Midnight Rider — the biopic film about legendary Allman Brothers singer Gregg Allman — has become a nightmare of a story.
When Midnight Rider was shooting in Wayne County, Georgia, second camera assistant Sarah Jones was struck and killed by a passing freight train. The story came out that the film crew had not obtained permission to shoot on the railroad trestle bridge where the accident occurred. Producer/director Randall Miller and other production staff were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass.
In the year since then, Randall Miller has fought the charges. He entered a plea of not guilty. He and co-Producer Jody Savin said in a statement:
“We have been in the television and movie business since 1990. We have produced and directed more than 10 features and television movies. We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind.”
But Randall Miller recently changed his plea. He pled guilty to to the charges and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. It is expected that he will serve only two years actually behind bars and the remaining eight on probation. During his probation time, he will not be permitted to work as a director or assistant director or other capacity involving employee safety.
As for the Midnight Rider film and Sarah Jones, the tragedy has led to a surge of concern for the safety of set crew on film shoots. One advance that was made was the funding and release of an app called Set safety for both Android and iOS platforms. That app and others are intended to address set safety concerns.
The name Midnight Rider is based on a song by the Allman Brothers. Gregg Allman has recorded and released it as a solo project as well.