BURBANK, Calif. — The 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of “Rust” and the ongoing legal battles have once again cast a spotlight on the critical issue of on-set safety. But for some, like Joyce Gilliard, the fight for safer sets has been a decade-long mission.

What You Need To Know

  • Joyce Gilliard was injured on the set of "Midnight Rider" in 2014

  • Ten years have passed since a train struck crew members, taking the life of Sarah Jones

  • There has been renewed conversation about on-set safety after the death on cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of "Rust"

  • In 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the motion picture safety bill  prompted by the "Rust" tragedy

Gilliard, founder of Industry Safety Awareness for Everyone, has been tirelessly advocating for safer working conditions in the film industry since 2016 after a harrowing experience on the set of “Midnight Rider” in 2014, where a train accident left Gilliard severely injured and took the life of fellow crew member Sarah Jones.

Gilliard, a hairstylist, was told she’d never work again due to her injuries, but despite the physical and emotional toll, she turned her pain into purpose, determined to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.

“During that time, when the doctors said I would never do hair, that’s when I said I needed to do something to promote awareness in the industry,” Gilliard said.

ISAFE, the nonprofit organization she founded, focuses on raising awareness through activities like panels, training sessions and advocacy campaigns. The mission is clear: to ensure that every individual working on a film or TV set returns home safely at the end of the day.

The loss of Sarah Jones on the same set deeply affected not only her family but also spurred her father, Richard Jones, to join the fight for safer sets.

“That feeling when you first hear that Sarah is dead, it will never go away,” said Jones. “And it’s always just one split second away.”

Determined to honor his daughter’s memory, Jones established the Sarah Jones Film Foundation to promote safety on set, frequently collaborating with Gilliard. Jones emphasizes the importance of learning from past tragedies to prevent future ones.

“Sarah’s death, Joyce’s injury, the death of Halyna Hutchins. All of this, hopefully, it’s given everyone on set a voice to speak up and say something,” he said.

Gilliard echoes the sentiment, emphasizing the importance of community and empowerment in ensuring on-set safety.

“This is our community. We are all in this together, and we are here to help each other to get through troubled times and always speak up. Always be safe. Work. Be safe. Go home,” she said.

In 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the motion picture safety bill, prompted by the “Rust” tragedy and establishing worker safety standards on motion picture productions, including mandatory guidelines around the use of firearms and ammunition on sets.