The Society of Camera Operators held an in memoriam tribute to assistant camerawoman Sarah Jones as part of its annual awards ceremony tonight at the Skirball Cultural Center. The tribute was the second to be held for the 27-year-old this weekend following Friday’s Sunset Boulevard candlelight walk and vigil in her honor, which counted nearly 1,000 local union members. Attending both events were Jones’ parents Richard and Elizabeth from South Carolina. Jones was killed in an on-set train accident during the production of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider on February 20 in Jesup, GA. Jones’ death has spurred an industrywide outcry for improved safety standards.
As part of the ceremony, her parents were presented with a plaque accepting her as an honorary member of the SOC. Former SOC president Dan Kneece, who cut together the moving tribute video of Jones as the Hall & Oates song “Sara Smile” played, said he was crying as he put together the presentation. Although he didn’t know Jones personally, he was friends with her on Facebook because of a mutual friend, Amanda Etheridge, who spoke at Friday night’s memorial about her friend and mentor. The tribute was part of the SOC’s annual awards ceremony tonight in which Gravity‘s Peter Taylor won the Camera Operator of the Year-Feature Film award and Mad Men‘s Don Devine the Camera Operator of the Year-TV award. The event took place before an audience of 500, including Society of Camera Operators and International Cinematographer Guild members. (See the full list of winners an honorees below.)
There has been some commentary that this concern over safety will lapse as people move on from the tragedy and onto other jobs. That it will fade from memory, but both Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, and Kneece said the production community is committed. “The movement will continue,” said Kneece. “It was such an outrageous act. They knew exactly what they did. They drove to the spot which was an hour away for that (shot). We have to look out for each other because no one is going to do it for us.” SOC’s awards chair David Frederick also asked the crowd gathered at the Skirball to show their commitment by signing up for the A Pledge to Sarah Facebook page.
There were standing ovations this year not only for the Lifetime Achievement winners but also one for Jones’ father Richard, who said from the podium, “I know that she’s looking down right now with an extra big smile.” He relayed a story about hiking on a trail earlier in the day and coming across two young people making a film and so he stop and chatted, “and Sarah Jones’ name came up and they said they hoped to be like her as they got more into movies. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I really hope that enthusiasm lives on.” He also thanked the camera operators and all those who have sent an outpouring of support. “We do appreciate the recognition for Sarah Jones,” he said. “She was truly a wonderful person. We heard these kind words far before her untimely death, and certainly the overwhelming support that we’ve received from all over the world has been so comforting … Elizabeth, her mother and I, we cannot express how much we appreciate that grace and comfort that we received.”
A shout out to Bob Joyce, too, who cut together the Awards show’s opening video sequence (extremely well done) in less than 48 hours.
LOS ANGELES, March 8, 2014 — The Society of Camera Operators (SOC) tonight announced winners of the Camera Operator of the Year Awards in film and television at its 2014 Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards. Additional honors were presented to previously announced recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Service Award, Technical Achievement Award and President’s Award during the black-tie event in Herscher Hall at the Skirball Cultural Center. The event took place before an audience of 500, including SOC and International Cinematographer Guild (ICG) members, industry executives and press. SOC Vice President and Awards Executive Producer David Frederick, SOC, presided over the event with emcee Bruce Carse. All proceeds from the show are donated to the Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
A special In Memoriam tribute to Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old assistant camerawoman killed by a train while filming Midnight Rider on February 20, was included in the evening’s events. Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth, were in attendance.
Lifetime Achievement Award recipients included Chris Haarhoff, SOC, Camera Operator; Bill Coe, Camera Technician; Barry Wetcher, SMPSP, Still Photographer; Jack Carpenter, Mobile Camera Platform Operator. The Distinguished Service Award was presented to the Founder of Filmtools, Inc., Stan McClain, SOC. Leonard Chapman, Founder of Chapman-Leonard Studio Equipment, received the President’s Award. Accepting the Technical Achievement Awards were President Tom Hallman, on behalf of Pictorvision, and Dave Grober, Founder and President, on behalf of Motion Picture Marine. The honor for Historical Shot went to J. Michael Muro for his zip line shot in The Mighty Quinn.
Presenters for this year’s awards were producer/director Will Gluck (Annie) and producer Duncan Henderson (Oblivion). Guests included ICG President Steven Poster, ICG National Executive Director Bruce Doering, SOC President Chris Tufty, President of Local 871 Michele Tedlis Sorbo and President of Local 80 Russell Nordstedt. Richard Crudo, President of American Society of Cinematographers, presented the Camera Operator of the Year Awards.
SOC 2014 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS:
Camera Operator of the Year – Feature Film
Peter Taylor, ACO, SOC – Gravity
Camera Operator of the Year – Television
Don Devine, SOC – Mad Men