Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Actors’ strike maybe nearing end

Sunny Bedford

July 14. The day the film industry stood still.

Since that day, the SAG-AFTRA strike has been a constant in the news cycle, with updates on stalled negotiations and delayed movie releases reminding even those not paying attention that the strike is still ongoing.

Some of the latest delays in film have been Disney’s live-action Moana, the third film in James Cameron’s Avatar series, and an untitled Spongebob Squarepants movie from Paramount. Meanwhile, in television, shows like The Last of Us, Euphoria, and Stranger Things have also experienced delays.

The strike isn’t just affecting big studio productions, though. Jaclyn Bethany, an instructor in Loyola’s Department of Digital Filmmaking and an award-winning filmmaker, has seen delays with her own project. The production was held back as Bethany waited to receive a waiver interim agreement, which would allow her to cast unionized actors in the independent film. Bethany applied for the waiver in July and has only recently received its confirmation.

“Usually it would take a week or immediately,” Bethany said. “It’s pretty nuts, because you can’t cast without it.”

Despite the waiting period for the waiver, Bethany is still able to take advantage of its benefits. By agreeing to the terms of the interim agreement, she is able to cast SAG-AFTRA members into her productions. Those who have signed the agreement are even able to cast well known actors who are “hungry to work,” according to Bethany.

Bethany hasn’t been the only independent filmmaker to sign into an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA. On the union’s website, there are over 26 pages listing different productions that have chosen to sign into the agreement. One such production has Jim Gleason, president of SAG-AFTRA New Orleans Local, currently working on it. However, studios like Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Sony have not made use of such agreements.

“If these little guys can do it, why can’t [they]?” Gleason said.

According to Gleason in a previous interview, CEOs and chairmen like Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch make hundreds of thousands of dollars every day, with companies like Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. making almost $1.2 million in the same period.

All of this just begs the question: when will the strike be over?

Gleason has tempered hopes that it might be ending soon.

“It looks like negotiations are starting to actually happen,” Gleason said. “I would love an early Christmas present. Or at least a Christmas present.”

The new negotiations come after previous meetings broke down, with executives not granting SAG-AFTRA any concessions. Rather than meeting somewhere in the middle, studio representatives did not offer any counter-proposals, instead refusing to come back to the table, according to Gleason.

“One of the things they came to the table with was less than [what] we were getting before,” Gleason said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Something must have changed, though, as the executives came back to the table on Oct. 24.

During SAG-AFTRA’s bi-annual national convention, the board members for the union received an email from studio executives, requesting a return to negotiations, according to Gleason. Unlike previous negotiations, which followed an every-other-day format, the negotiations that began Tuesday of last week have taken place every day. And unlike last time, the studios are offering actual counter-proposals.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure that the producers are feeling right now,” Gleason said. “For the most part, content is drying up.”

Gleason used Netflix as his example of content “drying up”, saying that while some new films and shows were added, their list was still largely empty. Streaming services drying up might not be the only incentive for producers and executives to come to an agreement.

According to Milken Institute, the Writers’ Strike of 2007-2008 made California’s economy lose around $2.1 billion through to the end of the year, despite the strike ending in February. For only around 100 days, the strike helped to tip the state into recession. Combining the runtimes of both the Writers Guild of America strike, which ended on Sept. 27, and the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, the number of days blooms to almost double its predecessor.

But Bethany is not so optimistic about an early bookend. She believes that the strike will continue on until January. Even then, the return to work may not be as smooth as some may hope.

“I think it would be impossible for a lot of these big shows to scramble and go back so quickly [after the strike],” Bethany said.

It is uncertain as to when the SAG-AFTRA Strike will officially be resolved, but Gleason still holds onto his convictions. Reiterating what SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher stated in the national convention, Gleason said that “this is the point in the movie where the underdog gets knocked down, and he gets back up and continues the fight.”

“One day longer. One day stronger. As long as it takes,” Gleason said.

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About the Contributors
Jacob L'Hommedieu
Jacob L'Hommedieu, Worldview Editor
Jacob L'Hommedieu is the Worldview Editor of The Maroon. He is a Senior Political Science Major with a Minor in Social Media Communications. Other than writing, he enjoys spending time with his friends and relaxing on the front porch with a cool glass of water.
Sunny Bedford
Sunny Bedford, Senior Staff Photographer
Sunny Bedford currently serves as the senior staff photographer for the Maroon. Sunny is a freshman marketing major and enjoys photography and writing. In her free time, she often sits and breathes and occasionally thinks in tandem with such activities. Sunny can be reached at [email protected].

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