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Frank Barrera

Sarah Jones

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Let Sarah's death be a horrible reminder for all of us to slow down from time to time when you're on set and ask yourself or a co -worker this question: "Is what the production unit currently doing 100% safe or not?" And if the answer is "No" then immediately speak with a department head or if you are the department head speak with the 1st AD and have your safety concerns addressed.

 

I can not hide my anger over the completely avoidable death of this young crew member.

 

The following link is from a local newspaper that helps put a face to the name of Sarah Jones.

 

http://www.thestate.com/2014/02/20/3281238/train-strikes-allman-biopic-film.html

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its hard to reserve judgement until the investigation is complete but it really does appear that at least one person with full knowlegde of the land owner's restrictions disregarded those limitations and literally ordered some crew on to that bridge. and even if the camera was never actually on the tracks themselves a prop certainly was placed on the tracks. someone had to place that prop. i beleive that person or persons (from the art/prop dept) is among the injured.

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A terrible, terrible tragedy. It was a legitimate shoot, with a highly experienced crew, and worked out around the trains' schedules well in advance. I think the lesson to learn from it is, in any similarly localised potentially dangerous situation, if something goes wrong, and danger starts approaching just run - drop everything and run.

 

There isn't a prop or piece of equipment in this world worth injuring yourself over, let alone dying for. If they'd just left the bed and run straight away, they may have got far enough away from it to avoid this whole sad event.

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No doubt the investigation will reveal more, although at the first glance it appears there didn't seem to be a system in place that allowed the film crew to be in direct communication with the railway signalling people to ensure that there wasn't any additional, unscheduled trains coming before they moved onto the tracks. There didn't seem to be working on the track safety system in place, eg warning charges on the track informing the train driver that the track was obstructed, so they should stop.

 

It's a sad tragedy.

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A terrible, terrible tragedy. It was a legitimate shoot, with a highly experienced crew, and worked out around the trains' schedules well in advance. I think the lesson to learn from it is, in any similarly localised potentially dangerous situation, if something goes wrong, and danger starts approaching just run - drop everything and run.

 

There isn't a prop or piece of equipment in this world worth injuring yourself over, let alone dying for. If they'd just left the bed and run straight away, they may have got far enough away from it to avoid this whole sad event.

Mark, with all due respect, it's 2014. There are a million ways to establish a clear channel of communication with the railway operator to find out when trains are coming or not. Not having done this is criminal negligence, pure and simple.

 

The only lesson to learn is to end dangerous situations once and for all, period.

 

And the long drive home after a long day on set preceeded by a long drive to set must also end. I am sick of driving with death sitting by my side so that production can save a few pennies in a hotel room. I know it's not the same thing, but I do wonder how many of our own die on the road.

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The only time I ever feel like we've got it better in London is when I fall asleep on a train on the way home. I have, for a long time, recognised that it is a safety factor as well as a comfort.

 

Unfortunately:

 

 

 

The only lesson to learn is to end dangerous situations once and for all, period.

 

That you can't do, at least not completely, and it's important to recognise that. Office jobs are probably always going to be safer than filmmaking. But in practice, sure, there's plenty that could be done, and my concerns over the sanity of wandering around on a railway without doubly-redundant safety measures in place remain.

 

P

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As Variety reports, no representative of the railroad was with the production. It's not enough to have a good guess of the schedule to work on an active track; you have to have an engineer or flagman - someone to communicate with the trains. Director, Producer, AD and maybe the DP should go to jail.

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you have to have an engineer or flagman - someone to communicate with the trains. Director, Producer, AD and maybe the DP should go to jail.

Actually, what you have to have is permission to be there, which it seems they did not.

 

I don't believe it's fair to blame the Director, and certainly not the DP. Every Director will ask for shots that are unsafe, or too expensive, or just plain impossible. That's their job. It's the job of the producer to find out if those shots are feasible, and if not, to say 'NO'.

 

Culpability here is going to rest on whether or not they had permission to be on the tracks, and if they didn't, who knew that they didn't. In that scenario, the producers and line producer would have known that the railroad had said No. If they shared that knowledge with the 1st AD, then he or she is also at fault.

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They put up a banner for her after the "In Memoriam" section of the Oscars.

 

R,

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I was surprised by that when it blipped across the screen. It would've been nice if they had a double Banner, for Sarah and all those crew who have died over the years in filming accidents. Small steps.

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Mark, with all due respect, it's 2014. There are a million ways to establish a clear channel of communication with the railway operator to find out when trains are coming or not. Not having done this is criminal negligence, pure and simple.

 

The only lesson to learn is to end dangerous situations once and for all, period.

 

And the long drive home after a long day on set preceeded by a long drive to set must also end. I am sick of driving with death sitting by my side so that production can save a few pennies in a hotel room. I know it's not the same thing, but I do wonder how many of our own die on the road.

