Birthday boy Gregg Toland once said, “I want to work with someone who’s never made a movie. That’s the only way to learn anything–from someone who doesn’t know anything.” He would later work with first-time director Orson Welles on CITIZEN KANE (‘41), perfecting a technique known as deep-focus. In 2003, he was voted one of the ten most influential cinematographers of all time by the International Cinematographers Guild.
Sarah Elizabeth Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, was on the set of musician Gregg Allman’s biopic “Midnight Rider” when she was struck and killed by a freight train near Savannah, Georgia, on Thursday.
Her death rocked the local film community, leaving many questioning who was to blame for the accident. A group of friends set up a Facebook page on Monday in tribute to Jones with a simple call to action: “Sarah Elizabeth Jones, friend and family to so many, made every day awesome. Show your slate love here along with all the good stories of her life.”
Film crew members from various countries immediately began sharing photo tributes, holding clapboards with messages of remembrance for her. It’s become a movement with more than 800 images shared on the Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which was created on Monday. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 30,000 people had liked the page.
It’s a fitting tribute, as Jones’ primary job on set was to operate the slate at the beginning of each take. Jones, an Atlanta resident and member of the International Cinematographers Guild, used her “spunk and determination” to climb up in the industry, according to her obituary. The word about the tribute is spreading through her comrades, the behind-the-scenes workers in the industry.
Her friends and co-workers are also trying to do the near-impossible: They’re asking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to add Jones’ name to the In Memoriam list displayed during the Oscars this weekend. CNN has contacted the Academy for comment.
The Academy needs to do this. The stars are nowhere without the crafts.