The film and television industry is facing a major crisis as the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union that represents about 160,000 media professionals and entertainers, has been on strike since July 14, 2023. The strike is the result of a deadlock in the negotiations between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade association that represents the studios that produce film and television content. The two sides have failed to agree on a new contract that covers issues such as streaming residuals, self-tape auditions, and artificial intelligence. The strike has lasted for more than 100 days, making it the longest in SAG-AFTRA history. It has also disrupted the production and release of many film and television projects, affecting both the industry and the audiences. This article will explore the causes, effects, and possible outcomes of the SAG-AFTRA actors strike.
Causes of SAG-AFTRA Actors Strike
The SAG-AFTRA actors strike is mainly driven by three factors: streaming residuals, self-tape auditions, and artificial intelligence.
Streaming residuals are the money that actors get when their work is streamed on platforms like Netflix, Disney+, or HBO Max. The union demands higher residuals to match the increasing popularity and profitability of streaming services. The studios say that residuals are already fair and generous and that raising them would affect their ability to invest in new content.
Self-tape auditions are when actors film themselves performing a scene or a monologue and send it to casting directors or producers. The union wants to control these auditions to make sure that actors are paid for their time and effort, and that their recordings are not used without their permission or payment. The studios say that self-tape auditions are a convenient and efficient way to find talent and that controlling them would limit their creative freedom and flexibility.
Artificial intelligence is the use of technology to scan actors’ faces and create digital performances. The union wants to stop the studios from using AI to replace actors on set or in post-production and to protect the rights and royalties of actors whose likeness is used by AI. The studios say that AI is a useful tool that can improve storytelling and visual effects and that limiting its use would hinder innovation and quality.
Effects of SAG-AFTRA Actors Strike
The film and television industry, as well as the audiences and the society, have experienced significant effects from the SAG-AFTRA actors strike. Some of the effects are:
Disruption in the Production of Film and TV Projects
Many film and television projects have faced disruption in their production and release because of the strike, affecting both the industry and the audiences. Some of the major productions that have stopped or postponed their work include Deadpool 3, Gladiator 2, Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning, Wicked: Part One, and It Ends With Us. The strike has also impacted the promotional appearances of actors, such as premieres, festivals, and award shows.
Exposed the Inequalities and Difficulties Faced by Actors
The strike has exposed the inequalities and difficulties that actors encounter in the streaming age, such as low or unfair compensation, lack of job security, and possible replacement by artificial intelligence. The strike has also increased awareness about the importance of protecting actors’ rights and royalties, especially about their likeness and performance.
Solidarity and Support of Actors
The strike demonstrated the solidarity and support of actors for their union and their fellow members, as well as the support of other unions and guilds, such as the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which also went on strike in July 2023 over similar issues. The strike has also revealed the public’s sympathy and interest in the actors’ cause, as well as their frustration and disappointment with the studios.
Opened Opportunities for Other Production Units
The strike has opened up opportunities for independent and international productions that are not affiliated with SAG-AFTRA or AMPTP to continue filming or to gain more exposure. Some of these productions include The Chosen Season 4, The Power of the Dog, Passing, and The Lost Daughter.
The strike has also inspired some actors to create their content or to explore other forms of entertainment, such as podcasts, YouTube videos, TikTok clips, etc. Some of these actors include Will Smith, Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Kevin Hart.
Possible Outcomes of the SAG-AFTRA Actors Strike
The film and television industry, as well as the audiences and society, have been affected by the SAG-AFTRA actor’s strike, which is a labor dispute that has gone on for more than 100 days. The strike could have different outcomes, such as:
Formation of New Contract
The strike could be resolved with a new contract that meets the union’s demands for higher pay, better residuals, and more protection from artificial intelligence. This would mean that the studios would have to give up a lot and increase their costs, but it would also bring back the normal functioning of the industry and the quality of the content. This outcome would rely on the willingness and ability of both sides to compromise and negotiate in good faith.
Strike can Continue Indefinitely
The strike could go on indefinitely, with no end in sight. This would cause more disruption and losses for the industry, as well as more frustration and disappointment for the audiences. Many film and television projects would be stopped or postponed, and some actors might lose their jobs or opportunities. The strike could also impact other sectors of the entertainment industry, such as music, gaming, and sports. This outcome would depend on the stubbornness and intransigence of both sides, as well as the external factors that could affect their positions.
Radical Transformation of the Industry
The strike could lead to a radical change in the industry, with new models and platforms emerging to challenge the traditional ones. Some actors might create their content or explore other forms of entertainment, such as podcasts, YouTube videos, TikTok clips, etc. Some independent and international productions might get more exposure and recognition, as they are not affiliated with SAG-AFTRA or AMPTP. Some new technologies might enable actors to bypass the studios and reach their audiences directly, such as blockchain, NFTs, or VR. This outcome would depend on the creativity and innovation of both actors and audiences, as well as the availability and accessibility of these alternatives
The SAG-AFTRA actor’s strike has had a significant impact on the film and television industry. It has disrupted the production and release of many projects, exposed the inequalities faced by actors, and garnered solidarity and support from both actors and the public. The possible outcomes of the strike include the formation of a new contract, the continuation of the strike indefinitely, or a radical transformation of the industry with new models and platforms emerging.