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Netflix won't remove images of QC disaster from Bird Box

CBC News

Friday, January 18, 2019, 5:28 PM - Netflix says footage of the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster used to depict a fictional disaster in its popular movie Birdbox will not be removed, despite residents in the Quebec town saying it trivializes the tragedy.

Birdbox is the second production confirmed on the streaming site to have used to the dramatic footage, showing the aftermath of the train derailment and massive explosion that killed 47 people and devastated the community in 2013.

"It's the use of those specific images," said Marie-Claude Arguin, deputy city manager for Lac-Megantic in an interview with CBC's As It Happens.

"Unfortunately, they will be for us here forever ingrained in our mind and we can recognize them immediately and then they are being used as if they are happening somewhere else. That's where it's difficult to see."

Karine Dubé, a spokesperson, for the town of Lac-Mégantic said Netflix reached out to them and requested a meeting with the mayor on Thursday.

Another Netflix production, Travelers, also used the footage in a recent episode.

The production company behind that show, Peacock Alley Entertainment, has since apologized, saying in a statement it "had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013," and that it will try to replace the images.

A second Netflix original, Bird Box, appears to use footage from the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. (Netflix/CBC Montreal)


The images in Birdbox and Travelers were shot on a cellphone the night of the disaster and sold to Pond5, a stock footage company.

The company's CEO, Jason Teichman, said that while Pond5 can't police how all its footage is used, the company is now working to ensure its customers understand the context behind the images it sells.

"Something as sensitive as that and as tragic as that, we should have taken greater efforts to make sure that the true character of that story was represented, and we didn't live up to our own goals," he said in an interview.

"We could have done more."

Teichman says the Lac-Mégantic footage on Pond5 was submitted by one of the company's collaborators, but would not name the person for privacy reasons.

Pascal Marchand, who makes a living gathering and selling footage of news stories to other news organizations and production companies for use in movies and TV shows, saud it's common for such footage to be used for entertainment purposes.

"Let's say they need a car on fire, then you can hire a team of fireman production crew, sound guy buy a car set it on fire, but this costs so much money," he said.

"Or you can buy online a clip of a car that's burning for only $200."

At his home office in Montreal's West Island, Marchand has a fire department scanner and two computers filled with footage he's gathered or acquired from collaborators.

He said the Lac-Mégantic images in the Netflix shows were shot by one of his collaborators, and that the collaborator then sold it to the stock footage company.

This article was written for the CBC by Alison Northcott.


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