Union president pushes for Oscars tribute of fallen camera operator
Sarah Jones (Source: South Carolina Film Council)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
While Savannah's film community prepares to pay tribute to Sarah Jones on Oscar night, a campaign is underway to have her mentioned during the awards show.
The Wayne County Sheriff's Office, OSHA, National Transportation Safety Board, CSX Railroad and possibly others are all involved in the ongoing investigation into the fatal train wreck one week ago involving cast and crew of the movie "Midnight Rider."
Jones lost her life in that wreck, which union officials said was avoidable.
WTOC spoke to her union president and close friend Ray Brown about Jones, the effort to get Jones' name mentioned during Sunday night's Oscar telecast and spread set safety awareness. He's a key grip by trade and president of IATSE Motion Picture Studio Technicians Local 479 Atlanta.
"I have an 18 year old and a 20 year old. If I had a 27 year old, I would want it to be Sarah," Brown said. "She was one of the most amazing, infectious people I've ever come across in my life. That young lady lit up a room when she walked in with her amazing smile and amazing energy and we are devastated by this tragic incident."
Brown knows production of "Midnight Rider", produced by Unclaimed Freight out of California, in association with Meddin Studios in Savannah, has been suspended.
"It was my understanding people were leaving the production voluntarily," he said.
Brown knows and feels the anger and lack of answers the film community across the world has for what happened to Jones and the crew on the train tracks last Thursday.
"This was completely avoidable," Brown said. "I believe they have made an award winning documentary on their utter lack of concern for public safety."
Brown told us the union isn't looking for apologies from the studios.
"In light of this very tragic and criminal case, it probably serves them best to say nothing. We don't need their apology - we're good," he said.
From Hollywood to New York City and across the globe, Brown, the unions and a growing number of the film industry, through Slates for Sarah on Facebook, just want to give Sarah's family, and her memory, the ultimate tribute; a mention during the Academy Awards.
"We've left no stone unturned and used an aggressive campaign on Twitter to reach out to Ellen DeGeneres in hopes she will use her influence to make mention of Sarah's tragic passing," Brown said.
"We'll miss her beyond anything we've had happen to us in decades," he added.
So far, Brown said Oscar producers have heard the appeal. They are waiting to find out an answer, and if not, hope DeGeneres will mention Jones herself.
There will be another memorial to remember Jones at 4 p.m. Sunday in Atlanta's Botanical Gardens.
Meanwhile, in Savannah, the local film community will gather at B&D Burgers on Congress Street at 7 p.m. Sunday night to hold a candlelight vigil and take a group photo with Slates for Sarah.