The death of camera assistant Sarah Jones during the making of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider speaks to the potential hazards on the modern movie set.
Industry observer Nikki Finke warns that only the threat of legal action, combined with a steep financial punishment, can spark serious change regarding how filmmakers adhere to safety codes. That process is about to begin, Finke’s site says.
[This week] was the first step when prosecutors in Georgia announced that a Wayne County grand jury on Wednesday found enough evidence to take 3 people to trial and charged Midnight Rider filmmakers Randall Miller, Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in the February 20th death of the 27-year old camera assistant.
The Greg Allman biopic’s producer-writer-director Miller and producer-writer Savin are the co-owners of Unclaimed Freight Productions Inc which was producing and filming Midnight Rider. Sedrish was the Executive Producer and unit production manager … The manslaughter charge carries a potential 10-year prison sentence under Georgia law. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of 12 months….Wednesday’s indictments are the first to hold the film industry responsible for Jones’ death. The next step is the money that Sarah Jones’ parents and their lawyer Jeffrey Harris are seeking in their wrongful death lawsuit.
Jones, 27, died while shooting a dream sequence on the first day of the production. The crew assembled a hospital bed to be placed on train tracks as part of the scene. A train heading the crew’s way blew its whistle, but the bed could not be removed from the tracks in time. The train hit the bed, sending metal shards flying. One hit Jones, knocking her into the path of the train.