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Both the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been on strike since July 14, representing 160,000 actors and 11,500 writers in contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Additionally, some Hollywood studios and production companies have been affected by the strike, with job walk-offs starting on May 2.
Moreover, with no apparent conclusion in sight, the production of television shows and movies has come to a complete stop as a consequence. While the AMPTP and the WGA have resumed their discussions, the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA haven’t even initiated such conversations.
The estimated economy of California, which already costs $3 billion, is being struck. It was pointed out to me by someone that you can shoot it like a “cannon” at some restaurants in LA. Additionally, this has significant ramifications not only for actors and writers, but also for the businesses and workers of thousands of lifeblood industries in entertainment, such as stores, cleaners, drivers, makers, prop hairdressers, caterers, assistants, production staff, and directors. It is generally agreed upon that this is going to drag on.
According to an anonymous industry executive who spoke with Vox, there is a noticeable decline in the industry. This decline is not limited to Hollywood but is also being felt in New York and London. The executive describes this decline as a state of uncertainty where nobody has a clear understanding of what is happening. As a result, everyone is in a state of limbo, trying to work but facing difficulties. Additionally, the executive highlights the negative impact on the secondary support industry, which is being severely affected.
Pleticha expresses, “However, in the immediate future, it’s ‘acceptable,’ isn’t it?”. “I’m afraid that once it concludes, I will be genuinely screwed,” Pleticha remarks. “I am uncertain about its duration. It’s an unpleasant circumstance.”
Authors and performers are not having a fantastic time here
But its members are not part of the strike mentioned in this article, nor are they involved in the contract discussions with AMPTP. And they’re annoyed by them. They’ve observed the reports that AMPTP is expecting them to “suffer greatly” and “face the risk of losing their apartments and homes,”. Nonetheless, individuals remain dedicated to the cause. Additionally, it’s scorching while standing on the picket lines. The uncertainty about the future is anxiety-inducing. From a financial perspective, it has brought about hardships. The entire ordeal has been challenging, in both significant and minor ways. Numerous writers and actors who support the strike readily acknowledge that they would prefer not to be dealing with this situation.
Nicole Conlan, who relocated to New York at the beginning of the year to work at The Daily Show, expresses, “Individuals are exhausted from being on strike but are unwavering in their requests. Not a single one of us desires to be out there, however, not a single one of us desires to surrender either.”
It’ll be over, nothing else matters, if one person puts their career on hold and everyone’s jobs are taken over by artificial intelligence, hey, that’s increasingly untrue among other issues. Thanks to the prevalence of streaming, which has meant less pay for writers and shorter seasons, the adoption of smaller “mini rooms” and the scenes behind them, you could really build a career when it comes to writing. Actors are used to picking up side jobs to stay afloat. Some begrudgingly say that the current stormy weather has actually made them better, which is often the case in the unstable world of acting and writing. The scenario of a lot of people going on strike is an interruption to their careers.
Luke Slattery, an actor based in New York, jokes that he has held down a side hustle in a variety of jobs over the years, including briefly working as a tour bus guide and building sets. He finally felt like he was taking off his actor belt when he landed a role in an upcoming film on the horizon and a recurring role on a TV series, after the dual strike of the Covid pandemic and the fashion industry crisis crippled the industry.
He states, “You cannot refill your bank account, but you can restore your hope by attending the protest and being reassured that you are not isolated.” Additionally, he ponders about the time when he will have to acquire another job at a restaurant. He questions whether the film he is a part of will still be released on Christmas Day, and whether the strike will be lifted so that he can participate in its promotion. Slattery is currently searching for additional sources of income, and in the interim, he is engaged in motion capture for video games and undertaking some voiceover tasks, which are still permitted.
However, unity does not assist in covering the rental expenses.
