How Hollywood Strikes Affect Festivals
The SAG-WGA strikes in Hollywood are going to have devastating effects on the economy, show business and its members. When production shuts down, there is a ripple effect. Hotels, restaurants, transportation systems and small local businesses are all affected.
With the WGA strike alone, the labor action was costing the local economy $30 million a day, an estimate they calculated by applying inflation to an analysis of the financial toll of the 2008 writers’ strike. That 100-day walkout cost the region $2 billion, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. Now add SAG to the equation, and things get even worse.
The strikes in Hollywood are going to have a huge impact on the fall festival season as well, from the smaller indies to the Oscar candidates. Independent films rely on critical acclaim, and word-of-mouth marketing. The limited availability of promotional opportunities and reduced media coverage could make it more challenging for these films to gain visibility and find their audience.
Traditionally, Telluride kicks things off Memorial Weekend, leading into Venice and then Toronto. In addition to being top tier fests for film aficionados, these events have become PR junkets for most of the prestige pictures released by the studios before Oscar voting begins.
One prominent example of the strike’s impact can be seen in the premiere of the highly anticipated film, Oppenheimer, where director Christopher Nolan revealed that the star-studded cast had joined the strike. The cast literally walked out on the screening, once the strike became official.
Of course, film festivals are about discovery and most of the participating films won’t be competing for Oscars. Yet, we can’t deny that publicity helps to generate buzz, and with these new strike rules, WGA writers and SAG actors will not be permitted to do interviews or walk the red carpet.
There are a few other rules and considerations filmmakers, writers and actors need to be aware of, whether or not they are current union members. One false move could affect future membership. Here is a general list of regulations, with links to learn more:
The following actions must be avoided:
- No For Your Consideration screenings
- No meetings with signatory companies
- No options or sales for scripts to signatory companies
- No interviews with press to drive tickets to your films
- No appearance on festival or premiere red carpets
- No promotion of your work on a festival panel
What WGA writers can do:
- Be on platforms, like The Black List
- Procure an agent but they can’t solicit work, or pitch projects to companies
- Play festivals, but they cannot do PR
The following actions must be avoided:
- No acting, singing, dancing, or performing stunts,
- No motion capture work in front of a camera
- No stand in or body double work
- No camera tests or rehearsals
- No ADR or looping, or do background voices for film, tv series or trailers
- No meeting with agents, managers, studio executives or producers about future work.
Under the many conditions of the strike, SAG members are to abstain from promotional activities for work under TV or theatrical contracts such as
- Personal appearances
- Fan Expos
- For Your Consideration Events
- Fan Screenings
- Award Shows
- Social Media appearances
- Studio showcases
NOTICE TO NON-MEMBERS: Any non-member seeking future membership in SAG-AFTRA who performs covered services for a struck company during the strike will not be admitted into membership in SAG-AFTRA.
What Actors Can Do
In addition to above graphic, they can meet to discuss short, student and micro budget projects.
How This Affects Future Pipelines
There are several ways in which the strikes will affect the release landscape.
With actors participating in strike activities, film productions have come to a standstill. This will lead to delays in shooting schedules and impact the completion of films currently in production, which of course affects future festival submissions, acquisitions and future distribution pipelines.
Streaming platforms, theaters, and other distribution partners will have no choice but to adjust their strategies and schedules in response limited availability of new films. This will result in changes to distribution deals, release windows, and exhibition strategies going forward.
Yes, these strikes will have a major effect on the economy, our industry and film festivals. Perhaps, with enough universal pushback, maybe some of the suits in the studio/network executive suites could take a pay cut.
“Overall, average pay for Hollywood’s top execs climbed to $28 million in 2021, up 53% from 2018 (and roughly 108 times the average writer’s pay) according to the analysis, which uses compensation data from the research firm Equilar and includes stock options, base salaries, bonuses and other perks.will take a pay cut.”
The top Hollywood exec made $498 million in the last 5 years—384 times as much as the average writer
Jennifer Liu – CNBC
This further demonstrates how lopsided the industry is at this point. Even a small percentage taken from the average exec pay, sprinkled atop the striking union worker’s base salary, would make a difference. One can dream.
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