For the first time in six months, neither Hollywood’s actors, nor its writers, are on strike.
That follows the late Wednesday announcement that the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) arrived at an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and would halt its strike at midnight.
News of the end of the actors strike, added to the end of the Writers Guild of America strike in late September, resulted in jubilation for film and television workers in Alberta.
“We’re so excited,” Tracey Graham, a Calgary-based costume designer with IATSE Local 212, said Thursday.
Graham has worked on Calgary-area productions like 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife and 2015’s The Revenant.
Graham said the past six months have been difficult for her and her fellow film workers, but called the job actions “necessary” given the negotiations were addressing next-gen entertainment technology like streaming, artificial intelligence and digital likenesses.
“I’m so glad that they waited it out to get the results that we needed,” she said.
One local actor who hasn’t received as many calls from his agent said the news of the tentative deal was welcomed in the filmmaking community.
“As soon as that announcement was made, believe me, everybody started getting very, very pumped about what this upcoming year could look like here in Calgary,” Daniel Libman said.
Libman recently worked on Under the Banner of Heaven, which concluded filming in Alberta in December and featured Andrew Garfield in the true crime drama miniseries.
“You can tell usually how things are going by how often agents are calling with auditions. And it’s been – certainly for American projects – very, very quiet.”
Alberta has seen a couple of blockbuster years for productions in the province.
“The biggest year here was $560 million, which was in 2021 (and) 2022 was below the $500 million mark,” Luke Azevedo, film commissioner with Calgary Economic Development, said, adding the province.
He expects 2023 will tally out at around half those values.
Damian Petti, IATSE Local 212 president, said his 1300 Calgary-based members who work behind the scenes were unemployed by the strike and lost tens of millions of dollars in wages. But he’s optimistic the local industry will be able to bounce back once productions ramp back up.
“We’re in a good position to recover,” he said. “We have strong potential. There’s a low Canadian dollar, competitive incentives, capacity in our soundstages. And from what I can tell, we didn’t lose too many people during the strike, which is good news.
“We had a meeting on the weekend and I got to meet with 150 of our members, and they’re ready to go back to work.”
Petti said the financial effects of film and television productions extend beyond just actors and crew members.
“Not just our members, many of whom are small business owners, prop shops and costume shops, but the larger community hotels and restaurants and equipment suppliers and hardware stores, they benefit greatly, and we’ve seen that in recent years,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars come into our economy through this industry. We expect that trend to continue going forward.”
Petti and Azevedo aren’t expecting an immediate return to full capacity, with Thanksgiving in the United States and the winter holidays around the corner.
And given the complex logistical puzzle that is a multi-million dollar production, it will take some time to get back up to full steam.
“This is not flipping a switch and going. This is productions in some instances starting from the beginning and in others being able to to take on where they left off and continue to go,” Azevedo said. “We’re hoping that some of these productions will be able to still be finished in this fiscal year.”
That work will begin after SAG-AFTRA’s national committee and members vote to ratify the agreement.
Libman said performers north of the border are paying close attention to details in that agreement, with Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) due to go into similar negotiations next year.
“Everyone is very anxious to see the wording that’s going to have to be negotiated and renegotiated, so that people here in Canada will have the same working conditions and the same certainty about things like A.I. and streaming,” he said.
– with files from The Associated Press
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