Hope For Filmmakers Amidst the SAG-AFTRA Strike

Aug 23, 2023 | Law Student Blog,

Hope For Filmmakers Amidst the SAG-AFTRA Strike

By Z’necia Hall, Saint Louis University School of Law, Juris Doctor Candidate

On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America, better known as the WGA, went on strike. The union could not come to an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), and as the strike continued and actors marched to show their support, most started to suspect that SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, would also strike. Lo and behold, on July 14, 2023, SAG-AFTRA went on strike because it also could not come to an agreement with the AMPTP.

These two unions have not been on strike at the same time since 1960 when former president Ronald Reagan was the president of SAG (before it was SAG-AFTRA).

What is SAG-AFTRA asking for and why?
SAG-AFTRA has quite a few goals. One is to bring actors’ pay up to the level that inflation necessitates but the AMPTP has only offered a small raise that does not bridge the inflation gap. Another goal is to get protection over actors’ images regarding motion capture scans and AI. According to SAG-AFTRA’s website, the AMPTP wants the ability to scan an individual’s body, pay them for a day or half-day’s work and use that scan in perpetuity for whatever it wants without any additional pay to that individual. In other words, after scanning, that scan could be used for whatever, forever and without compensation. SAG-AFTRA is also looking to help actors get paid their fair share for movies and television series and shows that are streamed on services such as Netflix. The residual compensation from streaming is currently far behind that of cable television even though streaming has a much grander reach than cable and it has produced some of the most popular content of all time.

Those are only a few reasons why SAG-AFTRA is on strike. More information on what SAG-AFTRA is asking for and what the AMPTP responses were can be found at Why We Strike | SAG-AFTRA Strike (sagaftrastrike.org)

What does this mean for the industry?
Well, right now, most things are simply on pause. However, SAG-AFTRA is allowing productions to continue working with its actors and performers if producers sign an interim agreement. Such productions must not be connected to the AMPTP or the connected production studios under it. According to Fran Drescher, the current president of SAG-AFTRA, these interim agreements essentially ask for the same protections that it sought from the AMPTP. She expressed that the fact that some producers are agreeing to these terms demonstrates that the requests are reasonable.

On SAG-AFTRA’s website, there is a list of productions that have already been approved. There appears to be new ones joining the list almost daily. The interim agreement web page also has a sample of the agreement for producers to review beforehand. It appears to be open to any production that has been affected by the strike and is not operating under the AMPTP or its connected studios. To start the process, one must complete a signatory application, then further directions on completing the interim agreement will follow.

Information on the process of potentially signing an interim agreement and information on who to contact with questions can be found at Interim Agreement | SAG-AFTRA Strike (sagaftrastrike.org).

Most predict that this strike will last a while. However, it is nice to know that even during this strike there is hope for actors, performers and filmmakers to continue creating and making a living through their craft.

Our summer associate program is sponsored by:

The Bar Plan logo