I was deeply saddened to read about the death of Camera Assistant Sarah Jones on the film set of Midnight Rider. I did not know Sarah personally, yet I am still struck with such a deep feeling of loss by the senselessness of it.
For those who don’t know, Sarah was killed during a shoot when they were filming on a railroad bridge ~ unexpectedly a train came.
What the company was doing filming on an active railroad bridge is beyond my comprehension. There is an ongoing investigation into what happened and I am sure at the end of it appropriate responsibility will be placed.
But that won’t bring Sarah back. Nor will all the petitions to the Academy, nor will the camera slates marked with her name, nor the black ribbons. And sadly none of that will keep someone else from being hurt or killed on a movie set.
But I keep wondering. There were twenty people shooting on that bridge. Did no one question if it was responsible or safe to do?
Maybe now is finally the time to agree that we are all equally responsible for safety on a film set.
Maybe it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep everyone safe, that the Production Assistant has just as much responsibility as the Producer or the Director of Photography or the Gaffer – because we are all fellow human beings.
Maybe in Sarah’s honor we can make that commitment.
Maybe we each do one thing each day to make someone else safe. Maybe that means not having a wrap beer – in her honor. Maybe that means actually wearing the uncool safety harness – in her honor. Maybe that means doing one less take to wrap early – in her honor. Maybe that means shooting a less hectic schedule – in her honor.
Maybe that means actually speaking up if you are concerned that something is unsafe, – in her honor.
Whatever it is. Make that change. It won’t bring Sarah back. But maybe, just maybe, it will help keep someone else with us longer and safe. And their family will thank you.
Rest In Peace, Sarah Jones. I am sorry I will now never get to meet you.