Why Sarah Jones Deserves the Spotlight Over Paul Walker at Academy Awards

academy awards

Sarah Jones will merely be another name, if she gets mentioned at all, at the 86th Academy Awards. Simply put, that is a travesty. I did not know Sarah Jones and I unfortunately never will. The twenty-seven-year-old second camera assistant was tragically killed while working on location for the upcoming Greg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. Sarah’s death is yet another avoidable accident caused by a neglectful bottom-line mentality. Sarah Jones’ death deserves the spotlight that will be taken by Paul Walker and Phillip Seymour Hoffman at the 86th Academy Awards to inform the public of the horrendous conditions rampant throughout the industry.

On Feb. 20, the crew was set up on a trestle to get a shot for Midnight Rider when a train unexpectedly crossed the bridge. Sarah Jones was struck and killed instantly while seven other crew members were taken to a nearby hospital to treat their injuries. Early reports have suggested that the film did not have the proper authority for the set up and there are no formal laws requiring productions to place any kind of spotter for shots of this kind. However, there is currently a petition to create a new rule forcing productions to hire a spotter in addition to a representative from the train company to be present at all times. Dubbed “Sarah’s Law,” the petition is a small step forward for enforcing safety on set. There has also been a movement on sets across the globe to honor Sarah called “Slates For Sarah” with productions like Night At The Museum 3, How I Met Your Mother and Supernatural taking part. Productions have been labeling the film slate in memory of the young woman.

Most major film and television sets are run with the mentality that crew and cast safety is the number one concern and of the utmost importance, but on the ever-expanding independent side of things, cutting corners is just a part of getting the film finished. Ridiculously long work days and an absolute lack of any safety concern plagues nearly every set. Days on set begin at twelve hours and very rarely wrap on time. Crew will work a long fourteen to eighteen hour days then usually are given a turnaround of hopefully six hours, sometimes even less. Crews will be asked to do these daily turnarounds on very little to no sleep for weeks on end throughout the production. Crew will often be asked to work through their lunch and dinner in order to get everything planned for the typically overstuffed day accomplished.

I have many friends who make their living on “below-the-line” set work and know firsthand the limits to which these people are pushed. The conditions under which these crew members are worked would be consider illegal in every other industry. The conditions only exist as the ones in charge know that most of these people do it out of the pure love of the art form and has next-to-nothing to do with the paycheck.

I can say with confidence that Sarah Jones could have far too easily been any one of the number of people I know trying to make a career in the industry. There would not have been a moment of hesitation amongst them to set up on that train bridge as they would have been completely confident that the higher-ups in charge had only their safety in mind. Shining a spotlight on Sarah Jones’ death over the late Paul Walker at the Academy awards would only help people understand that these conditions should not be tolerated and need to be changed immediately. The truth is that outside the industry many simply do not care that Sarah Jones died, that her death was simply a tragic accident and nothing more.

I am not the first to speak of this tragic event. Many have done so and far better than I ever could, but this just cannot go away. Sarah Jones should be working today. There should have been a spotter and the proper authority present on set as there always should be. Safety should never be a budgetary issue. Accidents like this are completely avoidable. I have no intention of taking away any of the impact of Paul Walker’s or Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death as they are just as tragic in their own ways, but Sarah’s has the potential to change things. There may always be bottom-line producers but with Sarah’s Law in place, a tragedy like this may stay avoidable in the future. Sarah Jones’ name deserves to be as known as Paul Walker’s after the Academy awards, if only to prevent a tragedy like this from ever occurring again.

Opinion By Benjamin Murray


Video And Filmmaker

Sarah’s Law Petition

24 Responses to "Why Sarah Jones Deserves the Spotlight Over Paul Walker at Academy Awards"

  1. andrea   March 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Paul was a brilliant actor and he was a much loved man by his fans, family and friends. The charity work he did was outstanding. We lost a good man. I have to say that I am not aware of the lady in the article, and the work she did, I send my condolences to the family for their tragic loss. This article does single out Paul and that’s unfair, would the writer of this article have been so bold to say Hoffman shouldn’t have been remembered because of the way he died, no, because he won a Oscar? Walkers contribution to the film industry was valid. He was a solid actor and the film hours is a example of that. I for one feel as though we miss all the good things he did as he was “just a actor from fast and furious”, all of these people should be given the proper respect, and they will live on through their work and charities, R.I.P to you all.

  2. matt   March 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

    People seem to forget what Paul walker did for people, the tragic events around the world n also ill children he tryed to raise money to help out he wasn’t just a actor he was a human what gave a lot what most famous people don’t do walker was a great man? So why is there a competition between Paul n Sarah its stupid n disrespectful for both family at end of the day they both gone now n may they rest in peace

    • jake smith   March 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      i don’t believe the writer intended this article to be a competition maybe more of a recognition to all aspects of the film industry. At what point does the general public put the little guy first? Everyone in every company has the people on the front line who go un-noticed so maybe just once it would be great if an awards ceremony put the people making very little pay compared to actors a voice if something tragic happens on set. Health and safety rules should apply to everyone. Paul Walker died as a result of speeding vehicle, Sarah Jones died as a result of going to work. Both tragic but both people are from the film industry. Is it truly right to honour one and ignore the other?

      • Lisa O.   March 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        I think most of us agree that Sarah deserved to be honored, however, if the writer didn’t mean to make it a competition then he shouldn’t have mentioned (and singled out) Paul Walker at all. The title alone is offensive, “Why Sarah Jones Deserves the Spotlight Over Paul Walker at Academy Awards”. No one deserves the spotlight over anyone else in death. There were many others honored during the tribute, so why talk about Paul? Should we rate the cause of each death to determine who deserves what? That would be ridiculous. Does Philip Seymour Hoffman deserve less recognition because he was a heroin addict? Paul Walker died because of a tragic accident just like Sarah, does it make her death more tragic because it happened at work? My point is that she absolutely did deserve to be recognized but not more than Paul Walker, or anyone else. The writer was inconsiderate and ignorant in getting his point across.

