The production of Gregg Allman biopic is halted with no restart date set, in the wake of the tragic accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones and injured many others. "In light of the tragic loss, we have decided to put the production of 'Midnight Rider' on hold," the statement reads.
Jones, 27, was hit by a train when the crew members were filming on a railroad above Altamaha River on February 20 in Wayne County, Ga. At least seven others were injured, including one who was airlifted to a local hospital due to serious injuries to her arm and wrist.
The preliminary report issued by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office suggested that the movie's crew was denied permission to film on the railroad. The tracks where the accident took place are operated by CSX, while the land around it is owned by timber giant Rayonier which granted the crew permission to shoot the film on the property for one day.
The fatal accident prompted calls for the industry to improve on-set safety. Campaigns to establish new guidelines for on-set safety, including one dubbed "Be Safe and Be Heard: The Sarah Jones Safety Initiative", were launched by members of motion picture crews in Atlanta, Savannah and Los Angeles.
On top of that, a campaign to include Jones in this weekend's Oscar "In Memoriam" tribute was posted on Facebook. It collected more than 28k "likes" less than 24 hours after being announced, and it's still counting. The overwhelming support for the late camera assistant will be submitted to The Academy on Friday ahead of its Sunday, March 2 live ceremony.
The Facebook group is also gathering tribute photos for fallen crew members from production crews around the world. So far, the tribute are pictures from the sets of "Drop Dead Diva", "The Vampire Diaries", "Criminal Minds", "Revenge", "Arrow", "Person of Interest", "Bones", "Justified", "Devious Maids" and many more.
Video assist technician Chris Murphy, who created the campaign, said he didn't know Jones personally, "but Sarah could have been any one of us." He told Deadline, "We've all been in that situation before in our thirst to accomplish our jobs and help directors get their visions accomplished."
"When you're working on a job, we are the worker bees. We are the ones that move the equipment around and capture the director's vision," said Murphy. "We put our faith in the production team to make sure permits are applied for and received, locations are approved, and safety protocols are being followed."
"I'm sure that Harold Ramis, whose death recently happened, will be part of that In Memoriam. He's a big figure in Hollywood and in the business, absolutely. But Sarah represents any one of us in that situation. No matter the department, it's about all of us."
"Midnight Rider" features William Hurt as Gregg Allman and The All-American Rejects rocker Tyson Ritter as the musician in his younger years. The Allman Brothers member himself serves as a producer. Hurt was reportedly on the set when the accident happened.