An online petition has been launched calling on the DGA to expel Randall Miller, Jay Sedrish and Hillary Schwartz from the union’s ranks. All three were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March in connection with the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones last year on the set of Midnight Rider.
Miller, the film’s director, is serving a two-year jail sentence, and the conditions of his plea bargain state he can’t work as a director for 10 years. Schwartz, the film’s assistant director, was sentenced to 10 years’ probation, during which time she can’t work as a director or assistant director. Sedrish, the film’s executive producer and unit production manager, also got 10 years’ probation and can’t work as a director or an assistant director — although he can work as a UPM.
This marks the third petition to be launched in the past week urging someone to do something about Miller, whose attorney recently filed a motion to free him from Wayne County, GA, jail after serving nine months of his sentence. Last week, a petition was started to keep him in jail, and earlier this week, his sister started a petition to get him out of jail.
A hearing on his motion for an early release has been set for December 23.
The newest Change.org petition, which has been signed by more than 900 people, was started by set dresser Mike Loomer, who is not a member of the DGA. In an accompanying statement, he said Miller, Schwartz and Sedrish “should never be allowed to work as professional union filmmakers again. I don’t write this in haste, I take very seriously the implication that I am calling for someone’s livelihood to be taken away from them, but better their livelihood than another’s life. Please sign this petition and share it among our brothers and sisters to show that we will no longer tolerate this kind of dangerous behavior.”
DGA member Matti Kluttz, an assistant director who signed the petition, wrote: “I know of guild members who have been stripped of their membership for less. Certainly these repugnant individuals, with no class, taste, or respect. should be treated similarly, if not worse, for their blatant manslaughter and disregard for human lives.”
Turi Meyer, a DGA member who worked with Jones on The Vampire Diaries, signed the petition and wrote, “At the very least, the director, Randall Miller, should be removed from the guild and stripped of his DGA card — a card that many of us worked very hard to obtain.”
“It’s about time a petition was started,” wrote Joyce Gilliard, a Midnight Rider crew member who was seriously injured by the same train that killed Jones during filming on a train trestle in Georgia. “If I wasn’t still in legal issues because of them, I would have started it myself. They do not need to be a member of the DGA.”
The DGA declined comment and in any case does not discuss the discipline of its members. Federal labor law provides for due process to be followed in the discipline of union members: that they have the right to specific, written charges; the right to confront and cross-examine accusers; adequate time to prepare a defense; the right to a full and fair hearing; and a decision based on the evidence.