As many of you know a 2nd AC was killed on a set yesterday while shooting on a train track. She was struck and killed and 7 others were injured. There are a lot of questions of course and will be for some time. I'm pasting a post i put on Facebook to share because as ops and people higher in the pecking order, I think it's incumbent on all of us to let our crew know that we will go to bat for them should they feel the need to speak up but not want to make waves. Our position carries responsibility with it and one of those responsibilities is to look out for those in our crew who we know would never complain and just want to hump all day making us look even better.
I didn’t know you but learned today that you were a “sister” of mine, a 2nd AC in Local 600, that you were working on a film set yesterday and that now you are no longer with us as a result. I am so sorry that your life was cut short for something as trivial as moviemaking and so sorry that no one spoke up to say “this isn’t safe” before a train came down the tracks you were shooting on killing you and injuring seven others. I don’t really know much about the situation or what actually happened, but I am sure that you were doing your job, performing your functions professionally, secure in the knowledge that since others were doing it, things must be safe. I don’t know if you were concerned, if there was a safety meeting, if you asked and someone said, “yeah it’ll be fine” or, if like so often happens, you were moving so fast to help your team get “the shot” that you didn’t take the time to consider what was being asked of you. I don’t know a lot of things.
But I do know this Sarah. No one had your back. If they did, you’d still be here today. The Director should have said no. The AD should have said no. The DP should have said no. Production should have said no. Your operator should have said no. I don’t know if any of these things happened, but I do know that you were out on those tracks and that means someone didn’t step up enough. You were doing what was asked of you and for that reason, you are gone.
And I am so sorry because a 2nd AC shouldn’t be the one to make the call that something is unsafe. A 2nd AC, or anyone for that matter, should not have been out on those tracks. A 2nd AC should not have died yesterday. No one should have.
I don’t know what will change as a result of your death but I do know this. From here on forward, I pledge as an A Camera/Steadicam operator, and one of the senior members of my department, that I will contact every member of my department before we start shooting any job to let them know that I have their backs. I am going to explain that I need them to speak up about unsafe conditions on set and that if they don’t feel comfortable speaking out because of their position, that I will gladly speak to production on behalf of all of us. I am going to tell my union brothers and sisters that we work way too fast, way too long, and way too hard and that I need them to watch my back just as much as I need to watch theirs. I need them to speak up on my behalf because I’m often after that elusive “shot” and can sometimes forget. I need them to protect me and I need to protect them. I am in a position where part of my job is to speak up and I need to take that responsibility seriously. Because no one should ever die on a movie set.
I’m sorry Sarah. We failed you. This won’t help you and I pray that you are resting in peace today, although that is of little comfort to those you were forced to leave behind. Perhaps at least something good can come from this and moving forward I pray that yours is the last death we read about on the set of any production.
Signed – a brother