Production on Midnight Rider will resume in June but will relocate from Georgia to Los Angeles in the aftermath of a deadly on-set train track accident which killed assistant camera operator Sarah Jones in February.
A message posted on the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees website notes that a Midnight Rider producer from Unclaimed Freight Productions called IATSE with the news that production on the film – which had been suspended following a Feb. 20 collision – would resume in June with “pre-production starting in a couple weeks.”
“We have expressed our obvious concerns regarding this production starting again,” Michael F. Miller, Jr., international vice president/director, motion picture & TV production of the IATSE wrote in a message to members Monday. “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.”
A pre-production shoot on a railway trestle in Wayne County, Ga resulted in the injury of six crew members who were filming a dream sequence on the railroad tracks when a train unexpectedly crossed the tracks. Jones, 27, was struck and killed by the crash.
An investigation into Jones’ death is currently being conducted by the Wayne County, Ga. Sheriff’s office.
Following the accident, a Facebook tribute page titled Slates for Sarah was begun to bring attention of production safety to national attention. It has since accrued more than 70,000 “likes.” Friends of Jones also set up a website, encouraging entertainment industry crew and cast members to sign electronic pledges asking for “a safe set.”
Concessions will be made to ensure the safety of crew members on the new production site, although Unclaimed Freight Production “did not ask for permission and was not granted permission to restart production,” Miller wrote.
IATSE will require that production “comply with all deposit requirements of the Low Budge Agreement,” in addition to providing “proof of all required insurance,” he stated in the message to members. Unclaimed Freight Productions will also be required to employ a set medic and safety officer. Furthermore, “the production has also been informed, in no uncertain terms, that the Union presence on this production will be significant.”
News of production being resumed follows statements made by actor William Hurt - who will play Allman in the biopic - expressing reservations about set safety on the film.
“I said, ‘Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge.’ There was a communal pause. No one backed me up. Then, we ….. Just went ahead. I took off my shoes, got on the heavy, metal hospital bed and began preparing,” the actor wrote in an email to a friend obtained last month by the Los Angeles Times.
The train arrived and then, shared Hurt, “we didn’t have sixty seconds. We had less than thirty.”
Unclaimed Freight Productions did not respond to EW’s request for comment.