The Hollywood industry, often referred to as the American film industry, is one of the largest and most influential entertainment industries in the world. It is centred in Los Angeles, California, and encompasses various aspects of filmmaking, including film production, distribution, and exhibition. While Hollywood is known for its glitz and glamour, it is not without its challenges. Issues such as fair pay, and healthy work-culture of workers have been subjects of ongoing discussions and debates within the industry. For the first time in six decades, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) has put a step down to strike against these challenges. The SAG has joined the writers who have been in protest for the last 70 days. In fact, Oppenheimer Actors exited the UK premiere of the move to join the Hollywood Strike.
For the first time in the last 63 years, the strike has brought the industry to a standstill. More than 1,60,000 performers joined the strike on Thursday Midnight. The ongoing writers strike remains separate as of now while both these associations have similar demands- fair profit sharing and favourable working conditions.
The Oppenheimer Premiere
The much-awaited Oppenheimer is in its final leg of promotions as the film release is scheduled for next week across the globe. The UK Premiere was held yesterday, where Director Christopher Nolan communicated that the lead actors of the project, Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, left the premiere to join the strike, which has begun after failed talks with various studio houses.
The SAG Union had a three-year-long contract signed which expired at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, following which the strike commenced after the President of Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced the same.
The strike came after a saturation point when both sides reached an impasse and could not come to a conclusion. After several failed attempts, SAG decided to go ahead with the strike.
The President expressed deep sadness over the move because this would affect the livelihoods of many big and small actors. However, failing to see a way forward, they had to resort to such extreme steps.
Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA said “What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labour,” He added, “When employers make Wall Street and greed their priority and they forget about the essential contributors who make the machine run, we have a problem.”
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which is representing the studios, stated the disappointment about the strike as it will negatively impact the functioning of the industry. A Spokesperson added, “A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for as studios cannot operate without the performers that bring our TV shows and films to life.”
The demands of the Guild
With the ongoing surge of AI, there has been a threat to many jobs across various fields. The entertainment industry also does remain untouched by it. One of the demands of the Association is a commitment from the end of the Studios stating that AI-generated faces and voices will not replace actors in movies and TV shows.
The Studios earn large sums of money as profits from various shows and films. The actors are the ones who breathe life into these pieces but enjoy close to no share in profit. The actors have demanded a fairer share in the overall profit on account of being an important part of the hard work. The Writers Association has also demanded fair pay in the last 70 days.
The SAG along with the Writers Guild is also demanding more favourable working conditions to avoid any kinds of accidents or even discrimination, that they face daily. Healthy working conditions will enhance the work experience for all kinds of people involved in the process. The actors and others will join the Picket line from Friday onwards. However, The Writers Guild of America is yet to return for negotiations.
1,60,000 Television and Movies actors will join the Picket line to support a large number of Writers from the Writers Guild of America to strengthen the movement, resulting in one of the biggest protests of all time. Before this, the Hollywood industry witnessed a strike in 1940 which was led by Actor and President Ronald Regan which was similar in nature. In 1980 also there was a shutdown but it was not of this magnitude.
Seeing actors and writers on the picket line is extremely sad especially when they are demanding for basic rights such as security of their work. The double strike will surely impact the industry but it is the only way to secure a better future for those associated with it. While the Actors and Writers are on strike, The Directors Guild of America is not a part of the struggle as they successfully negotiated a contract in June.