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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 728
Location: Tucson, Arizona
I am in total agreement, Bob. I have seen some of the same things that you have with regards to portrait photographers. Trains and such in a portrait are fine...in the background. Perhaps something that some enterprising railroad museum could do (in addition to promoting themselves as a venue for private events) might be to construct a diorama that could be hired out for use by professional photographers AND promote the message that railroads are private property and must not be entered upon without obtaining permission.

I (as well as many of you) have worked with professional movie production teams and I never had any bad experiences with the crews I worked with. The crews I worked with had a rail coordinator in addition to the film company staff. They acted as the liaison between the rail operations staff and the movie production staff. The production company understood the advantages of going to a site such as TVRM or Fillmore and Western-you pay big bucks but you have the facility to yourself and if you have something specific that you want, they will do anything they can for you as long as it can be done safely. You want a staged train wreck? If it can be done safely and you pay for it, you got it.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8356
Location: Baltimore, MD
One other factor that adds to this syndrome:

Major studio contracts with major production house. Major production house subcontracts with minor production house. (Or, conversely, TV cable channel contracts with minor production house.) Minor production house hires in independent producer locally. Independent hires local temps and stringers.

You think I'm kidding? I can honestly, if quite disingenuously, say I've done production work and video shooting for both the Disney Channel and the History Channel, thanks to this ridiculous layering of production work.

We would expect, for a want of a better way to phrase it, "Disney" or "Fox" to dedicate enough resources to a movie to not let this kind of thing happen. But once you're through the "seven degrees of separation" I just described, all bets are off.

Now, this is not, in and of itself, "evil." This is no different from, say, Union Pacific subcontracting to the Strasburg, who calls in a safety valve specialist, who needs to buy from a casting foundry. But this syndrome is going to make accountability a bit more difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
How else would you do it?


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 3:37 am
Posts: 124
I cringe every time I see some sort of publicity shot or film of people in the 4 foot, eg. some sad waif with a guitar slung over their shoulder, wandering down a railway line.
The idea of filming a 'dream shot" of someone in a bed anywhere near a line, let alone on a bridge, fills me with horror.
There are stupid people out there, some of who think "that's cool, I'll go and emulate them".
While it's terribly sad someone died, it's an abject lesson to all in the media about the stupidity of using railway lines as some sort of "lonesome" effect.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2080
This is why we have CG, you can do dangerous stunts totally safe, because its virtual.

Whatever happenned to the water barrels on trestles, would have been a safety spot while a train passes, in any case, long bridges need safety spots because of oddball circumstances like this. Like all our super tall skyscraper buildings, they need safe ways to get to the ground.

There may be all kinds of you this and you thats in this, but it may come down to finally an accident, however an avoidable one.

The film crew needed a railroad personnell with a radio so they had positive communications with everything for their shoots, it would have been easy to inform of an up coming train.
You could have just as easily had some trail blazer thinking he could just hip hop over the trestle and be fine.

There will be for sure some changes in railroad and film safety from this.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:32 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
It was reported that they tried to run to get off the bridge, but were hit by flying debris from the bed they had placed on the track as the train hit it. The woman that was killed was knocked onto the track by the flying debris from the bed.

It seems like there is quite a bit of this story that has not been revealed yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 728
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Many years ago, I had a close call while working as a conductor at TVRM. I was working the local train and we had just left East Chattanooga. The locomotive on the train that day was an unmodified RSD-1 with the cab end leading. This puts the engineer on the left side of the cab. As we were approaching the west end of the tunnel, I heard the whistle sound and then we stopped. I got on the radio and asked the engineer what was going on. She responded that I needed to come up to the head end and that there was a large group of people streaming out of the tunnel.

I got on the ground and walked up to the locomotive to speak with the engineer. She told me that approaching the tunnel, she whistled for the tunnel (standard grade crossing whistle) and stood up to look through the windows over the short hood to see if the tunnel was clear. The track approaching the tunnel from the west has a sharp right hand curve. Seeing that the tunnel was not clear, she made a maximum service application to stop the train. For those unfamiliar with the Alco RSD-1, the locomotive is a high hood locomotive with the tops of the hoods slightly lower than the top of the cab roof providing two very small windows above each hood.

