Richard Crudo, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, has blamed the Feb. 20 death of second camera assistant Sarah Jones on a larger “loss of humanity” in society.
In a letter published on the ASC web site, Crudo asserts that details surrounding the death have been well documented but “something important” has been lost in the reportage.
“The facts, as they’ve been related, describe a horrible and preventable tragedy,” he said. “The public outpouring of grief by individuals and groups connected to the camera department was remarkable, but the fact that it came almost exclusively from us uncovered a dark secret most of us have known for quite some time: This industry is in trouble, and I don’t mean economically, but spiritually.”
Crudo goes on to say that he’s concerned about the “disdain” with which so many people deal with each other on the road, in the supermarket, at the ballpark and on sets.
“I can’t imagine that anyone associated with ‘Midnight Rider’ wished for Sarah Jones to be killed while doing her job,” he wrote. “Unless they’re followed by corresponding action, good intentions mean nothing, and that’s especially true in this case. The only people who really know what attitudes led to this tragedy are those who were with her at the location that day. But if you think a certain loss of humanity didn’t play a primary role in what happened, you might be beyond saving yourself.”
Crudo concluded his missive by calling on other cinematographers to keep sets safe as an appropriate tribute to Jones.
“As directors of photography, we have always been responsible for the safety of our crews, and it is incumbent upon us to find ways to be more decent and caring not only to them, but also to everyone we know,” he said “It won’t always be easy; at times, it will run counter to initial impulses. But if our example proves worthy, it might make a start toward curing the spiritual sickness I have described. It would also stand as the most profound tribute any of us could offer to the memory of Sarah Jones.”