‘Longmire’ crew member issues public letter after Joe Tuck accident

Longmire-production-public-letter

Em Perry, one of the crew members from ‘Longmire’ has issued a public letter to the film industry about working hours, and her experiences following the tragic death of Joe Tuck.

Her passionate letter encourages other filmmakers and creative professionals to speak up about work conditions and she also praises Joe Tuck’s commitment and work ethic.

Open letter to my sisters and brothers in the industry

“Over the weekend we lost a Longmire brother when he fell asleep driving home after a long week of shooting. Ever since the Sarah Jones tragedy in February of this year, the issue of set safety has gotten my attention. I’m a “noob” to the industry, and Longmire S1 was my first gig. I have worked locations, and as a cast assistant.

I’ve read most every article and comment that has been written since February, and especially since Saturday. The one thing that stands out to me is the issue of hours worked and the correlation to set safety. I know that my opinion (which is getting harder for me to keep silent) could actually result in me never being hired on set again. If that’s how it has to be, then so be it…but someone has to keep the conversation going. When Sarah died, someone posited that she should have spoken up. As an industry rookie, I couldn’t help but relate to the possibility that she wouldn’t have spoken up about being put in a dangerous situation. Ask yourself honestly, how easy is it for most people—especially the young or inexperienced—to actually walk up to a producer or director and say, “No.”

We work long hours. The last week of a film I did last year I worked 102 hours. Let’s talk pay for folks like me. Yes, without the overtime, I would never be able to actually afford to work in film. But what about each and every weekend I spend trying to recuperate from the week before? Not to mention working into the dawn on Saturday, and having to go back to work at 5AM on Monday. I also know that if I’m not willing to work this way, there are (no exaggeration) five other people ready and willing to take my place.

I absolutely adore and appreciate that I was given such a wonderful opportunity to work on set. There’s nothing in the world like it. What discourages me is that I am too exhausted to actually enjoy it. And, shouldn’t doing what we love include enjoying our lives outside of work? Those who argue personal responsibility (don’t drive tired!), or they say they need the OT to live (more hours!), will hopefully step back and see that because of all that has happened this year, things could actually change for the better. We could all get raises (distribute those millions of dollars more evenly), we could all work hours that ensure that we are healthy and happy, and still have an awesome final product. Those we toil together with for weeks at a time could actually arrive home safely. Change can happen.

I love film. To me, it’s the ultimate art form. Lives can change because of it. But do crew members have to be the ones whose lives change because of injury or death? Please, let’s keep the conversation alive so that it evolves into change for the better. Just because something has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it still works. Joe Tuck drove home early Saturday morning, always doing what he’d always done. He was a kind soul and devoted to the work. His presence in basecamp will be sorely missed. I’m brokenhearted that change didn’t happen fast enough for him. Let’s stand together and hold one another up. Because we are all in this together.”

– Em Perry

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