'Midnight Rider' Death: DGA Says Employers 'Ultimately Responsible for Ensuring a Safe Set'

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The guild released a statement about last week's tragic accident, which has since prompted concerns about safety on film shoots.

The DGA has released a statement about on-set safety in the wake of the tragic death of a Midnight Rider camera assistant, who was struck and killed by a train on the film's Georgia set.

The death of the assistant, Sarah Jones, has prompted concerns about the safety of crew members on film sets. While the DGA couldn't comment specifically on the Midnight Rider incident, noting that there's an ongoing investigation into the accident, they did express their sympathy for those who were affected.

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"The DGA was extremely saddened to hear of the tragic accident that took place on the set of Midnight Rider," the guild said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "We join with the rest of the entertainment community in the outpouring of sympathy and condolences to all those who were affected."

With respect to on-set safety issues, though, the DGA said that's ultimately the responsibility of the crew members' employers.
"In response to general inquiries about safety on set, it is important to understand that while addressing safety concerns is a collaborative effort, involving competent and qualified safety personnel, DGA members, and other crew members, those ultimately responsible for ensuring a safe set are the employers," the guild said in its statement.

The Directors Guild of Canada, meanwhile, said that directors need to be aware of potential dangers in on-location shoots.

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"Directors need to be aware of potential jeopardy in asking for unplanned shots requiring access to property outside the contracted work zone," the Canadian guild said in a statement Tuesday. "On February 20th, she (Jones) ran for her life from an oncoming freight train and was struck and killed when the train hit their set."

The DGC said the film's production company had no permission to be on the train tracks, only in their vicinity, assuming what the DGC calls "cinematic immunity."

"This is a stark reminder that it is truly a false premise. There is no immunity. Instead, there is jeopardy, risk and the potential for lost lives," the guild said of film and TV shoots that venture beyond the boundaries of permits or location contracts.