Documentary That Inspired 'SILO' Released for Free Viewing

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Grain accidents happen fast. But the rescue can take forever. (Image from "SILO")

The independent film group that created the feature-length movie "SILO" has announced it is rereleasing its 10-minute documentary "SILO: Edge of the Real World" beginning Friday, April 3, for free on Vimeo (

"Since our 'SILO' Community Screening Campaign is currently on hold, we have decided to rerelease the documentary that inspired us to make 'SILO' in the first place," said producer Samuel Goldberg.

"SILO" is a movie about grain entrapment. It is no Extension-style production. It is a well-done feature film that deals with two stories of time -- one where the viewer instinctively feels the death that is coming and the second a story played out in a normal, everyday farming community with all its joys and faults. Importantly, "SILO" shows how that town is about to change forever, and the viewer is there to see the calamity.

Goldberg is a New Yorker currently trying to avoid COVID-19 (He is doing well, he said). In just-past normal times, he has also become an evangelist preaching the horror of grain entrapments.

"The truth is ... when we started filming on Adam Fox's farm in 2016, we really didn't know where this film would take us," he said. "It led to a greater understanding of the risks in agriculture and helped inspire the feature film, 'SILO.'" It has been traveling the country since August 2019.

The film from Blood Orange Pictures is not showing in theaters to paying audiences. Instead, the investment in "SILO" is being recouped by way of a unique Community Screening Campaign.

"When folks can congregate once again, we'll do community screenings again," Goldberg said. "In the meantime, we wanted to rerelease this short documentary to get people thinking about safety during this critical time."

"[Grain] accidents happen so fast," said Catherine Rylatt, whose nephew, Alejandro Pacas, 19, died in a 2010 Mount Carroll, Illinois, grain accident. "But the rescues can take hours."

At Mount Carroll, it took nearly 300 rescuers six hours to free the sole survivor, Will Piper, 20, who was buried up to his neck, and hours more to recover the bodies of Pacas and 14-year-old Wyatt Whitebread.

As a result of that accident, Rylatt co-founded and is program director of the Grain Handling Safety Coalition in Springfield, Illinois ( The group has brought grain safety training to 4,900 people in 23 states.

"I'm concerned about this harvest," she said about 2019. "The grain came in fast and wet. This could be a bad time. Safety needs to be put at the top of the list."

"SILO: Edge of the Real World" re-appears after another deadly year for agriculture. Purdue University's Agricultural Confined Spaces unit, housed inside its Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, earlier in March released its 2019 confined spaces incident report (…).

The year claimed a high toll. One statistic was startling, in a way. Entrapments claim men. All victims in this report are male -- someone's son, husband or father. The report, by the numbers:

-- In 2019, there were 67 documented cases of confined spaces accidents. These include grain bin entrapments, of which there were 38 and 23 fatalities. Six confined space accidents involved two people or more.

-- There were eight falls into or from grain storage structures, five asphyxiations due to deficient oxygen levels or toxic environments and 11 equipment entanglements. Those involved in-floor and sweep augers, among other pieces of equipment.

-- Where an age was known (in 47 out of 67 victims), the oldest victim was 82 and the youngest 11. The average age was 48 years old.

-- The number of documented fatal cases (39) was higher than the number of non-fatal cases (28). This report suggests an underreporting of non-fatal incidents, where all but luck prevented a serious injury or fatality.

-- Grain entrapments accounted for 56.7% of all documented cases during 2019, a lower percentage than the historical average, likely reflecting more aggressive recent efforts to identify other types of agricultural confined-space-related incidents, including manure storage.

-- The total of 67 agricultural confined space cases represented a 9.8% increase from the number of cases documented in 2018.

-- The states with the most documented confined space cases of all types, including fatal and non-fatal, were Minnesota (13), Iowa (8), Nebraska (8), Wisconsin (7).

-- One stunning statistic jumped out toward the very end of the report. Historically, there have been more fatal mining incidents than ag-related deaths. In 2017, there were 28 fatal mining incidents and 23 fatal agricultural confined space incidents. In 2018, fatal incidents in mining (27) equaled fatal agricultural incidents (27). In 2019, agriculture took home the ribbon. The number of reported mining-related fatalities was 24. Ag-related fatalities were 39.

Dan Miller can be reached at



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