driver April 5 in Sun Valley.

Handouts for the May 4 safety meeting were made available to attending members of Local 399, which represents camera car drivers, casting directors, crane operators, location managers, coordinators and scouts, production drivers, script coordinators, stunt and/or blind drivers, transportation coordinators, and others. It will be held from 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM on Sunday, May 4 at the IATSE Local 80 in Burbank: Read More »

Comments (7)