Last week it became apparent to several Canadian viewers that the stock footage being used in some Netflix films was actually from a recent Quebec tragedy in which a derailed cargo train killed 47 people.
Despite many people speaking out about the footage, including the mayor of Lac-Mégantic, the town where the event occurred, Netflix has decided to not do anything about it.
TL;DR Despite pleas from Lac-Mégantic locals, Netflix will not remove the footage of the 2013 train accident from their original films or television series. A Netflix spokesperson is scheduled to speak with the mayor of Lac-Mégantic about the issue today.
If there is anyone who thinks that it is ok because a stock footage company has the rights to it, imagine a fictional show or movie needing video of a random building being demolished and deciding that the World Trade Center on 9/11 is perfect. #Netflix #birdbox #lacmégantic— Barbara M (@chckndnce) January 17, 2019
According to the CBC, Netflix has reached out to the mayor of the town to sit down today and discuss the use of the footage in at least two confirmed Netflix originals.
So far, the footage has been noticed in the Netflix original film Bird Box as well as the series Travelers. In both cases, the footage is used as a piece of background news broadcast within the productions.
However, many claim that the use of the real-life footage within the fictional narratives manages to trivialize and sensationalize the tragedy at the same time.
Family members who lost loved ones in the disaster are forced to face the horrors again, while viewers who don't know any better are left to just assume the footage is some fake fire or CGI creation.
The tragedy occurred when the brake system of a train failed, allowing the train to roll downhill into the town and derail. The collision caused an explosion and an enormous fire as the train had been carrying crude oil.
How does a company as wealthy as #Netflix produce a movie like #BirdBox without checking where they got stock footage from? Using the #LacMegantic train crash footage where 47 people died in a movie is simply wrong & distasteful— ❄️🎄Nurse Bee, RN 🤶🏻☃️ (@fitnursebee) January 17, 2019
The explosion and subsequent fire caused 47 deaths and destroyed nearly half the downtown area, including 30 buildings.
The production company that produced and likely edited the film for Netflix, Peacock Alley Entertainment, has since apologized for the turn of events.
While they apparently have no intention of removing the video clips outright from the films, they have said they will try to replace them if they can.
This would mean finding similar footage while simultaneously attempting to ensure the clips aren't from another fatal incident.
My heart goes out to residents of Lac Megantic who were once more victimised with images of the fire that killed 47 of their residents being used by Netflix's series and movie.— LeeAnn Lessard (@LeeAnn_Lessard) January 17, 2019
The stock footage company that supplied Netflix with the footage, Pond5, acquired the cellphone videos from an anonymous collaborator.
They have since admitted they should do better to inform clients and customers of the true nature of filmed events in order to avoid issues like this in the future.
No word on if they've removed the footage from their database or if they will cease selling it, though.
Meanwhile, Peacock Alley Entertainment has responded by exlaining that, "as the Canadian producers of Travelers, we acquired this footage from stock footage vendor Pond 5 and weren’t aware of its specific source. We sincerely apologize and had no intention to dishonor the tragic events of 2013. We will be replacing the footage in the show."