EXCLUSIVE: On Feb. 20, it will be four years since Sarah Jones’ life was taken away on a train trestle in Georgia during the first day of shooting the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Several other crew members were injured, including hairstylist artist Joyce Gilliard whose arm was almost torn off as she narrowly escaped death on the train track. Gilliard has now committed herself to safety issues and just pulled together a PSA that, coincidentally, includes family members of three of the people Deadline happened to write about last week when we addressed the issue of brutally long hours and the hazards of what is known as Drowsy Driving.
Volunteer crew members from across the country — and creative director Brad Jayne — helped her put this powerful PSA together for her organization, iSAFE! TV and Film. The words behind the acronym is Industry Safety Awareness for Everyone with Feb. 20th being recognized as iSAFE! Day. She hopes this will take off the way the Me, Too movement did to get cast and crew members to speak up when they are not feeling safe. The calling card of iSAFE! is “Work. Be Safe. Go Home.”
“I am doing this to help save lives on film sets to show that when safety precautions aren’t taken seriously, it affects real people and real families,” said Gilliard. “No one should lose a limb or their life doing what they love.” The PSA is being launched right now across crew and safety sites ahead of the four-year mark of the death of her colleague Jones. She started the project last October and just finished it today.
Gilliard is working to put together a Safety Panel discussion on February 20 in Los Angeles area. She is collaborating with the wife of camera assistant Brent Hershman who was killed in 1997 when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed his car into a utility pole after working a 19-hour day (which had been preceded by four 15-hour days). Deborah Hershman is featured in the video with their daughter.
Also in the video is the mother of Gary Joe Tuck, the 48-year-old Longmire crew member who was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel and rolled his car on a New Mexico highway after working an 18-hour shift (from 9 AM-3 AM). He was a Teamster driver for Local 492 and a member of SAG.
Others in the video include the parents of Sarah Jones who became strong advocates for set safety after the death of their 27 year-old daughter. Each family is holding a photo of their loved ones who are no longer here.
Gilliard and another injured Midnight Rider crew member (key set costumer) Karen Keyes are seen on the video holding each other. “We went through something horrific together but we are still here fighting for the safety of others,” said Gilliard.