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While in Mexico, the film's American crew members were driven to and from their hotels, but local workers did not receive similar treatment. A Tijuana woman was severely injured in a crash after working until 3 a.m. as a script supervisor. And TIME has obtained a memo from construction coordinator Les Collins protesting to managers that local laborers, who were required to work 12-hour days, received only bread and milk during a morning break as their meal for the day. At one point, even that was cut back. "It is deplorable that we have witnessed our workers digging through the trash to retrieve fruit and other foods...to try to get something to eat," he wrote. "It's hard to believe that this company has stooped so low to reduce costs." Landau responds that Mexican workers were treated far better than the norm in that country.
For now, many crew members are focusing on improving overall industry conditions by curtailing hours. In a campaign prompted by Hershman's death, Haskell Wexler, a renowned cinematographer (One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest), is leading a petition drive to impose a 14-hour workday. "People are working as zombies," he says. Among those who have signed are Julia Roberts, Kenneth Branagh, Mike Nichols, Sally Field and Harold Ramis.
A prominent producer says many crew members will resist the rule because they enjoy earning overtime pay. But cameramen like Kirk Bloom, who worked on Titanic, want some kind of limit to the grind. "I'd rather have a little less work and a little more of a life," he says. Ed Gutentag, another Titanic veteran, is one of many crew members who say Hershman's death hit home because they have caught themselves dozing at the wheel. "I smack myself in the face as hard as I can to stay awake," Gutentag says. "But the big picture is, What value do we put on our lives? I don't want to die because I've worked too many hours."