The guilty plea entered Monday by a film director for the on-set death of an assistant camera operator on a Georgia film set should be a reminder for everyone involved in movie-making that safety is a top priority, according to the Los Angeles-based Directors Guild of America.

Director Randall Miller pleaded guilty in Georgia to involuntary manslaughter for the Feb. 20, 2014, death of Sarah Jones on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a film about rock star Gregg Allman. Miller was sentenced to two years in jail, followed by eight years probation.

Jones, 27, was struck by a train while the crew was preparing to shoot a dream-sequence scene.

“This tragic accident and its consequences must serve as an indelible remainder to everyone involved in film production that safety on set is of paramount importance,” according to a statement from the DGA. “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, and organizations including the DGA have reiterated the availability of 24/7 safety hotlines to report concerns.”

The guild noted, however, that more work needs to be done to define responsibilities for safety and to expand safety training not only for employees of major studios, but for independent production houses, “so 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 DGA will continue to address these issues with the employers, because no shot is worth the risk to anyone’s safety,” according to the guild.

The case against Miller was the most serious of its type since director John Landis and four other people were charged with involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two children, who were killed when a helicopter crashed on the set of “Twilight Zone” in 1982. Landis and the others were ultimately acquitted.

City News Service

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