  3. lybertie   March 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I’m really starting to think pre-teens write for this site. That’s the only explanation.

    • tired of boring people   March 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

      So why do you read it? Isn’t it wonderful to see different point of view on a variety of subjects even if you don’t agree with the writer? Isn’t that what makes for an interesting world? If we all agreed on each others thoughts we would not be individuals and how boring the world would be.

  4. Bo   March 4, 2014 at 3:35 am

    I don’t understand why you had to go make it into a competition? And why is Paul singled out? He isn’t the only one that was honored, there were at least 25 other people as well and a few hundreds more that didn’t make it to the televised tribute – were their lives any less important than Sarah? Why should her being honor had to take place over someone else being honored? Yes it’s important to honor her and all the petitions in her name should be recognized but what does that have to do with Paul? Why does he deserve less? Because he was just a celebrity? Because his death wasn’t of a safety issue on set? Why is it that they both can’t be honored together? Why does one have to take the spot of another? And why are you using deaths as a competition? Paul left a mark on the film industry and in the hearts and minds of many people he’s helped and inspired – he deserves to be honored just as Sarah should be honored too – and guess what, her name did appear in the telecast, they didn’t forget her or the hundreds of others who didn’t make the televised tribute – they were both good people who deserve to be honored and the fact that you used their deaths as some competition is disgusting

  5. JMS   March 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I agree that she should be included but to say that she should be included IN PLACE of other people is not right.

  6. Lisa O.   March 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Why does she deserve to be mentioned OVER Paul Walker???? And why did you mention him in your article and title anyway? Paul Walker deserves much more credit for his acting AND his humanitarian work so why did you bring him up at all? Why not just say that Sarah should have been honored also?

  7. Tess Jones   March 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    WOW! what a bunch of cruel people!!! I am discusses by your responses to this article! So he was an actor that people knew and Sarah was just hired help…but without the crew there is no film,no block busters and no Paul Walker!!! And furthermore how do any of you not know that Sarah did not do just as much good for people as Paul Walker….simply put none of you do! Stop being so cruel about the death of someone’s daughter,sister,grandchild. Get over yourselves!

    • BBP   March 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Well Paul walker was a celebrity and most Americans knew who he was. And he did a lot of charity work. Not to mention selfless acts of kindness, that he didn’t want to be recognised for. Which is unheard of in Hollywood. We only found out after his tragic accident. Because the recipients came forth to acknowledge his very kind and selfless heart. Sarah Jones was not a celebrity so only her friends and family knew her. So Thats the reason why she wasn’t acknowledged . I feel very bad for her and her loved ones. But they can’t just honor everybody that dies. I mean would you expect them to honor a security guard or any number of other jobs that help make a film if they died ? I do think that what happened to her was very tragic . But the point is that america didn’t know her. (REST IN PEACE Paul, and Sarah)

  8. JC   March 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Really? I’m sorry Sarah passed away so tragically (just like Paul) but to say that she deserves the spot over Paul is ridiculous! He’s not just an actor but also a philantrophist.

  9. Sam   March 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Boy, so many mean people. I’m afraid many of you misunderstood the commentary. I really don’t believe the discourse is about whose monetary contribution to Hollywood’s fat purse will more more missed, if that was the case Paul Walker wins. This article clearly outlines the issues that non-famous people face as they contribute, just as passionately as actors do, to the art form they dearly love. Clearly, an actor racing down a city road and crashing a car is not a sadder story than a crew member contributing to her craft and having it cost her life. There is a lesson here and many of you missed it, just as the writer suggested.

    • Lisa O   March 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      The point is that he should not have singled out Paul Walker in the article. Period.

  10. EC   March 3, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Further more, to say that Sarah deserved the spotlight over Paul would be an insane thing to say. His contributions to Hollywood adds up to a mountain load of cash. Brick Mansions is going to be another blockbuster.

  11. Jacky   March 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Yeah shut up hey. Don’t compare apples with oranges over who deserves to be remembered. Paul Walker was an incredible man who did amazing things to help those in need.

  12. EC   March 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Paul Walker has left a deep impact in Hollywood. He was not just an actor, he was a really down to earth nice guy. I feel bad for Sarah…as sad to say that she will be forgotten but Paul’s memory will live on forever.

  13. LeAnn   March 3, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Well they both got a spot look at that….one did not deserve it over the other. Paul Walker was a great man who did a lot of wonderful selfless things throughout his life. Not to mention ROWW.

  14. Jeanne   March 3, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Paul Walker’s movies turned in over $2B for Universal alone and that doesn’t even include the other movies. Plus he was a philanthropist who actually did the hard work not just throwing money. To say sarah jones deserved a spot is not outrageous, but to say she deserved it over Paul Walker, now that is above outrageous.

  15. Mia   March 3, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Her death was just as tragic as anyone else’s, however to say she deserves the spotlight more than Paul Walker is totally wrong

  16. Beth Scarberry   March 3, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Really paul walker was a great humanitarian! And a lot of peoples hero for YEARS!!

  17. Marie Martin   March 3, 2014 at 5:00 am

    The guardian writes the most idiotic crap I have ever read. EVERYTIME I see they have a story I read it to see how stupid it is

    • Lisa O.   March 3, 2014 at 6:46 pm


  18. noname   March 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Paul should be remembered,he was a humanitarian paul deserves the spotlight he did good for poor people and what did Sarah do i don’t know her I’m sorry she passed away so tragically.


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