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Savannah Business Journal

Mar. 3 - Allman film 'shutting down' indefinitely after train crash; possible criminal charges still looming

Category: Economic Development

Allman film 'shutting down' indefinitely after train crash; possible criminal charges still looming

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

March 3, 2014 – It is unfortunately official: filmmakers have shelved production on the movie about the life of Gregg Allman at least temporarily, and pulled all filming permits, following the death of a crew member in an accident involving a after a freight train during filming.  A young woman from Atlanta, working with the production company, was killed along; seven other crew members were injured.

The film, "Midnight Rider," was set to star Hollywood icon William Hurt as Allman who was born and raised in Macon. Filming had only begun a week before the crash. 

The film coming Unclaimed Freight, LLC. of Atlanta is owned by Randall Miller, who was the film’s director and Producer/Writer Jody Savin.  They permits for the film were taken out by a subsidiary LLC, Film Allman, LLC.  There is the possibility of both criminal and civil litigation due the accident, according to those close to the production.

The accident occurred on a trestle over the Altamaha River in Wayne County off Interstate 95.  According to the Associated Press in a Feb. 28 story, the Wayne County sheriff’s office has confirmed that the “film crew had permission to be on private property adjacent to the train tracks, but not on the tracks themselves.” That fact leaves open the possibility of criminal action.

Following the collision, producers requested a permit through the Savannah Film Office to film at a private home in the city next week, said William Hammargren, Savannah’s Interim Director of the City’s Film Office which was working closely with the Unclaimed Freight owners.

“They have pulled all permits on the project – it’s been halted, at least temporarily,” he said. “Officially, I don’t know for how long, but I have to assume it be for a long time, until legal matters are settled.”

Savannah’s Meddin Studios was a sub-contractor on the film, providing crew and equipment, but not overseeing production, according to sources.  

The Savannah Film office had run an ‘Open Call’ for sub-contractor Belle Casting, looking for actors on Feb. 15 and 16, which was held at Meddin Studios in Savannah, for people available from Feb. 24 through March 27.

The independent film was operating on a $2 - $3 million budget, Hammargren said was his understanding.

Miller began his directing career at the American Film Institute and has directed a number of TV series including for Thirtysomething, Northern Exposure, Popular, and Jack & Jill, and for feature films such as Class Act, Houseguest and The Sixth Man for Warners and Disney respectfully.  Jody Savin, is his wife, also a graduate of the American Film Institute, who has been nominated for three Emmy Awards.

Unclaimed Freight Productions, started in 1995, is an independent production and financing company in Pasadena, CA.  A number of the company’s films have been acquired by major motion picture studios after premiering at film festivals over the years.

Last year the team produced the film ‘Savannah’ starring Jim Caviezel, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jaimie Alexander, Bradley Whitford, Sam Shepard and Hal Holbrook.

Most recently Unclaimed Freight produced CBGB and has partnered with Brad Rosenberger, formerly SVP Warner Chappell Music Group, to co-produce a larger slate of music-centric films.  Unclaimed Freight also owns ‘The Drummer,’ the story of Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Caribou Records, the story of James Guercio’s legendary record studio, still slated for production.

President of Meddin Studios, Nick Gant, was not available for comment.

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