Studio suspends production of 'Midnight Rider' - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Studio suspends production of 'Midnight Rider'

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Production of "Midnight Rider", the Gregg Allman biopic, is now suspended and the crew was released, according to Variety Magazine and confirmed by the Savannah Film Office.

On the same day as a memorial service in Columbia for 27-year-old Sarah Jones, there were new developments in the movie on which she was working when a horrible train crash in Wayne County claimed her life. Several other crew members were injured.

The official word from the Savannah Film Office came just after 6:00 p.m Wednesday. They said after a day of repeated attempts to get a hold of the movie producers, as rumors swirled, the movie was being suspended.

As of late Monday night, a permit was requested for filming next Monday and Tuesday in Chatham County by Unclaimed Freight. The request has not approved by the city and remains under review.

As this crash investigation continues, those who worked on another Unclaimed Freight production, the movie "CBGB", said unsafe practices are nothing new and the producers even admit that in their dvd extras for "CBGB."

"And these are cows. Those are actual cows running through a field," the voice of Randall Miller, director and producer at Unclaimed Freight, said on the DVD extra.

"And I am laying on the other end of the field laying under a blanket calling him," the voice of Jody Savin, Miller's wife and partner at Unclaimed Freight, said as a small boy ran through a field.

"I don't think it's dangerous at all to have a little kid running with cows, do you think? No. No," Miller said in the clip.

"That's pretty shocking that he would brazenly do that," Chip Lane, from Savannah's First City Films, told WTOC.

Lane and Angelique Chase run First City Films. We told them about the dvd extras from "CBGB", where Los Angeles based husband and wife team, Randall Miller and Jody Savin, producers of "Midnight Rider" and heads of Unclaimed Freight seem to admit to also ignoring permits while filming in a home in Savannah.

"This is a real staircase, and I don't think they knew we were going to drop a real piano down their staircase haha," Miller laughs on the DVD extra as a piano is dropped down an old historic home staircase.

"I'm saying it. Guerilla filmmaking, despite what has been said," Lane said.

Miller even refers to some shoots as guerilla filmmaking himself, an attitude Lane thinks could give Savannah talent and crew a bad name.

"This was not a Savannah film production. This was not a Savannah crew," Lane said about the "Midnight Rider" crew, which was on the train tracks in Wayne County last Thursday, under the direction of Miller and Savin, according to the incident report.

Two cameramen were from Savannah. Most others were from other cities.

The producers are working out Savannah based Meddin Studios, who also drew criticism in light of Thursday's tragic accident for a photo from their website from a previous production, showing a baby on railroad tracks with a young woman.

For Lane, the photo and DVD extras speak for themselves. They say stopping production now, and regrouping, may be best for all parties involved.

"It's a matter of trust, working with the company out of L.A., there is a lot of trust that has been lost, for obvious reasons," Lane said.

One deciding factor on the Midnight Rider film continuing, Lane said, likely hinged on whether people want to still work on it.

He said now that the film is suspended, the plug may be pulled on  the whole project permanently, or distributors may look for a new production team while legal matters are settled.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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