Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sarah Jones and Crew Safety
When 2nd assistant camera Sarah Jones died on-set last month, the Industry mourned the 27-year-old by honoring her at the at various industry events, including the Oscars (sort of). Her death sparked a debate regarding safety on-set. How far is too far, and how responsible should senior crew members and above-the-liners be when a crew member dies on-duty?

Sets are dangerous places. Lighting alone has a tripping hazard, a fire hazard, a burn hazard, and a heavy object hazard. Sarah was knocked down by debris from an unexpected train, and then was hit by that train. In addition to her death, several crew members were injured. This happened in a state where filmmaking is growing exponentially. Filmmaking is still new territory in the South, and many of the safety regulations set forth by Hollywood are unenforced by the Southern states. 

However, there is an elephant in the room: even among California crews, safety regulations are ignored in favor of lower cost. In other industries, such as construction or shipbuilding, workers are overcompensated for dangerous work conditions, but the employer still has an obligation to follow OSHA standards. Film crews are fortunate to be paid at all. And crew members often do as they are told, in fear of “never working in this town again.” That attitude must change.

Let’s make an Industry-wide pledge to put safety first! Urge extra-Hollywood states to adopt stringent safety regulations. Enforce the 12-hour work day and turnaround. Never put your crew in danger. And when marking your slate this year, do it for Sarah!

Happy Filmmaking!

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