 

The Variety article explains pretty clearly that the production HAD established clear communication with the railway well in advance. The article says they were told two trains would come down the track that day, and in the unlikely chance that a third would it would signal it's approach with a whistle. The production waited for the second train to pass before beginning the scene on the track itself.

 

Clearly things were not done as well as they should have been, but it doesn't appear to be a purely one-sided situation.

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Sorry, that's not a good arrangement for working on tracks, especially if it involves putting props on the track itself/ There should've been working on the track arrangements put in place, a whistle sounding is very hit or miss, probably with little opportunely for the train to stop in time.

 

It makes you wonder if the railway company realized what the scene involved, but they should still have had a suitable track qualified representative present while people were filming on or in close proximity to their tracks.

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I get the impression there is a different attitude to train lines in the U.S.

I often see music videos shot in the states with people walking down track and the like.

I also note that someone in one of those articles stated "it was a really busy track with up to 10 trains in a day!"

That many eh!

 

Here in the UK I think people have it drummed into them a lot more that train tracks are NOT SAFE, and train tracks are usually quite fenced off or similar for the most part. I think anyone in the UK would be terrified about going near train tracks to film stuff.

It doesn't stop people doing stupid things around train tracks such as children riding on the outside of trains! (Plumstead about 20 years ago) and people stealing high voltage electrical cable, but there will always be people doing "crazy s***".

 

American productions seem to be a lot more casual around train tracks. You see countless movies in which people run alongside slowly moving trains or are lifted up into boxcars etc etc. It's something of an American movie cliche' in fact.

 

I often say to people "If it's impossible to predict the future then why do people wait at bus stops?"

Having said that, you are being far too certain of the order in the universe if you expect the buses and trains to arrive at certain times as most UK commuters will tell you. People predict the future all the time, just keep in mind that the universe is based on uncertainty, so it isn't wise to put your life on the line, on the basis of such predictions.

 

Freya

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I guess I skipped the important point that the railroad rep - flagman or engineer - comes with the permission to work on the tracks. The production may have learned the schedule, but that is a seperate issue from whether they had permission to work near the tracks or on the tracks.

 

We are inundated with memo's attached to our call sheets; was there a track safety memo distributed to the crew? What does the call sheet for that day say about working on the tracks?

 

I'm a bitter old grip who's happy to say, "No." Sarah Jones was young and working in a slow market, following the instructions of the head of her department, the DP.

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A bed on the tracks on a bridge ?

 

Even without crew on the bridge, it'd be prudent to have independent spotters down the line with large signs saying as much (at least an earnest 'stop') to save an errant train driver from any situation.

 

But with crew .... spotters now with radios and air horns please.

 

I know it's easy to point out this stuff in hindsight ... but jeez, on a bridge ? That scene - the horn, the realisation, the run - filmgoers know it.

 

Regardless of arm chair finger pointing, it's a sad thing.

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I hate to say it, but, so many people are at fault here. The director, producers, the crew even, let's say the industry? The director couldn't think "hey is this shot going to be safe?", the producer couldn't've cleared it? The crew, who is admitting they didn't think it felt safe in general couldn't've said "hey I don't feel safe doing this"? It doesn't help that there's so few work and limited budgets, etc that the crew probably felt that they needed to do anything just to keep their jobs.

 

Sad story all around.

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I'm poorly right now so don't want to write too much as it won't be that sane.

 

Here in the UK we call that a "railway viaduct", not a bridge!

This is a railway viaduct over a river!!!

I'm a bit speechless about it all anyway.

 

This is the kicker for me tho...

 

...all this was for a Dream Sequence!!! :(

 

WTF!

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Agree with Travis here.

 

From shore, several dozen yards away, a voice shouted to the crew that in the event a train appeared, everyone would have 60 seconds to clear the tracks. “Everybody on the crew was tripping over that,” says Gilliard. “A minute? Are you serious?” By now, she and two other crewmembers were nervous enough that before shooting, they gathered in an informal prayer circle. “Lord, please protect us on these tracks,” murmured Gilliard. “Surround us with your angels and help us, Lord.”

 

 

Honestly people, you need to make choices rather than just doing whatever because you feel "you have to".

You don't have to. You also aren't doing anyone any favors by not talking to the director / producer about your concerns. because when something like this happens the only director who benefits will be the funeral director.

 

You are not animals, you have been given the power to make choices. Use it.

 

I'm posting this link again in case people missed it earlier:

 

http://pledgetosarah.org/sarah-s-safety-card.html

 

Freya

Edited by Freya Black

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You are not animals, you have been given the power to make choices. Use it.

 

Spoken, if I may make so bold, like someone who's never had to make the choice between a microscopic risk of getting hurt and an absolute certainty of never working for a major client again.

 

P

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