One month ago, on February 20th, Sarah Jones, a 1st Assistant Camera person on the film Midnight Rider, a biopic of Gregg Allman, was struck and killed by a train on a bridge during filming. You may have heard about this unnecessary tragedy, or you might have wondered what that quick banner was at the end of the "In Memoriam" segment during the Oscars. If you're unfamiliar with the situation, or only heard about it in passing, here is The Hollywood Reporter's story on the incident:
Jones's death has struck a cord with filmmakers - crewmen and actors alike - because most of us have taken chances on films which seemed reasonable at the time but not so much so after the fact. The circumstances, as described by a hairstylist whose arm was broken in the same avoidable tragedy, resonate with many of us. We don't understand how such carelessness could occur on a film that wasn't even a guerrilla shoot, but we do understand the willingness of crew people to go above and beyond the call of duty to make a movie. The result has been an outpouring of empathy from the film community - the real film community, not those so wrapped up in their own projects and egos that they don't pay attention to the industry they wish to belong to. One immediate reaction has been a call for stricter safety guidelines on set; another was the campaign to have Sarah recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the telecast (their banner was half-hearted at best, but at least the petition that so many of us signed accomplished something); and "Slates for Sarah," in which AC's acknowledge Sarah on their production slates. The "Slates for Sarah" Facebook page has almost 70,000 followers:
I am particularly moved by a call by Chris Blackmore, a 2nd AC, to call the first shot of each shooting day "the Jonesy." You may or may not know that the last shot of each day is called "the Martini," and that the next to last shot of each day is called "the Abby" (after 1st AD Abby Singer, who liked to give the crew a little advance notice that they could start wrapping up). Calling the first shot of the day "the Jonesy" sounds like a great idea to me; it isn't just a way of acknowledging Sarah Jones, but a reminder to everyone to be careful on set. I'm directing a short this Saturday and Sunday, and we will definitely be announcing, "the Jonesy is up" each day, and on any future productions of mine.
RIP Sarah Jones.