Having gotten the engineer's statement, I went and identified the group leader, obtained his information and inquired as to what authority they had to be on the property. He told me that he had contacted the National Park Service at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and that someone there had given them permission to go to the tunnel. I informed him that there was no way that that could have happened as the tunnel is well outside the National Military Park grounds on Missionary Ridge. He then said that he had contacted someone in the railroad's business office for permission to bring the group on the property to visit the tunnel. I contacted the shop foreman's office, the ticket office and group reservation office. No one had had any contact with any group making such a request.

Having confirmed that the group had no authority to be where they were, I informed the group leader that they were trespassing on the railway. I informed him of how lucky he was that the engineer saw them and was able to stop before entering the tunnel. I then consulted my watch and informed him that he had five minutes to get everyone off the property and that if he failed to do so, he would be arrested and detained pending the arrival of the police.

The end result was that the group promptly got off of the right of way and a formal report made of the incident. The tunnel involved is 979 feet long, single track with no duck out areas. Had the locomotive not had the windows over the short high hood, the engineer would not have seen the people on the track until it was too late to stop short.

The bottom line is that no one should be on the right of way without proper authority and protection. Remember that the dynamic envelope is the space that counts-not the gauge. Plenty of folks have been killed that were not standing in the gauge but were in the dynamic envelope.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:06 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:42 pm
Posts: 34
Sadly enough, the production company will declare bankruptcy, and the tort-vultures will have nowhere to turn but deep-pockets CSX to assuage their greed.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 728
Location: Tucson, Arizona
I am in the legal field and I can hardly see the personal injury attorneys going after CSX. The fact that they refused access to the property pretty much indemnifies them-plus they have a good Legal Department.

What's more likely to happen is that the plaintiffs will go after any insurance that the production company has. The insurer (if the production company has insurance) will either pay out the claims/demand or go to court to attempt to reduce the amount of the claims. After paying out the claims, the insurer will then go after the insured party to recoup the amount of the claims.

If no insurance company is involved, then the plaintiffs will go after the officers of the studio as individuals and attempt to get settlements from them individually to cover the damages.

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:38 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 459
Dennis Storzek wrote:
As a forty something Dolly Grip who's been around the block a few times, I would have said, Hell no to being on that trestle on a live track without a rep or permission..."

Here's an article posted on the entertainment website of the Atlanta newspaper: AJC Accessatlanta - "Midnight Rider" crew had discussed train safety, colleague recalls. Several of the comments attached to the article suggest that the Atlanta film industry has a "non-union, wild west state of mind".... here is a cut-and-paste of one such comment:
Quote:
Posted by njsportsguy at 6:05 p.m. Feb. 25, 2014

This is why I left the Atlanta film industry in 1999 and moved north to NYC....more work, better pay, and certainly better union working conditions. Got my start working with Stratton Leopold, and I can assure you this, friends....Stratton wouldn't have allowed this to happen in the first place....where in the hell was the Line Producer or the Location Manager??? Why would shooting have begun without a proper permit? I remember working on "Return to Macon County" in the 70's and we had to get at lease 2 dozen permits before we were allowed to set foot on either a state highway or the CSX line in Forsyth. Those of you in the industry who are established, you know what really happened...this comment is not against you because you, like me, are out there slugging along trying to make a living in a non-union, wild west state of mind. Old timers with "Heat of the Night" remember the bullkkkkrap that went on during shooting...the cut corners...the CYA'ing we had to do, especially dealing with all of the drug activity around the set, the drama with Hugh O'C, and the death of the free-lance costumer, which hadn't been solved when I left ATL in 1999. I am sure things will not get better when Pinewood opens up next year.....My advice to the crew involved....CYA and seek legal advice...you're going to need it now...and call friends outside the market for work!

and another:

Quote:
Posted by Wesleyhodgesac at 1:43 a.m. Feb. 26, 2014
This interview with Tony Summerlin is infuriating!

As a 1st camera assistant in NYC, I could not quietly sit by and say nothing.

I personally did not have the honor of meeting or working with Sarah, but from
all of the amazing accounts online, many of you were blessed to have. My deepest
sympathies go out to her family and friends.

For the life of me, I can not believe that nobody said no to working on an
active railroad trestle. Especially after watching two freight trains roll by at
full speed, only minutes apart. A safety meeting where you are told that "more
trains might come through" should have waved red flags all over the place! That
is neither a safety meeting nor an escape plan. Where were the location people
who did not get permission to shoot on the tracks? Where was the set medic? And
why would you place props on an active trestle? Seeing how little time,
approximately one minute, to get off the trestle is irresponsible. And to be
running with 30-70lbs of camera gear is a recipe for disaster! ALL OF THE
EQUIPMENT IS INSURED, YOUR LIVES ARE NOT REPLACEABLE!