His writing position remains intact, once the strike concludes presumably, particularly if he can effortlessly return to his previous employer and request the reinstatement of his job. “I never really anticipated that the transition would occur immediately after my departure,” he expresses. “A part of the reason why I held a job for an extended period was to navigate through unproductive phases when I actually made the transition.” They resigned, relocated to LA, and subsequently served as full-time, fully employed writers for a few weeks before the onset of the WGA strike. The timing of the strikes for Aditya Joshi, also residing in New York, appears to be a cruel jest from the cosmos.
(Protesting workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits in California; however, they are eligible in New York.) That should provide assistance, as he recently received approval for unemployment insurance. Whenever there is a settlement, he strives to prepare necessary materials and takes on additional jobs sporadically, relying on his savings. Currently, he has returned to New York.
Disturbance is always unsettling. Disturbance without a clear conclusion even more so.
He says, “I wish I wasn’t in debt again, but they are a great union and I love my union a lot. Finally, he finished paying off his student loans a year ago and he’s thrilled that he’s now taken out a pair of interest-free loans from the WGA. He knows that soon he’ll be faced with paying them back, which doesn’t help his current situation. Another LA-based striker who has been a staff writer on a streaming show for the past two years says, “It’s scary.” On the other side, she thinks that there will be a show for her to work on, but she had to ask her parents for money. The strike happened and it felt like hell for years. One Los Angeles writer sold her very first pilot earlier this year.”
For others in Hollywood, it’s strange to be on the losing end of a battle they can’t truly prevail in.
For others, it is the opportunity to return to their jobs. The objective for writers and actors is to potentially secure a more favorable agreement. There are individuals and businesses for whom the immediate consequences hold significant importance and tangible significance, while others are uncertain about the long-term implications. Numerous employees, ranging from costume designers and stylists to agents and support staff, have been laid off. The strikes are causing California to incur billions of dollars in losses, and they are also negatively affecting the economies of locations like New York and Georgia. It is easy for the general public to underestimate the extent to which these disagreements between writers, actors, and studios are impacting a large number of individuals.
The work has actually been slow for eight months since the writers went on strike. Instead of three months, many people were anticipating these labor stoppages to continue because the end of the streaming boom is near.
Zack Auron, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), who works as a union electrician, has stated that jobs in the electric union and non-union sectors have dwindled since the pandemic started. He notes that qualifying for health benefits depends on the number of hours worked during a certain period. To keep jobs in mind, union members are encouraged to attend union meetings. Now, Zack sees that union members are competing for non-union jobs, such as narrative and documentary shorts, commercials, music videos, and corporate gigs, as they often pay less and don’t provide health insurance. He acknowledges that these jobs can help cover rent but are insufficient in terms of health coverage. He also mentions that he knows other people who have completely shifted outside the film industry to make ends meet.
It’s a question of how long they can hold out. Once the dust settles, people have a desire to be able to come back. Presumably, people make long-term investments in their careers and businesses as they develop expertise and know-how. One thing that is true in any industry, including the film and TV industry, is that it’s not easy to just pick up and do something new.
She states that the value of your image and the values of AI are real human values that are being negotiated around the time. Although she may be hopeful that something will come through the county or city, there doesn’t appear to be any immediate help on the way. The government stepped up and provided loans for small businesses, which made a difference economically during this pandemic-like situation. Normally, this quarter is when her business sees a decline, but she has had to lay off some people. She warned her staff at the start of the year to prepare for something, and now she has to batten down the hatches. Pam Elyea, the vice president of Hire History, a prop shop based in LA, has been in the business for 40 years.
She hopes that all her fellow artists will come together and refuse to accept lower rates. They are always looking for ways to cut costs because corporate greed is insane. She notes that cutting rates is a result of the post-Covid situation, and many people are concerned about what will happen after the strike. Even if they are apprehensive about what comes next, she says that 1,000 percent of her fellow artists are supportive of the strike because they have no protections in place. The studios are cutting our rates, which is why we are cutting ties with them.
I spoke with non-actors and non-writers who expressed their support for this story through the strikes. SAG-AFTRA and WGA know the stakes and recognize that they are coming. They know that they could also get what they wanted from the studios and AMPTP, or find themselves on the other side of the formal table.
