Television and film crews around the world, and even the Academy Awards, responded to the death of Columbia, SC-native Sarah Jones last February with the #SlatesForSarah campaign, petitioning in her memory for better working conditions. Now Gregg Allman is speaking up, too.
Following the loss of Jones, a film crew assistant and CofC graduate who was struck by a train on the set of Midnight Rider near Savannah, production of the Gregg Allman biopic was scrapped — temporarily. After learning of the director’s unfortunate plans to go ahead with production, the film’s subject himself pleads for the powers-that-be to reconsider.
Over the weekend, The Hollywood Reporter released a letter from Allman to the director and producers of Midnight Rider. Allman wrote:
“I am writing to you as one human being to another, and appealing to you from my heart. I am asking you from a personal perspective not to go forward.
“When the idea of you producing the film first came about, I was genuinely excited about the possibility of sharing my story with fans around the world. Unfortunately, all of that changed for me on February 20 of this year. While there may have been a possibility that the production might have resumed shortly after that, the reality of Sarah Jones’ tragic death, the loss suffered by the Jones family and injuries to the others involved has led me to realize that for you to continue production would be wrong.
“Your desires as a filmmaker should not outweigh your obligations as a human being. I am asking you to do the right thing and to set aside your attempts to resume the production out of respect for Sarah, her family and the loss that all of us feel so deeply.”
The star William Hurt, who would have played Allman, was on set during the accident and has also shown his lack of support for the film by pulling out. In a letter to a friend published last month in the Los Angeles Times, Hurt wrote that he was “twice assured” all was safe when he arrived on set that day.
“I said, ‘Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge.’ There was a communal pause. No one backed me up. Then, we ….. Just went ahead. I took off my shoes, got on the heavy, metal hospital bed and began preparing,” the Into the Wild actor said. He continued, “We didn’t have sixty seconds. We had less than thirty.”
According to Savannah’s WSAV, the Wayne County, Ga sheriff’s office released an incident report claiming that Unclaimed Freight Productions may not have received the proper permissions from CSX to film on the train trestle that day.