I suppose it’s not a huge secret that film sets aren’t exactly the safest working environment. We routinely enter condemned buildings, work in extreme heat and/or cold (sometimes on the same day), navigate treacherous footing, run cable through human waste, inhale asbestos and snack on lead paint chips (oh, wait. That’s just the ‘healthy’ baked potato chips. My bad).
In the past decade or so, there has been a concerted effort to make sets safer for everyone, and it’s been very successful.
But accidents sometimes still happen. Mostly those accidents are just that. Accidental. No fault, no blame just…Oops.
But sometimes, it is someone’s fault. In this particular case, a criminally negligent someone’s fault.
About a week ago, a film crew in Georgia were trying to get a shot for a Gregg Allman biopic – a dream sequence with a bed on railroad tracks.
At first it was just a terse announcement on some of the film-worker centric Facebook circles.
Camera assistant killed while shooting. No details.
Then, an ID. Sarah Elizabeth Jones, age 27.
Then, more details started to emerge, and I began to suspect that this was going to get really bad.
Sadly, I was right. I hate being right.
The production company had requested a permit to shoot on the train tracks, and had been denied.
Someone decided to order the crew to set up the shot on the tracks anyhow.
Just stop and think about that for a second. Someone – we don’t know exactly who as the production company has suddenly gotten very, very tight-lipped and lawyered up – knew that they were not allowed to be on a live fucking rail line and decided to do it anyways.
A train came. About 15 minutes later, another train came. The crew began setting up, and in about 20 minutes, another train came. There was approximately one minute of warning. The crew tried desperately to clear the track in time, but one young woman was unable to do so and was struck while one of her co-workers tried to save her.
Died. For a stupid fucking movie. Produced by a fucking waste of carbon about a fucking has-been waste of carbon whose claim to fame is fucking Cher.
I jest, of course. The subject of the movie is completely irrelevant. It wouldn’t matter if it was a movie about a paralysed nun who saved a busload of adorable orphans from Nazis.
It’s not worth a life. Any life – even the life of someone who has chosen to wear a toolbelt and not get any glory or residuals.
The “Slates for Sarah” thing is very sweet, but the person who is responsible for this needs to suffer, and greatly.
Sadly, I don’t see that happening.
What I do see is (hopefully) more people saying ‘no’.
As in: “I’m sorry, Mr Producer. This isn’t safe. Oh, you want to fire me? Fine. I’ll live to work another day, and you can burn in Hell.”
Oh, wait. My bad. Burning in hell is too good for some people.