The number of active movie and TV productions in the Los Angeles area continued to climb this week, with more producers and studios finding ways around the concurrent writers and actors strikes.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television (SAG-AFTRA) have been on strike since July 14th, as part of the bigger Hollywood strike sparked by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) beginning in early May. Both unions have demanded, among other things, better pay, a way for streaming services to be factored into residuals, the usage of artificial intelligence in the industry, and having a new minimum number of writers on a show or movie. The strike, which is the first for the WGA since 2007-2008, the first SAG/SAG-AFTRA strike since 2000, and the first combined strike since 1960, has already faced considerable heat from the press.
However, despite the largest work stoppage in Hollywood history since Ronald Reagan was the president of SAG, more and more productions have been finding ways around the strikes. Off the bat, many projects outside the U.S. have continued on, meaning that new content will continue to be made from Canada, the U.K. and other countries. Dozens of independent movies, outside of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the producers group of whom the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are currently on strike against, are also in full swing, with the unions and distributors both giving waivers to. While some striking actors have said that people working on these productions are ‘scabs’, others in the industry have said that they are vital.
“Alan,” a longtime grip in Los Angeles, told the Globe on Monday that “The strike affects way more than writers and actors. All the below the line people, all the post-production people, you know, we’re feeling the burn too. And look, a lot of us are blue collar or are spending nights making things happen. We’re building sets, making CGI art, catering these things. You know, it is a wide array of things, and we’re out of work too because of them. We didn’t want any part of this because if a production stops, we’re stopping. And we work on production to production.”
“These independent movies are important, because it means that at least some of us can still work. And all these other shows that are finding ways to continue without actors and writers are good too. Some people might see it as undermining the effort, but a lot of us are seeing this as them costing us work. They didn’t even think of all the people working on these projects and just focused on themselves. You aren’t hearing about it too much, but there is a ton of resentment there right now. Notice crew members aren’t striking in sympathy. It’s because there isn’t any there.”
While fall lineups and streaming lineups are beginning to show more and more reruns, reality shows, and game shows as a result of the strike, more productions have been announcing new ways around the strikes. On Monday, Jeopardy! announced that they will be moving forward this coming season by reusing old questions and bringing back prior contestants for as long as the strike continues, allowing the Country’s highest rated game show to continue with new episodes. More shows are also expected to install similar deals soon, meaning that more new content than expected is likely to come this fall.
“They’ll complain more for sure, but this way at least some down the line people still get to get a paycheck through all of this,” Alan said. “I just wished they remembered the little guy in all of this. Teachers strike, the kid gets hurt. Police strike, citizens get hurt. Actors strike, the working man on productions get hurt. There’s always someone getting hurt when one of these things happen.”
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