Had just one person at the location said NO to this production company STEALING
a shot in "Preproduction," this tragedy could have been prevented. I have said
no to stealing shots that were not permitted and I was not fired. I have raised
questions after "real" safety meetings if things were not clear. But as a 1st
camera assistant, it is part of my responsibility to ensure that we are working
safely!

I believe the Producers acted extremely irresponsibly and I sincerely hope they
do not get plea deals and face jail time for their malice. I know this will not
bring back the smiling face I see in all of the pictures posted of Sarah, but I
sincerely hope I never have to read about another colleague passing in such a
horrible way.

All my love to the Jones Family and to all of those injured,

Wesley Hodges

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Chris Webster
Personal Website Last Updated in 1996


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:13 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
I'm not blaming the entire industry. When I say "everyone" I mean who ever was on the ground that day.

An unsafe act is an unsafe act. Anyone there had the right to speak up and say something.

Why? You can bet that everyone, or almost, proceeded on their jobs on the belief that someone else had completed the permit work properly. And that is something everybody does in business all the time.

It's rare that you can hold everyone accountable for a situation, because that requires everyone to actually know the score. You can bet that if people knew the permits had been botched, the crews would have refused to work.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:05 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:12 am
Posts: 464
Location: Somewhere off the coast of New England
What may be the most succinct comment which I have heard yet comes from a Savannah-area attorney of my acquaintance (who admits that his working knowledge of railroading is the occasional trip on Amtrak) - that even before sorting out licenses, access permits and who should have done whatever and probably did not, that filming on an active rail line is "mind numbingly stupid".
GME


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:20 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2080
filming like this requires stronger communications and planning between all parties.

somehow I see a motion picture made from this craziness...about this tragedy not the dream sequence filming...


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:03 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
This story has received the strangest news coverage. I sensed a distinct reluctance to report that the accident was the fault of the filming company. In the beginning, it was reported by various news media that the filming company had permission from CSX, and it was also reported that they did not have such permission.

This distinction was also blurred by the report that they had permission to film in “that area,” and that CSX had been informed. It was reported that CSX granted permission to film “in that general area,” but the report did not clarify whether “that general area” was CSX property, or whether “that general area” included the railroad bridge. If it was not CSX property, the information raised the question of why CSX needed to grant permission for the film company to be on someone else’s property.

Then it was reported that CSX gave the filming company permission to be on the bridge, but warned them to wait for two trains that would pass shortly. And CSX told them that there might also be a third train, but it will blow the horn, so they should have time to get out of its way. This was apparently told to the news media by the filming company, and yet no media reported on how this information was supposedly conveyed by CSX to the filming company.

The immediate nature of the warning about the two or three trains would have had to have been conveyed only a short time prior to the filming on the bridge. If it had been conveyed by CSX, it sounds like it would have had to have come from either a CSX employee on the ground or a phone call to CSX. Certainly it would not have been a stipulation of a formal and official grant of permission, which would probably have been in writing.

When the president of the filming company was asked for clarification about permission, he said it was complicated, and apparently the news media saw no reason to ask what he meant by “complicated,” or any reason to ask for further clarification. At one point, it was reported that the president of the filming company urged us to all move on and stop being so focused on blaming somebody for the accident. To me, that was the most insightful piece of news reporting of all, but the news media reporting it saw no significance to it whatsoever, other than to agree that it is unseemly to worry about blaming someone in the midst of a tragedy.

This report of CSX granting permission to be on the bridge with the warning about the two or three trains remains completely unexplored by the news media, and yet it is the elephant in the room. Apparently the media has taken the filming company president’s advice and moved on. Now the incident is being called simply an accident without any sense of negligence or blame attached to it.


Last edited by Ron Travis on Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:29 am
Posts: 212
Something else to remember here is that many people are not particularly "forceful" when it comes to questioning orders from managers and supervisors. This is especially true when they need the money to get by, or are trying to build a reputation as a "reliable" can do kind of worker/ employee.
This coupled with management who are strong willed, loud, or just plain obnoxious, leads to a willingness to do things that common sense says is a very bad idea......obviously it gets even worse or more dangerous when they've gotten away with such behaviour for awhile....


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