Production Sound & Video

Winter 2024

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Page 17 of 67

It very much feels as though Hollywood is at a crossroads. The #MeToo Movement began a cascade of high-profile scandals that continue to this day. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the industry from a "Cinema First" to a "Streaming First" model that's proven financially disastrous. The 2021 IATSE Basic Agreement & Area Standards Agreement negotiations unveiled a longstanding custom of worker abuse through platforms like the IAStories Instagram account. Throughout 2022, Variety and Deadline reported on the deteriorating working conditions in visual effect companies. The oversaturation of CGI-heavy blockbusters had created a crunch culture of unpaid overtime and exhaustion. Then on May 2, 11,500 members of the WGA put down their pens and walked off the job in protest of the poor wages, conditions, and job security protections offered by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. On July 14, they were joined by more than 160,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. For a combined 191 days, film and television productions across the country shut down and the industry nearly went dormant. Now the strikes have come to an end and production is beginning to resume. According to the Milken Institute, the strikes have cost the American economy approximately $6 billion. So as the dust settles, let's take stock of what's just happened. Throughout early 2023, there was a growing sense that production was beginning to slow in anticipation of the strikes. The Motion Picture Industry Health & Pension Plans have reported a steep decline in reported working hours as early as February compared to 2021 and 2022. By April, the plans had seen almost a 20% reduction in working hours. Perhaps this was merely a result of the studio's realization that they had overcommitted on the development of streaming content during the pandemic, but that's a hard narrative to accept. Early on during the strikes, Deadline and Variety reported that studio execs were going to "bleed out" the unions, that "The endgame [was] to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses," and that the studios said they were indulging in a "cruel, but necessary evil." Such public statements make it clear that the goal was to break us; not just the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, but all of labor. This adversarial relationship that has cropped up between business and labor is to nobody's benefit. The studios did not save themselves any money by allowing a strike to go on for 191 days. The concessions that were made in September and November could have been made in May and July, and we'd all be $6 billion better by James Delhauser Post-Strike Post Game Local 695 member Omar Cruz Rodriguez and his son Lorenzo on the strike line Local 695 Trustee Jennifer Winslow on the strike line

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