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DGA on 'Midnight Rider' case: 'Much work to be done' on film set safety

DGA: "Still much work to be done" to improve film set safety after fatal 'Midnight Rider' accident

The Directors Guild of America said there is "still much work to be done" to improve safety on film sets in the wake of the accident that killed a 27-year-old camera assistant last year. 

The trade group's statement came Monday after movie director Randall Miller pleaded guilty in the involuntary manslaughter case concerning the death of Sarah Jones, who was killed in a train accident during the filming of the Gregg Allman biopic "Midnight Rider." 

The case has shined a spotlight on worries about set safety among "below the line" crew members in the film industry, and Jones' death has become a rallying point for Hollywood's production workers.

The DGA did not comment on Miller's guilty plea, but said the case has highlighted safety concerns. 

"In the year since Sarah Jones’ horrific death, the dialogue within the entertainment community about being vigilant on set and speaking up if something seems unsafe has certainly increased," the guild said in a statement.

But the guild added that more can be done to improve worker safety, for example, by expanding mandatory safety training to production workers outside California and extending safety practices of the major studios to independent productions.

Such measures would help ensure "that everybody who steps onto a set knows that they are operating under the same high standards of how to ensure on-set safety," the guild said. 

Jones was killed when a train crashed into the crew during a railroad scene for the Allman film. Several other crew members were injured.

Miller, the director of "Midnight Rider," was given a 10-year sentence, though he is expected to serve only two years in jail. The rest of the time will be a probationary period during which he cannot serve in any supervisory capacity on a film set. 

He will also be required to pay a fine of $20,000 and serve 360 hours of community service. 

As a result of the negotiated plea, charges against Jody Savin, Miller's wife and "Midnight Rider" producer, were dropped.  

"This tragic accident and its consequences must serve as an indelible reminder to everyone involved in film production that safety on set is of paramount importance," the guild said. "The DGA will continue to address these issues with the Employers, because no shot is worth the risk to anyone’s safety."

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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