I’m working on a story about filming-set safety, and need your help

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Publicity Photo: AMC

I’m working on a story about movie/TV-set safety Georgia, after a number incidents that happened to coincide here recently and would like to hear from people who have spent time on filming sets and would be willing to talk about their experience. I’m at jbrett@ajc.com.

On July 12, stuntman John Bernecker, 33 was badly hurt on the Coweta County set of “The Walking Dead” and later succumbed to his injuries. His family donated his organs.

On July 14, a lawsuit stemming from an injury on the Conyers set of “Sleepy Hollow” alleged 20th Century Fox and other named defendants “failed to take reasonable, minimum safety precautions” and that as a result plaintiff Deborah Cottrill was hit by a truck. Cottrill’s leg and ankle were broken and her shoulder was injured, the suit says. She’s had multiple surgeries and procedures since the 2015 incident.

Then on Monday, a jury returned an $11.2 million verdict in the wrongful death case filed after crew member Sarah Jones, 27, died on the set of “Midnight Rider.” She’d been working on the movie “Midnight Rider.” The director served a year in jail.

In less serious occurrences, production temporarily halted on the Atlanta set of “Rampage,” when a stuntman was hurt, and “Avengers” star Jeremy Renner revealed on his Instagram page that he’d suffered injuries to his arm and wrist on the Atlanta set of “Tag.”

I’ve heard good and bad things regarding safety on area filming sets. Mostly good.

In 2011, I wrote about the east Cobb 15-month-olds who played babies in the Jason Bateman-Ryan Reynolds buddy comedy “The Change-Up.” The twins’ mom, Missy Bain, was thoroughly impressed with the production’s commitment to safety. Although Bateman’s character ineptly juggled the twins on camera, a special hidden harness kept them securely strapped in during the comic bits.

“They were so great about safety,” said Bain, who said she and her husband were on set whenever the kids were, closely monitoring things. “There were scenes in the bathtub and in the sink. They had us come test the water temperature. They thought of everything.”

Also that year, I watched as “Parental Guidance,” starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, filmed a scene in Piedmont Park featuring skateboarding pro Tony Hawk. Crews had constructed a professional half-pipe for the scene, which also involved young actors, and on-set safety monitors watched the kids like (pardon the pun) a hawk.

A bank heist scene in “Baby Driver” involved this tricked-out rig. AJC photo: Brant Sanderlin

More recently I watched Tom Holland film a scene for “Spider-Man: Homecoming” that involved him running down an alley while jostling out of his street clothes.

I watched as Anthony Mackie ran across a roof for a scene in “Captain America: Civil War,” and watched Ansel Elgort film what on camera looked to be a harrowing getaway after a bank robbery in “Baby Driver.” No issues.

The “Captain America” scened filmed in downtown Atlanta on a blazing hot day, where there was not a speck of shade.

A stunt double lived up to Captain America’s heroic rep by handout out water to extras. Photo: Jennifer Brett

Crews constantly told extras congregated for crowd scenes to seek respite in the shade off-set, and even had Chris Evans’ stunt double handing out water, to make sure everyone stayed properly hydrated.

But I’ve also heard, off the record, as people are hesitant about hindering their opportunities for future work, about sets where stunt people didn’t have the proper safety equipment, incidents where extras were asked to perform physically dangerous moves at no additional pay (or safety procedures) and unsafe practices like electrical wires placed near standing water.

“In most cases when something bad happens it’s not just one mistake,” said attorney Jeff Harris, whose firm represented Sarah Jones’ parents Elizabeth and Richard Jones, and filed the lawsuit on Cottrill’s behalf. “It’s a series of screw ups, a series of mistakes. A movie set is like a big factory, except in a factory you have the same people doing the same jobs. A movie set is like taking a big factory that has things going on that are dangerous and moving it around and then doing things that might be dangerous, like blowing stuff up.”

Given Georgia’s booming film industry, he added, “I’m surprised there aren’t more accidents.”