“I’m wearing this for Sarah Jones – with honor,” said Criminal Minds co-exec producer Harry Bring, patting the memorial ribbon on his lapel while presenting at the first inaugural Location Managers Guild of America (LMGA) Awards Saturday night. Bring took a moment before handing out the LMGA awards for television work to pay tribute to the camera assistant who was killed by a train Feb. 20 during filming on Midnight Rider. (See winners of the first LMGA Awards here.)
“I hired Sarah on her first job when she was an intern, still going to college. The accident is deep in our hearts and will set safety as the most important thing on sets for years to come,” he said to applause from the audience of location professionals inside the Writers Guild Of America theater. Jones started her career interning on Army Wives, which Bring exec produced.
Bring praised the LMGA members for the vital work they do on set, a sentiment echoed in a taped message from Nebraska director and Eva Monley Award recipient Alexander Payne who noted that he prefers to shoot on locations rather than sets on all of his film and relies on his location pros as key creative collaborators: “Choice of location – Nebraska, Hawaii, California wine country – is as germane to a film as the story itself.”
Related: ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ ‘Iron Man 3′ Win Top Honors At First Annual Location Managers Guild Awards
The challenges location managers and scouts face on television and film shoots – barking dogs, unhappy location owners, overhead airplanes – often became comic fodder for the evening hosted by comedian Jamie Kaler. An added boost of humor, and star power, came when special guest Billy Crystal took the stage to present the LMGA’s Humanitarian Award to DP and director Haskell Wexler, who shot Crystal’s baseball 2001 HBO film 61*.
Wexler co-founded the 12 On/12 Off campaign to raise awareness around on-set health and safety, particularly where long work hours leading to sleep deprivation is concerned. He directed the 2006 docu Who Needs Sleep? about Hollywood’s working conditions. “I want more humane conditions for the way we work,” said Wexler. “It’s a strange contradiction because most of us are doing something which we love to do, we’re making entertainment. What are our priorities? Are our priorities human, or are our priorities to feed the bottom line?”