Risky Film Set Practices: Not Worth It

Many of us have been there before.  All you need is one last difficult shot and your opus will be complete. You haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time in two months, and your diet consists of Cliff Bars and lattes. The temptation is always there to just hurry up and get the shot and pray nothing happens. I'm not proud of it, but I have made that decision in the past, and luckily for me all went well. However, after following the case surrounding the accidental death of Sarah Jones, can safely say that I will never make that mistake again.

The director of the biopic on Gregg Allmann of the Allmann Brothers, Midnight Rider, resulted in the death of camera assistant Jones, when the crew was filming on a trellis bridge and were unable to get the mattress off of the train tracks before a train came past.  When the train hit the mattress the mattress hit Jones and dragged her onto the tracks.  A tragic and horrible accident, for sure, but not unavoidable.  They didn't have clearance to film, and they didn't place spotters with a radio a mile down either end of the track to give adequate warning.  The result is a 10 year manslaughter conviction for the director, and several of the key producers were also given probation and huge fines.  I am sure that lawsuits will be following soon.

So next time you're on the second to last day of filming your indie masterpiece and you've got to choose between getting that hero shot you've been salivating over for the past two years, and the safety of your talent and crew, choose safety every time, or you'll be wishing you had every time you drop that soap...