Petition to include Sarah Jones, who was tragically killed on a film set last week, in the 'In Memorium' segment at the Oscars gains close to 30,000 signatures in less than two days.

Sarah Jones Hit By A Train During Filming

Sarah Jones, 27, was killed on Thursday, Feb. 20 when she was hit by a train on the set of Midnight Rider, a Gregg Allman biopic. The film, which was in pre-production and is set to star Eliza Dushku, Bradley Whitford and William Hurt, has now been postponed. Director Randall Miller released a statement through a rep announcing the news, saying, “In light of the tragic loss, we have decided to put the production of Midnight Rider on hold.”

Jones died instantly when a train arrived unexpectedly while the crew was setting up a shot involving a mattress on the bridge tracks. According to initial reports, the crew had been warned about two trains that were set to cross the tracks when a third came unannounced, giving them a whistle warning of only a minute to clear the area. Miller reportedly fell on to the tracks and was saved by the still photographer, but the train collided with the mattress, sending debris everywhere and making it more difficult for crew members to get off the bridge to safety. Jones, who was working as the second camera assistant, was struck by the train. Several other crewmembers were injured by debris from the mattress.

The film crew company working for Midnight Rider, Meddin Studios, has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that “no corners were cut” to facilitate production.


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“This is not guerrilla filmmaking or a group of indie film makers trying to grab a shot. It was weeks of communications and scouting multiple places,” Nick Grant, Meddin Studios creative director, told Variety.

According to the Wayne County Sherriff’s Department, however, the film crew had permission to shoot on private property adjacent to the train tracks, but not on the tracks themselves. CSX Railroad, which owns the tracks, told investigators that the film crew did not have permission to be on the tracks themselves. Meddin Studios claims that CSX is lying “because they can retract their statement in six months and it will have no press around it.”

The sherrif’s report, released on Monday, Feb. 24, states that the film crew had been explicitly denied permission to shoot on the train tracks by CSX in e-mails exchanged between the Midnight Rider location manager, Charlie Baxter and CSX employee Carla Groleau. Sherrif Sergeat Ben Robertson wrote that he witnessed a conversation in which executive producer Jay Sedrish seemed to admit that the film crew did not have permission to film on the tracks, saying, “That’s complicated” when asked point blank if he had permission to be on the train tracks.

Slates For Sarah

Friends and colleagues of Jones’ started a Facebook page and industry-wide movement to honor her memory called ‘Slates for Sarah.’ Sets from all over the world, from South Africa to Ireland to the U.S., have sent in photos of their slates with messages of love for Jones written on them.

The page has over 31,000 likes and continues to grow while Sarah Jones hashtags gain popularity on Twitter, such as ‘#MoreBaconForSarah’ (Jones was known for her love of bacon) and ‘#SafetyForSarah’ and ‘#SafetyForAll.’

‘Slates for Sarah’ has spread to small foreign productions and more high profile Hollywood television and film sets, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Entourage. Jones frequently worked on the Atlanta set of The CW’s The Vampire Diaries and star Nina Dobrev has been particularly vocal in her support of ‘Slates for Sarah.’

Dobrev also re-tweeted a link to a petition started by ‘Slates For Sarah’ to include Jones in the Academy Awards ‘In Memorium’ segment on Sunday. The online petition has already received over 29,000 signatures in less than 48 hours and continues to gain speed. It will be given to The Academy on Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m.

The Vampire Diaries crew was also bused to South Carolina to attend Jones’ memorial on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Other shows that have shared their solidarity with Jones include The Following, Bones, The Blacklist, NCIS, Awkward, True Blood and many more.

The movement has even spread throughout the many different aspects of filmmaking and beyond, with people both involved and not involved with the film industry sharing homemade signs or graphics to show their support.

The Academy has not responded to the petition.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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