Crew around Los Angeles are getting word that pre-production on Midnight Rider is starting up in a few weeks back in L.A. with Randall Miller at the helm. Deadline broke the news earlier this week that Miller and his Unclaimed Freight banner were trying to resume filming on the Gregg Allman biopic following the tragic death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in Georgia. The decision to continue with the film has prompted a flurry of tweets to Allman and has given rise to a new Facebook page called “I REFUSE to work on Midnight Rider” which the daughter of director John Frankenheimer said everyone should join.
Jones, 27, was killed February 20 in Wayne County, GA in a train collision during filming on the pic. Seven other crew members were injured and multiple investigations are underway to determine the responsible parties.
“Morally how can he continue, knowing that his decision cost Sarah Jones her life? He had the ability to say no,” said Frankenheimer, who works as a location manager. “As the daughter of a director and I know that the director is the final voice. And if the director and producer allow it to happen, they have to accept responsibility.” She added: “It infuriates me. I find it an affront to all of us. “He doesn’t deserve a crew of any kind. No one should agree to work on this film. I find it shameful. I cannot believe that this man has the chutzpah to do this. If you don’t speak up then that’s just as bad.”
@AllmanBiopic How can you continue to film after the death of Sarah Jones? Have you no decency, no hearts, no honor???
— Dan Kneece (@dankneece) April 16, 2014
@GreggAllmanNews Re: “Midnight Rider” Will you please keep the alleged killers of Sarah Jones in Georgia?…L.A. does not want them!
— Tom Lackey (@tlaelvis) April 17, 2014
IATSE Int’l VP Mike Miller issued a letter to members yesterday informing them of the union’s concerns over the production resuming “in a couple weeks.” A source close to the production, however, tells Deadline “there is no firm date, and discussions are still being held.”
According to the union’s letter, IATSE has asked that investigating agencies clear the production and its principals before filming restarts. The union says they’ll also hold Unclaimed Freight to a number of strict safety regulations, including employing a safety officer on set in addition to a set medic. The letter also states that “whether or not they can get people to work for them is a decision that those people will have to make for themselves.” Read it in full here:
A producer of Midnight Rider (Unclaimed Freight Prod.) has called the IA to inform us that they will be resuming production of Midnight Rider in Los Angeles in June with pre-production starting in a couple weeks.
We have expressed our obvious concerns regarding this production starting again. We have demanded that they provide clearances from any and all governmental agencies and/or police agencies that are investigating this company and the individuals involved. We will require that they comply with all deposit requirements of the Low Budget Agreement. The company has agreed to provide proof of all required insurance as well. In addition to a Set Medic, the IA will require that the company employ a Safety Officer, referred by the Union to protect our members as well as other crew members working on this production. The production has also been informed, in no uncertain terms, that the Union presence on this production will be significant.
The company did not ask for permission and was not granted permission to restart production. As uncomfortable as this is, we cannot prevent them from starting up again. Whether or not they can get people to work for them is a decision that those people will have to make for themselves. I will keep you apprised as we become aware of additional information.
Michael F. Miller, Jr.
International Vice President
Department Director, Motion Picture & Television Production