An annual internship and training program has been established in honor of Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old camera assistant who was killed last year in Georgia on the set of Midnight Rider. The program, called the Sarah Jones Opportunity, is sponsored by the Warner Bros Television Group, the Cinematographers Guild Local 600, Georgia IATSE Local 479, The Vampire Diaries and SIM Digital, with support from the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment.
“Sarah was a beloved member of our camera crew,” said Julie Plec, executive producer of The Vampire Diaries. “Her vivid, delightful personality, extraordinary work ethic, and deep love for the creative and technical aspects of her job made her the kind of artist any production would be lucky to have on the team. Her family at The Vampire Diaries is excited to honor her memory by providing opportunities and opening doors for more people like her.”
“Local 600 is proud to partner with Warner Bros. in honoring the spirit of our beloved Sarah Jones,” said Bruce Doering, national executive director of the International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600. “Her life was an inspiration to every camera assistant, and this program is all about paying tribute to her legacy and training those who often do not have the opportunity to forge careers in motion pictures.”
The first phase of the program involves a 20-week paid internship and camera training at SIM Digital’s Atlanta office. Participants learn all aspects of digital cinematography, including HD, 2K and 4K camera technologies, and digital loading. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit Warner Bros. Television sets to observe camera crews at work and to begin building their network of industry contacts.
Those who successfully complete the SIM Digital internship move on to the second phase of program, working 30 days as a Cinematographers Guild-covered crew member on an Atlanta-based WBTV production such as The Vampire Diaries or The Originals. The participant will work as part of a show’s camera department, gaining practical experience and on-the-job training.
Once the program is completed, the camera guild will waive its initiation fee and the participant will then be eligible to join the guild and qualify for the Industry Experience Roster, the list of those eligible to work on union productions.
The Sarah Jones Opportunity, which is only being announced today, has already seen its first graduate – Chelsea Craig, a former film school student from Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC, where Jones had also been a student. Craig recently completed the program and is now a member of the Cinematographers Guild.
Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, said they are proud that their daughter’s memory is being so honored. “It is our hope,” they said, “that her spirit will live on through this program, which gives other aspiring filmmakers the chance to pursue their dreams in a field that Sarah loved. Never forget: Never again shall anyone die while making a movie.”
“No one can replace Sarah, but we want to be part of a driving force behind making the world a better place in her absence, by mentoring others who will follow in her path,” said Rob Sim, president and CEO of the SIM Group.
“Sarah was a vital part of the Atlanta production community, and she touched many lives,” said James Martin, chief strategy officer of the SIM Group. “We want to help make a difference in Sarah’s name through this training program.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said that his film office “is proud to be a part of the selection committee that will give this incredible opportunity to a young person who aspires to build a career in the film and television industry. This internship will support individuals who demonstrate talent as well as excellence in their work ethic and attitude.”
The application process for the 2015 Sarah Jones Opportunity will begin in the next few months.