Midnight Rider indictment brings strong reaction - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Midnight Rider indictment brings strong reaction


Filmmakers behind Midnight Rider were indicted Thursday on charges of involuntary manslaughter.

The films Director Randall Miller, was charged along with Jody Savin and Jay Serdish who own the production company that made the movie. 

Camera assistant Sara Jones died and seven other crew members were injured when a train unexpectedly came down a trestle in Wayne County as the crew was shooting a dream sequence on the tracks.

Jones' death brought strong reaction from filmmakers around the world. It sparked renewed calls for crew safety. 

Crew memvers are taking pledges to speak up when a director has them do something unsafe,

WTOC spoke to a local filmmaker who said it can be hard for those starting out in the industry, trying to make others speak up on set.

"You're hired on a contract basis. You don't want to be the person who questions authority to say 'hey, have we got permission to be on this track,'" Jarema said.

That's the issue at the heart of the indictment - whether filmmakers had the railroad's permission to shoot on the track.

Jarema said someone should've been stationed a mile from shooting to warn of an oncoming train.


Jarema has years of experience running shoots and said there are industry standards that should be followed.

"There are all sorts of printable publications, downloadable on your phone, to cover what you're supposed to do when you're working on a train," Jarema said. 

Shoots are high-pressure situations and that's why those standards are so important.

"There is no reason for the tragedy that happened," Jarema said. 

The accident sparking concerns about the future of filming in the Coastal Empire.

Jarema said there's an impression nationally that the de-centralization of filming, moving from Hollywood to states with film tax incentives like Georgia, is making shooting less safe.

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