'Midnight Rider' to Resume Production in Los Angeles, IATSE Says

Issue 10 BIZ Sarah Jones Inset Main Image - H 2014
Randy Thompson Photography; Bobby LaBonge

Issue 10 BIZ Sarah Jones Inset Main Image - H 2014

A representative from Unclaimed Freight Productions informed the union of plans to begin shooting again in June; the union expressed concern but said it had no power to prevent a resumption.

Production on Midnight Rider could resume in June and be relocated from Georgia to Los Angeles, according to a message from IATSE on Tuesday.

Filming on the Gregg Allman biopic was suspended in February when camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed while shooting on a train track. Now, however, a producer from Unclaimed Freight Productions has informed the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees of plans to resume the project, with preproduction beginning in a couple of weeks.

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"We have expressed our obvious concerns regarding this production starting again. We have demanded that they provide clearances from any and all governmental agencies and/or police agencies that are investigating this company and the individuals involved," said IATSE international vice president/department director, motion picture & TV production Michael F. Miller, Jr. in a message to members.

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IATSE will require that the production comply with all deposit requirements of the Low Budget Agreement, provide proof of all required insurance and have a set medic and safety officer on location.

"The production has also been informed, in no uncertain terms, that the Union presence on this production will be significant," said Miller.

Although the company did not ask for permission to resume, he stated: "As uncomfortable as this is, we cannot prevent them from starting up again. Whether or not they can get people to work for them is a decision that those people will have to make for themselves. I will keep you apprised as we become aware of additional information."

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The Wayne County, Ga., sheriff's office investigating the 27-year-old Jones' death plans to discuss its findings with the district attorney next week. After that meeting, the two sides will decide whether any charges should be filed regarding the incident, which has led to calls from various parts of the entertainment industry for better on-set safety conditions. 

Jones was mourned in an Atlanta memorial on March 2 and her name was included during the Academy Awards' In Memoriam tribute. Friends of the camera assistant have since set up a website where filmmakers can pledge workplace safety on set during production.