SAG-AFTRA’s offices in New York City were closed today due to the “blizzard conditions and inclement weather” that slammed the East Coast, but city officials didn’t think the “Bomb Cyclone” blasts of Arctic air and wind were bad enough to pull film permits – much to the dismay of some film and TV crews slipping and shivering there.
“There are still productions shooting today and several have rescheduled shoots inside,” a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Film Office told Deadline. Even so, production crews had to get to and from their jobs on icy roads and sidewalks.
IATSE, which represents behind-the-scenes workers there, happily tweeted: “The show must go on! Many thanks to all the dedicated members working tonight, despite the storm.” And despite the “state of emergency” declared by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
But at least one outraged crew member wants to know why the city and the union have allowed “the show to go on” at the risk of the crews’ safety and health.
“On one job, a prop fell and broke (someone’s) arm, and a locations person fell and got a concussion,” IATSE member Thomas Johnson Jr. posted on Facebook. “That’s on ONE job today in NYC. Because the Mayor’s office cares (more) about protecting the profits of the billionaire production company than they do our lives. There’s an actual State of Emergency declared here and they STILL didn’t pull the permits!”
“I called the IATSE safety hotline, left a message with someone there, and never got a response,” he wrote. “Not even an acknowledgement that they got my message. To be honest, I’m disgusted by their inaction. The International’s office is IN NEW YORK! They should be pro-actively getting permits pulled!”
“IATSE Twitter account can tweet “The show must go on” during a STATE OF EMERGENCY, but they can’t respond to my call to the safety hotline?!” he continued. “This is disgusting! Multiple IATSE members have been hospitalized slipping and falling on ice today, and yet whoever tweets on their account from a climate controlled office is bragging about us being out in this madness!”
Johnson also urged: “Everyone tweet (@MadeInNY) and Facebook tag Made in NY, Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting and ask them why a State of Emergency isn’t enough of a reason to pull film permits citywide. Ask them why the billionaire production companies losing money by cancelling a day of filming is more important than putting the lives of all film crew workers, and ALL New Yorkers at risk. By allowing us to film, they are creating UNNECESSARY hazards and forcing our emergency responders to deal with us and our trucks and our cars commuting and our equipment blocking sidewalks and our injuries from crew members falling that they have to deal with. There is NO excuse. Copy and paste this comment if you want to. Mayor Bill de Blasio, this is a disgrace. The NYPD and the FDNY and the EMS and the Sanitation department shouldn’t have to worry about film crews in their way or dealing with us getting hurt. DO THE RIGHT THING!”
His post was shared by Joyce M. Gilliard, who was seriously injured when Sarah Jones was killed on the set of Midnight Rider back in 2014. Gillard, who now runs iSAFE! TV & FiLM, an organization dedicated to promoting safety in the film and television industry, wrote on her Facebook account that “We are sharing this post from a member who has safety concerns about working in the hazardous conditions in the New York area. His voice is not being heard. Let’s help him by sharing this so that people are aware and change happens so that everyone can go home safely to their families.”
Gillard told Deadline that the industry “only seems to care about safety when there’s a major accident.”