The 2014 Society of Camera Operators Lifetime Achievement, Technical Achievement, Historical Shot and Camera Operator of the Year Awards to be held this Saturday March 8, 2014 at the Guerin Pavilion in Los Angeles will pay tribute to fallen camera assistant, Sarah Jones. Here’s more from the DP, Dan Kneece:
“Just finished cutting the SOC tribute to Sarah Jones for the SOC Lifetime Achievement Awards on this coming Saturday. It turned out beautifully. Many thanks to all of you for your photo contributions. It will be on the SOC website at some point but will be viewable on the big screen at the Skirball Center here in LA on March 8th. www.soc.org for details.”
Recently, a social media movement spawning from a Facebook page, facebook.com/slatesforsarah, hosted a petition pushing AMPAS to include Jones in their annual memoriam. She was included at the end of the ‘In Memoriam’ segment during the Oscars Sunday. Her name was briefly seen in a graphic promoting the online “In Memoriam” gallery.
Jones was struck and killed when a freight train crossing a 110-year-old trestle above the Altamaha River in Wayne County, Georgia smashed into a bed that was on the bridge for a dream sequence. The production, a biopic about Gregg Allman entitled MIDNIGHT RIDER was only on its first day of production. Other crew members were struck by flying debris, and seven were hospitalized. However, most escaped the train’s path and and were uninjured, including director Randall Miller and lead star William Hurt.
Open Road Films, the film’s U.S. distributor; Unclaimed Freight, the Pasadena company producing the film; and the Georgia-based Meddin Studios film crew had permission from the railroad operator to film “Midnight Rider” near the railroad tracks, but they did not have permission to be on it, authorities said. The sheriff’s office near Jessup, Georgia, where the production was located, is conducting a homicide investigation to determine whether the film’s producers are ultimately responsible for the accident. Variety reports that personnel could face criminal charges, including the obstruction of a railroad line and criminal trespassing.
Joe Gardner, the lead detective on the case, said he was still waiting to receive copies of the correspondence between CSX and the filmmakers. “CSX has told me they were aware they were out there, but they did not have permission to be on the train tracks,” Gardner told reporters last week. Gardner said the sheriff’s investigation would likely take several weeks.
This tragedy has galvanized the film industry as a whole, but specifically those working within the camera department as it all too clearly illustrates an ongoing issue of crew safety. Last week, Steven Poster, ASC, president of the Local 600 ICG, released the following statement:
“Local 600s membership and IATSE members across the country are mourning the loss of Sarah Jones, a 27-year old camera assistant, who died in a tragic accident last Thursday while shooting on the set of MIDNIGHT RIDER in Savannah, Georgia. Sarah was a smart, talented camera assistant with an infectious personality and a promising career ahead of her.
When Locals 600 and 491 received the call about the accident on late Thursday afternoon (local time), we immediately sent representatives to the site. We are cooperating with ongoing government investigations including OSHA, and NTSB and the Local Sheriff’s office and we are providing grief counseling for the crew.
The safety of our crews is of paramount importance to this union and we will work tirelessly to ensure that a tragedy of this kind never happens again.There is no way we can mitigate the pain and the loss of Sarah. But we hope that something good can come out of this very unfortunate situation. It will surely shape our talks with producers in the future. There will be memorials across the country to honor the memory of beloved member, Sarah Jones.”
700 mourners gathered in Atlanta on Sunday to remember Sarah Jones, at the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Mershon Hall. It was attended by friends, family and members of the Local 600 branch of the IATSE union, as well as one of the people injured in the accident that killed Jones.
The Local 600 is planning a scholarship in her name, and a candlelight vigil on Friday to highlight the issue of on-set safety.
Jones had also worked as a camera assistant on “The Vampire Diaries” television show, several commercials and a couple of made-for-TV movies, according to her resume and IMDB
According to her obituary, the family is requesting that donations be made to: BC Education Foundation Sarah Jones Scholarship Fund c/o Brookland-Cayce High School 1300 State Street, Cayce, SC 29033
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