After months of marching in the streets, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has reached a tentative deal to end their 150-day strike. At a time during which A.I. software has become so advanced, the careers and livelihoods of writers and actors have been recently threatened and the strike represents more than just unfair wages.
The demands of the writers are nothing outlandish. In simplified terms, the WGA has asked for and struck a deal outlining an increase in healthcare and pension funds, a strict set of guidelines concerning the use of A.I. and an increase in the minimum compensation for writers’ work. Actors share similar grievances as they are also demanding increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals (meaning actors can be paid and live off of money earned when their TV shows or films are streamed), an overall improvement in working conditions and protection against A.I. being used to generate performances.
Many who have stood on the sidelines watching these artists march on the picket line have expressed their frustration that actors and writers would even have to protest such things when A-list actors get paid millions of dollars. The truth of the matter is that the WGA and SAG are much larger than most people realize. A-List actors and writers make up an incredibly minuscule percentage of these unions. And while they may get paid millions of dollars, they aren’t making those millions on acting alone. Many of the most famous actors have their own production companies where A-listers then sign on to these projects as both actors and producers to make the big bucks. The majority of artists that constitute the WGA and SAG don’t have that luxury and have to work more than one job in order to survive because the dedication and payment they receive for their work are simply not enough.
Many of the big streaming services and corporations the WGA and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) are going after include Amazon/MGM, Apple, NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC/Fox, Netflix, Warner Brother, Paramount/CBS and Sony, which has resulted in many highly anticipated shows and movies to postpone their release by a whole year. While this is hardly a disastrous consequence of the strike, the strike has been a more serious threat to smaller businesses that are reliant on production to stay in business. Catering companies that supply craft services and feed the cast and crew, costume designers and cleaning companies who work hard to supply the actors with tailored and clean clothes every single day on shoot days — all of these people who go unnoticed but play a fundamental role in ensuring productions run smoothly are the people who are harmed the most by the strike.
It’s time that writers, actors and those who work behind the scenes to make movies as magical as they are are fairly compensated and given the credit they rightfully deserve for their dedication to their craft.