Dreams Struck Down By Strikes?

Courtesy photo by Mingus Ferreira

Concordia film production students talk WGA/SAG strikes

In case you’re unaware, the WGA (Writers Guild Association) and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) are simultaneously on strike for the first time in 60 years. Both writers and actors are demanding fair compensation and better working conditions, standing toe-to-toe with Hollywood’s powerhouse studios. 

These strikes are now exposing some of the working conditions in Hollywood, and just how awful they are. On top of this, they’ve exposed how studios are cutting costs by not paying any residuals for content on streaming services. 

Does this sound like the kind of work environment you’d aspire to have? Well for some of Concordia’s film production students, it is. So how have they been reacting to these strikes?

Talking with Alvaro Gomez, a second year film production student, he explained the need for these strikes saying, “Action needs to be taken right now.” 

So, if you were to ask me these strikes have been a long time coming. Netflix began its streaming service in 2007. Since then, writers and actors have not received any residuals for their work in content shown on streaming platforms. For any of you non-math majors that’s 16 years of not being fairly paid for your work. 

I believe we can all agree that that’s outrageous and unacceptable, no?

Yet, there’s still talk online of strikers’ demands being greedy— to which Ellie Charette, a second-year film production student, says: “If they’re willing to pump $200 million into weekly blockbusters, I think they can afford to pay their actors and writers fairly.” This just showing how studios are more than capable of paying fair wages, they’re just choosing not to. 

“I don’t see how that is even remotely selfish… I’m not even asking for 1% of the revenue” said Gomez. Now, in a post pandemic world nobody would take issue if say, nurses were asking to be fairly compensated, but as Gomez pointed out ‘Everyone knows the industry is completely rotten with the most horrible people.’” 

On top of this, studios like Disney have been completely unwilling to budge. Instead of agreeing to the terms and taking a less-than-one-per-cent pay cut, studios are now pushing release dates for highly anticipated films, hoping to wait out the strikes so actors will return to do press.

However, through all this there’s been a shining light at the end of the tunnel. Strikers today are fighting not only for themselves, but the aspiring filmmakers, writers, directors and actors of tomorrow. Mingus Ferreira, a second year film production student, actually visited the picket line outside of Netflix offices in New York.

Ferreira spoke to the camaraderie and witnessed heartwarming solidarity. “It was raining, it wasn’t a very nice day but people were still out there,” he recalled. 

Gomez spoke to the same thing as he pointed out how, despite studios cutting down trees in LA to get rid of any shade in the sun, strikers still showed up. “You could hear them from far away,” Ferreira added.

So how come these awful working conditions haven’t deterred our film production students from the industry? It comes down to one thing— the love of film.

In speaking with these three film production students, one thing was made glaringly clear. The fact is that these strikes need to be happening now, because these young passionate and talented filmmakers deserve to be treated with respect.

Pay your actors and writers, that’s all. 


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