EXCLUSIVE: Two time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler, ASC today threw his support behind the mounting movement calling for accountability in the on-set death of Midnight Rider crew member Sarah Jones. In a letter sent to fellow members of IATSE Local 600 and obtained by Deadline, Wexler supports efforts to include Jones’s name to Sunday’s Oscars In Memoriam tribute and called her death in Thursday’s train incident an act of “criminal negligence.” Wexler co-founded a group called 12on/12off which advocates a rehaul of current standards that allow for excessively long work hours and questionably safe working conditions on film and TV sets across the industry. In 2006 he directed the documentary Who Needs Sleep? about the dangers crews face in situations in which such health concerns are not prioritized. Read Wexler’s letter:
Dear Fellow Workers,
I am part of a group asking that Sarah Jones’ name be included in the Academy’s “In Memoriam” section of the Awards telecast this Sunday. Sarah and the three injured crew members were not victims of an “accident” but of criminal negligence. Something that would not have happened if proper safety rules were in place.
Here is a copy of an ad rejected by our Union magazine, ICG. I was told that the magazine is on, “high alert” on this subject of workplace safety, especially if it comes from me! In this case, the subject comes from the IATSE. They say the magazine doesn’t want to deal with this “political football” even though it is an official IATSE resolution.
Employers will work you longer for less money and under questionable safety conditions because it is their duty to prioritize the bottom line. As individuals we cannot complain. That’s why we need a Union to speak for us, certainly when our safety, our health, and our very lives are at stake! Since they’ve abdicated that responsibility, please join us at 12on12off.
Wear the hat and never forget that as human beings we believe that every person’s health, safety and life is worth more than any film or TV show we can produce.
Take it easy but take it,