EXCLUSIVE: Filming was suspended following the fatal February 20 train accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones on the Georgia set of Midnight Rider – but Deadline has learned that director/producer Randall Miller is hoping to move forward with the production as early as June.
A source close to Miller confirms that discussions are underway on proceeding with the Gregg Allman biopic, but not in the Savannah-Atlanta region where the Jones death occurred. According to sources with knowledge of the plans, Miller wants to instead resume filming in the Los Angeles area where he and his Unclaimed Freight banner are based. According to one source with knowledge of the production, Allman, who is the executive producer on Midnight Rider, has to sign off on it too but it’s not clear if he has yet. A rep for Allman did not return calls seeking comment. It appears that Miller and Unclaimed Freight believe they have a legal right to move forward to complete the film.
Atlanta-based Jones, 27, died when a train collided with equipment on active tracks in rural Doctortown, GA where the crew of Midnight Rider was set up for filming on a train trestle overlooking the Altamaha River. The film’s producers were reportedly still trying to rally crew to continue filming in the days immediately following the accident. Production was officially suspended six days later; Open Road Films still has a distribution agreement to release the film. Those union members who were involved with the film may have signed a no-strike agreement. No criminal charges have been filed and it’s uncertain what will happen on that front yet.
Investigations are still ongoing and could take months to determine who was legally responsible for the fatal accident, which also left seven other crew members injured. Miller, his Unclaimed Freight production banner, and production crew members could face civil or criminal lawsuits over the tragedy. One hitch will be scheduling in star William Hurt, who was on the Doctortown tracks that day and narrowly missed injury but is currently shooting another film overseas, The Moon and the Sun with Pierce Brosnan. That production is expected to wrap at the end of May. It’s not clear whether Hurt, who was only feet away from the accident when it occurred and was reported to be very shaken by the incident, would return to star in the film or whether the production would recast the Allman role.