However, many recognized that it is not always simple.
“It’s a blend of opinions among individuals when they become aware of your presence in the DGA,” she remarks, although she acknowledges that the individuals who noticed her membership on the sign-in sheet that day were very pleasant. One assistant director and DGA member, who requested anonymity, mentioned that she made sure not to display any attire indicating her union affiliation when she participated in a recent picket line. The Directors Guild of America (DGA), the organization representing directors, reached a June agreement with the studios that has caused both internal and external concern regarding the decision to accept the deal.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reached a three-year agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents workers behind the scenes. This agreement narrowly averted a strike in 2021. It’s important to consider that below-the-line crew members like those in IATSE may not be able to recover from the impact, while you might be able to. It’s crucial to acknowledge that this situation is affecting others. “However, at the same time, it’s important to advocate for what you deserve and what you can attain,” she suggests. “Without a doubt, the incident on social media, particularly when a well-established writer boasted about their tactics, was quite distressing, and it’s crucial to note that the production did not violate the rules set by the Writers Guild of America (WGA),” she insists. The strike led by the writers disrupted and halted the filming of the show she was trying to complete in May.
This seems like a “recall who the true adversary is” scenario.
Showing support and appreciation for others is important. It is a worthwhile and enduring gesture that may not be easy right now, but it seems to be a consensus among many workers in the film and TV industry.
LA-based writer Matt Kellard stated, “The fate of their negotiations will determine the outcome of this strike, which directly impacts most people and severely hurts even the common folks. It is crucial to understand the significance of this situation in Hollywood, where unity is key. This is unlike any previous strikes, as it represents an unprecedented level of support from the unions.”
For those who are truly struggling financially, there are options available to support them. SAG-AFTRA and WGA have financial assistance programs in place for their members who are in need. Additionally, there is the Community Entertainment Fund, an organization that has been providing human services to everyone working in the entertainment and performing arts industry since 1882. This fund offers emergency grants ranging between $1,500 and $3,000 to help people meet their basic needs.
The support programs of other organizations have witnessed a significant increase in usage. In the recent weeks, they have been averaging $500,000, with the amount shooting up to $700,000. She mentions that they would provide between $75,000 to $50,000 in emergency financial assistance in a week, with an average of one week being the norm. Barbara Davis, the Chief Operating Officer for the Community Entertainment Fund, says that the fund has been overwhelmed with requests.
Davis says, “Our biggest challenge is to raise funds in order to continue. We have had wonderful support from people in the industry, particularly those who care about us, but we need to sustain our ongoing efforts.”
The Community Entertainment Fund is aimed at people who are in dire moments, particularly those who are not getting helpful support from them. It’s a tough part about being there for them in their most challenging times.
It is important to remember that despite the excited headlines, the declining power of unions is currently exemplified by the matter of why they are being put on display by the outfits. Walking out of a job has real emotional and financial costs for those who walk away and those who end up as collateral damage. Strikes and the realities of labor rights are even harder and more complicated at the same time. It feels exhilarating to see people on the picket lines, to hear moving speeches from big-name actors, and to see kitschy signs. It is supposed to be a summer of celebrating strikes, where workers are trying to stand up for their rights and applauding their efforts feels exciting in certain circles.
It’s a scorching day on the picket lines, once again. The pie studio is actually shrinking, and one person wonders anxiously about another award season. The assistant director thinks it’s early to plan for 2024, but she’s confident that she’ll be able to secure agreements. However, she doesn’t want to force the studios to make a decision if it’s not the most likely scenario. The writer frets about whether the studios will just reach a long-awaited agreement. One writer wants to make TV shows and movies, but she’s anxious and excited, insecure but determined. Hollywood is in a collective state of mixed emotions.
Conlan, a writer for The Daily Show, suggests, “The studios could put an end to this situation in a day.” “You possess the funds to make it occur instantly,” it’s as if, well, the studios consistently emphasize that individuals simply desire to resume their work, and, and it’s similar to that.