The union representing Hollywood crew members has expressed dismay over plans by the producers of "Midnight Rider" to resume production of the film in Los Angeles, a few months after a train accident in Georgia killed a camera assistant.
Michael Miller, international vice president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, told colleagues in an email this week that Unclaimed Freight Productions, the Pasadena-based producer of "Midnight Rider," informed the union that it would resume production of the movie in L.A. in June.
"We have expressed our obvious concerns regarding this production starting again," Miller wrote. "We have demanded that they provide clearances from any and all governmental agencies and/or police agencies that are investigating this company and the individuals involved."
However, Miller said the union could not block the Gregg Allman biopic from resuming production in L.A. The film halted production in February following the Jones tragedy, which prompted nationwide calls to improve safety on film sets and sparked multiple ongoing investigations into the accident.
"The company did not ask for permission and was not granted permission to restart production," Miller said. "As uncomfortable as this is, we cannot prevent them from starting up again."
Unclaimed Freight is owned by Randall Miller, director of "Midnight Rider" and his wife, Jody Savin, who have declined to comment. "We're not talking to anybody yet," said Nadine Jolson, a spokeswoman for Unclaimed Freight.
In addition to a set medic, the company will be required to employ a safety officer referred by the union, Miller wrote. "The production has also been informed, in no uncertain terms, that the union presence on this production will be significant," he said.
In a separate newsletter to members, Steven Poster, president of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, wrote that the union has been working hard to increase safety awareness, sending business representatives across the country to visit sets, and working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to offer more safety training classes to members.
"While we're dismayed by Unclaimed Freight Productions' decision to resume production, we hope that you'll keep Sarah's legacy alive by doing what you can to promote safety on the set, whether it's wearing one of our stickers, or starting a conversation with your fellow crew members," Poster wrote.
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