Definition September 2023 - Web


TOTAL SHUTDOWN The actors’ union has not staged a walkout on the TV and film industry since 1980

As the deadlock continues, the rest of the industry is feeling the pinch, with the UK particularly hard hit given the high volume of US studio and streaming projects utilising the country’s excellent facilities, crews and tax breaks. In the UK, the strike has halted production on Universal’s Wicked , Speak No Evil and How to Train Your Dragon ; Disney’s Deadpool 3 and Andor ; Apple’s Silo ; The Sandman from Netflix/Warner Bros and the latter’s Beetlejuice sequel. According to Bectu, the UK union for creative industries, which represents over 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries, thousands of UK filmmakers are now out of work. “It’s a perfect storm,” Bectu’s national secretary of London and regional production divisions, Spencer MacDonald, told Screen Daily . “All areas have had a downturn – unscripted, commercials. There’s not much scope for moving around at the moment. “Even the people who were regularly working and good at their jobs are fumbling around trying to get work. When these people have to start doing that, you know things aren’t great.” Over the past few months, Bectu’s membership has increased dramatically, as film creatives in the UK seek support and advice. “It started more slowly when the writers’ strike was initially announced,” MacDonald added. “But as soon as the SAG-AFTRA dispute happened, we saw a massive increase.



The number of joiners in the past month is at least double what we normally get.” Elsewhere, reports Screen Daily , The Film and TV Charity (another UK organisation) has seen an increase in people applying for grants that help those who are struggling to work in the M&E industry. There are still projects shooting in the UK, with Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 said to be prepping to shoot without its actors in September, while Paddington in Peru is continuing without its US cast (any British cast members who are members of the Equity union are still able to work). Similarly, HBO’s House of the Dragon was already written before the writers’ strikes and continued to film with a primarily British cast who are unable to take part in the SAG-AFTRA action. For the vast majority of industry professionals, however, work is scarce. There’s no answer as to when the strikes will end – representatives of the writers’ union had fruitless discussions with the studios in early August – and history is no clear indicator given the complexity

of the current disputes. When both unions took action in 1960, the actors’ strike lasted six weeks, while the writers’ walkout lasted almost six months. The full impact of the strikes on the British industry remains to be seen, though many insiders feel UK productions could take a long-term hit. Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz told Variety many are now suspicious of Hollywood studios, suggesting UK writers ‘don’t want to be involved in conversations with US platforms’. Many insiders believe the strike action will drag into the early months of next year. The studios will likely have sufficient content to cope with the halt in production – Paramount CEO Bob Bakish claimed: “From a content perspective, we’re in pretty good shape. “We’re hopeful that, as an industry, we can solve this sooner rather than later,” he added. “We would all like to get back into the content production business.” For UK film creatives, however, the pressure shows no sign of abating. All details correct at time of writing



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