Midnight Rider (partially found unfinished biographical film based on band; 2013-2014)
The Allman Brothers Band was a rock band formed by brothers Gregg and Duane Allman in 1969. They have left behind an influence and are considered one of the pioneers of Southern rock music. They have had multiple break-ups and reunions, their final break-up being in 2014.
Around 2013, a film was planned based on the band that was named after their 1971 single "Midnight Rider."
In May 2013, Open Road Films announced that a biographic film based on the Allman Brothers Band was in production, and would be directed by Randall Miller. It would be based on Gregg Allman's biographic book My Cross To Bear. Gregg Allman and Michael Lehman (the band's manager) would be closely involved in the film's production.
The Train Accident
February 20th, 2014 was the first day of filming. The filming crew was taken to an unknown remote location to film a dream sequence where William Hurt would play Gregg Allman laying on a hospital bed on some railroad tracks, way above the Altamaha River in Georgia.
However, a train came around the corner the crew was filming at, giving them an extremely limited amount of time to get everything off the tracks. The only way out was in the direction of the train. The crew attempted to remove the equipment and metal bed, but the metal bed was not able to be removed in time, and the train crashed into it and completely shattered it.
Sharp pieces of shrapnel were sent flying toward the crew. A few crew members were injured, some seriously. Some fragments struck the camera assistant Sarah Jones, which threw her toward the still-moving train, resulting in her getting struck and killed. Randall Miller was nearly hit before he was pulled off the tracks by the still photographer.
Filming immediately stopped after the accident, and after it, the film got a lot of backlash. Multiple lawsuits were filed, such as a wrongful death lawsuit by Jones' parents against the railroad company that made the railroad Jones was killed on. A few of the crew members were also sued for manslaughter and trespassing (they were told by CSX before that they could not film on the railroad), including director Randall Miller and assistant director Hillary Schwartz. A movement was also created for Sarah Jones, titled "Safety for Sarah".
Despite all the controversy, Randall Miller still intended to resume filming, even with Film Allman LLC announcing the suspension of production on the film. William Hurt soon pulled out of the film, and Gregg Allman begged the producers and directors to stop production on the film to honor Sarah Jones. However, he was eventually forced to make a civil lawsuit against them to make them stop.
Not much has surfaced of Midnight Rider since the train accident (though the actual accident itself was filmed and unfortunately can be found quite easily).
The only surviving footage available online is the dream sequence, a portion of the script included in the video, and a "rock video" filmed the day before the accident, intended to be a bonus feature on the DVD.
This is most likely the only footage of Midnight Rider that will ever surface due to the controversy surrounding it, and the film will almost certainly remain unfinished for the same reason.
- A CBS article on the band's final performance. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- Announcement of the film's production. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- A Variety article on the film, where it was stated that Gregg Allman would be involved in the production. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- An article on the death of Sarah Jones. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- A CNN article on the lawsuit against CSX, the railroad company. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- A Variety article that talks about how CSX denied permission for the crew to film on the tracks. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- An article on the suit against Miller and Jay Sedrish (they pleaded not guilty). Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- A Deadline article on the lawsuit against Hillary Schwartz. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- Announcement of suspension of production on the film. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- Article on Randall Miller's plan to continue filming. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- The announcement of William Hurt quitting the film. Retrieved 28 Mar '19
- An article on Allman's lawsuit against the producers (and how they settled it out-of-court). Retrieved 28 Mar '19