Fall 2019

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 118

A Letter from the National Executive Director 12 SAG-AFTRA | Fall 2019 | Dear Member, I recently attended a meeting at the influential Center for the Digital Future, which is housed at USC. It's where founder and director Jeffrey Cole, one of the best-known thinkers about the future of the entertainment industry, repeated a profound insight that he first delivered at an industrywide event in October. Noting the paltry representation by traditional TV network shows versus the overall ascendancy of the digital streamers' shows represented at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, Cole declared: "September 2019 was the moment we will mark as the official end of the traditional television era. November 2019, when Disney+ and Apple TV+ launch their digital platforms to audiences around the world, we will mark the beginning of the Streaming Giant era. … The next 12 months will be the most disruptive and transformative in the entertainment industry since the introduction of television 70 years ago." Welcome to the "Streaming-Industrial Complex," as one magazine deemed it. Of course, we have heard such apocalyptic statements from industry observers before. But there was something unique about Cole's definitive marking of the "before" and "after" timeline that struck a chord with me. It matches SAG-AFTRA's own internal research and the many discussions I have had with industry leaders and decision- makers. The entertainment industry has undergone profound change for the last several years, which many have noted. But with the wholesale adoption of streaming platforms by our longest- established studios (Disney+, etc.), and the unabashed and highly publicized embrace of the streaming television platform by newcomers (Apple TV+, etc.) — all of which will be followed by huge, separately branded digital television platforms in the coming year (HBO Max, Peacock, etc.) — it appears that we are entering a watershed moment for our industry. I spoke about this during my speech to the delegates at our fourth SAG-AFTRA National Convention, a gathering that brought many new (and young!) faces to Los Angeles to establish and strengthen relationships with peers and colleagues from across the country. The convention gave us a chance to speak at length about all of this as we focused on the changing world around us. Our members also engaged in the important activities of any good convention, including constitutionally mandated governance duties (elections and resolutions). Attendees listened to seminars and to the rousing speeches of newly elected officers. Overall, delegates departed with solid information about the remarkable work the union has accomplished over the past two years and the strategic challenges ahead of us. We will need this energy and inspiration in the coming months. In my presentation and others that weekend, we outlined several of the areas that demand our collective focus. Among others, our priorities must include responding to the increased pressure placed on our members in the compressed production schedules of digital streamers. Our members acutely feel the countless ways that producers now attempt to cut budgetary corners by asking professional talent to do more for less and, in certain instances, by deliberately taking steps to disregard contract provisions with the hope that no one will inform the union. Then, some companies take steps to actively delay resolution of a dispute or payment once they are caught by the union. This is unacceptable and we are aggressively focused on innovative ways to hold these behemoth companies accountable for improving their conduct as employers. Finally, congratulations to our newly elected officers and board members from across the country. We look forward to working in partnership with you as we press forward with the union's full agenda ahead of us. In solidarity and looking forward, David White D AV I D W H I T E "Our members acutely feel the countless ways that producers now attempt to cut budgetary corners by asking professional talent to do more for less."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of SAG-AFTRA - Fall 2019