Sarah Jones Midnight Rider

ATLANTASarah Elizabeth Jones, the camera assistant killed in a train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” was remembered for her adventurous spirit and her spunk, and a kindness that was reflected in the hundreds who showed up at a memorial service on Sunday at Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Outside, cars passed yellow production crew signs with black lettering, reading “Sarah Jones Is All of Us.” The Georgia-based productions of “Hunger Games” and “The Vampire Diaries” supplied the signs, according to an organizer, and they will be placed around the city as the tight-knit community of Atlanta crew members mobilize an enduring campaign to improve on-set safety.

Inside, in a meeting room painted cream-colored green and faux flower petals covering overhead lights, some 800 crew members sat and stood as fellow crew members and friends shared stories of Jones and the love she had for her profession and those she worked with.

Bruce Doering, national executive director of the Intl. Cinematographers Guild IATSE Local 600, recalled that Lloyd Ahern, director of photography on “Army Wives,” found that if ever there was tension on a set, “If Sarah was nearby her presence was like sprinkling pixie dust and everything would cool down.”

Jones came on “Army Wives” as an intern, and “within two weeks she as the most popular person on the crew,” Doering said.

Robert Robinson, camera operator on “The Vampire Diaries,” where Jones once worked, noted that the set shut down 20 minutes after they learned of Jones’ death. Robinson quoted Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“That was Sarah,” he said.

Those at the memorial wore black armbands, and buttons with the message, “We are Sarah Jones!” were handed out by Chris Clark, a friend and key grip who is among those organizing the safety awareness campaign. There were several references to the effort to include Jones in the In Memoriam segment at Sunday night’s Oscars, and Doering noted that even IATSE Intl. President Matthew Loeb sent an email urging that she be included, along with influential Academy members.

Local 600 is planning a scholarship in her name, but also a candlelight vigil on Friday to highlight the issue on on-set safety. A message is that production crews shouldn’t have to be put in harm’s way, or even fear reprisals should they speak up about an unsafe working condition.

“What I know and what I can tell you is that since this terrible accident happened, the IATSE and all of the members and all of the members in Local 600, including staff in our offices, have been trying to figure out how this happened,” Doering told the crowd. “We are absolutely committed to taking the issue of unsafe conditions as far as we can take it, and we will take care of it just like Sarah did it: Full on. The way you have lived your life has inspired all of us. No son or daughter should ever suffer this kind of fate in our industry again.”

The three-hour service included a prelude of some of Jones’ favorite songs, include Adele Wilson’s version of “Singing In the Rain,” and the Rev. John Strickland read a poem by Carol Mirkel, “Afterglow.”

Her father, Richard Jones, recalled his final conversation with his daughter, the day before the Feb. 20 accident. Via Facetime, she showed him the Savannah home were she would be living for six weeks while “Midnight Rider” was to be in production.

“I almost didn’t say it, but I did, ‘I love you,’” he said of their conversation.

After thanking the crowd, he added, “I ask you to see to it our daughter’s life is not lost in vain, that you see to it that this does not happen to someone else’s daughter or son.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more
Post A Comment 3