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Friends of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed during production on the Midnight Rider biopic, are encouraging cast and crewmembers throughout the entertainment industry to sign a pledge to ensure safety on set.
Jones was struck and killed by a train during a dangerous shoot in Georgia last month. Since her death, questions have been raised about whether the production had permission to film on live train tracks and why more precautions weren’t taken to protect the safety of those on set.
Now Jones’ friends have set up a website where people, from new production assistants to Hollywood stars, can vow that such an accident will never occur again. The document, which can be signed online, reads in part: “I solemnly pledge from this day forward that a safe set will be my first and highest priority. I pledge to look out for the safety of those around me and in turn will expect others to do the same. As a department head I pledge to speak up on behalf of anyone who comes to me with a concern. As a member of the cast or crew I pledge to always watch out for everyone’s safety, because safety is too big of a job for any one person to cover.”
In another section of the site, the creators say that while they expect sets to be safe, often the focus on safety “can get lost in the collective rush to ‘get the shot’ or ‘make the day.’ ” Although they support guidelines and classes and the safety hotline, they’re also hoping to get crewmembers to be aware of and committed to safety in practice.
“Guidelines, memos, and classes are only effective if we put them into practice and it is our obligation to assure that everyone around us is doing so,” Jones’ friends write. “We have to be our own safety net because we are the only ones there in the moment. We need to be willing to speak up, speak loud, and more importantly. support others in doing so.”
The site also includes safety hotline numbers and a way to print out a pocket-size list, and links to safety guidelines.
The creators also want those who sign the pledge to renew it every year, saying an email will be sent out reminding signees to do so every Feb. 20, the anniversary of Jones’ death.
In addition to Jones, the pledge also invokes Brent Hershman, an assistant camera operator on Pleasantville, who was killed after he fell asleep while driving and hit a utility pole. Hershman had just put in a grueling 19-hour day on the set of the film.
(Photo Credit: Nick Brokaw)
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