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‘Midnight Rider’ Accident Still Evoking Safety Concerns

The Feb. 20 accident that killed second camera assistant Sarah Jones on the “Midnight Rider” set continues to impact producing four months later.

“After that incident, I can’t tell you how many crew people called me,” said Ellen Schwartz of Black Label Media on Saturday at the “How Many Wrongs Make It Right” panel, part of the Produced By conference held at the Warner Bros. lot.

Schwartz, who produced the upcoming “The Good Lie,” urged the 100 attendees at the panel — which focused on safety and the role of insurers — to let crews know that they can speak up about safety concerns without fear of retribution. “The biggest fear among crew people is getting fired,” she added.

Producer Deborah Moore agreed that it’s crucial for directors to know that the crew has been told to speak up about safety concerns. She also said that accidents tend to happen in unexpected areas rather than in obvious endeavors such as stunts.

“You have to be over-diligent,” Moore added.

Schwartz also noted that there’s a lower quality among crews in incentive-heavy states such as Georgia because of their lack of experience. “That’s my biggest problem with chasing incentives,” she added. “In Atlanta, this is all new to them. They have no passion and they think they know it all.”

Jones was struck and killed by a passing train during a shoot in Wayne County, Ga., and seven others were injured. Multiple government investigations are under way.

Jones’ family filed a lawsuit last month against the film’s director, producers, Gregg Allman, distributor Open Road Films and the companies that own the railroad tracks and surrounding land.

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