The Backstage Centre, as with many other studios, has felt the impact of the Actors and Writers strikes in the United States of America. Unions and bosses are expected to resume talks today.
Are Hollywood studios making progress in ending actors’ strikes?
According to the New York Times, Hollywood is seeing some glimmers of hope as negotiations to end the 108-day actors’ strike seem to be making headway. Although some issues, such as the use of artificial intelligence to create digital replicas of actors without consent, remain unresolved, progress is being made.
The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), representing the actors, had initially sought an 11 per cent raise for minimum pay in the first year of a contract. Studios made a 5 per cent offer, similar to what other unions for writers and directors had accepted. However, studios increased their offer to 7 per cent, and SAG-AFTRA adjusted its demand to 9 per cent.
While negotiations continue, the looming deadline adds pressure to reach a deal. Studio executives have made it clear that a resolution must be achieved by the end of the week, or the strike could extend into January, affecting both casts and crews.
The entertainment industry has suffered for months due to strikes by writers and actors, with the writers’ strike being resolved last month. Talks between actors and studios were briefly halted over a dispute regarding streaming services’ subscriber fees. The resolution of this issue remains uncertain.
The strike has not only affected actors but also crew members, with losses estimated at over $1.4 billion in wages. On the studio side, there is pressure to salvage spring television schedules and movie lineups, leading to delays in film releases.
While the path to resolution remains unclear, there is cautious optimism in Hollywood that the strike may soon come to an end.
What has been the impact on the UK?
Both American writers and actors are raising important and relevant issues through their labour actions. It’s likely that some of these outcomes may also find their way into the UK, and it’s not limited to salary increases alone. There are also genuine concerns regarding AI technologies not compensating artists for the use of their images, bodies, or voices.
Industrial disputes between actors, writers and their employers haven’t seen both unions go on strike since the 1960s. Other sectors have recently ended their negotiations, such as the US car industry. In the UK, we can certainly serve as a reference point when it comes to long-standing strikes as we have experienced industrial action in various sectors here and are not immune to such challenges.
It has been already reported that major film and broadcast productions have activated the pause button. But what doesn’t get into the headlines are the secondary services and skills affected by this. Hire companies, service providers, medics, armourers, tutors, chaperones, transport, catering, logistics, the list goes on.
As if we haven’t had enough to deal with since 2020. We are constantly learning from our experiences after carefully examining the limited support measures that were in place during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Presently, we hear from many of our colleagues in the film and television industry that they are facing job losses and are forced to seek employment in other fields. If we witness another wave of freelancers leaving this sector, we must be ready to expedite the process of getting things back on course promptly.
Many studios, including the Backstage Centre, became inundated with requests for studio hire as we emerged from COVID-19. It was a first-past-the-post scenario, and completely chaotic for everyone. The knock-on effect created a very nervous post-COVID-19 era where studio bookings after the initial surge were subject to first deposits being held off as long as possible as producers observed the state of the world health, the consumer markets in cinema, the volume of home viewing and downloads, whilst ensuring the funding would be a sound investment should another variant of the dreaded virus return.
With the continued uncertainty observed with the strikes in the US, the conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, and the constant rebirth of unfriendly viruses, many of our workforce feel vulnerable, uncertain, and helpless. Producers are torn, too. A return on investment is key, and further delay in getting our teams back to work is damaging. A clear warning has been given by Hollywood to find a resolution by the end of this week.
The Backstage Centre bookings strategy.
In order to expedite a smoother return to production for our clients, we gently remind everyone that we will look at any available gaps in the diary to make things work for you. We are a 24/7 operation and can work flexibly to help you get back on track.
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