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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Cinema with Sam: The writer’s strike and why it matters

The writer’s strike has halted all writing and production of acted film and television. (Photo courtesy of USNews)

As you may have heard or seen, the entire film industry has been shut down since May due to the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America and the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union. The unions have been picketing for months demanding better pay and rights for their workers. This is everything you need to know about the strikes, including why they’re striking and how this may impact the film industry for years to come.

Why are the actors and writers striking?

The writers and actors are striking for both similar and different reasons. The New York Times and The Guardian both report that the Writer’s Guild represents about 11,500 writers of television and film and that SAG-AFTRA represents around 160,000 members, ranging from television and film to YouTube influencers and video game performers. Both organizations are negotiating with the major studios in Hollywood.

Some important issues at stake include residuals and the payments that performers receive for repeat showings of films or TV shows. Both the writers and actors have received minimal payments. For example, Cody Ziglar, who wrote a highly-anticipated episode of the Marvel show “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” (2022) made $396 in residuals, an absurdly low amount for a writer not just on a Marvel TV show, but on any television show.

Another issue is the use of artificial intelligence in the process of filmmaking, whether it’s having A.I. generate full-length movie scripts or using A.I. to recreate actors’ likenesses without providing the proper compensation. 

“What these workers are leading can be placed into a larger context of American labor struggle, with many shared needs that are at stake, including issues of labor exploitation, fair and equitable pay, stability and consistent work,” Drew Swedberg, a visiting professor of film and media studies, said. 

What do these strikes mean for the film industry right now?

Because of the ongoing strikes, the television and film industries are shut down. No show or movie is allowed to continue production during this time unless it is being produced outside the major studio system as an independent film. Along with not being allowed to continue production, no writer can continue their work during this time. These guidelines have caused many high-profile television shows and films to be delayed, including “Dune: Part Two” being pushed from November 2023 to March 2024 and shows such as “The Last of Us” and “House of the Dragon” halting writing and pre-production. Furthermore, no actor or writer can promote their work during this time.

What does this mean for the film industry moving forward?

Honestly, no one is currently sure where these strikes are heading. Not much leeway is being given on either side, especially from the executives and studio heads. All we can hope is that these issues are resolved and that the Writer’s Guild and SAG-AFTRA members receive the proper compensation for their hard work.

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About the Contributor
Sam Cohen
Sam Cohen, Movie Columnist
Sam Cohen (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies. He won the Special Grand Jury Prize for his Comedy short film “The Gum Run” at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. Sam writes weekly reviews of recent TV Shows and Movies while occasionally reviewing older, forgotten classics. When not reviewing, discussing, or watching films, Sam is also a part of many extracurriculars on campus, including being a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, and an officer of the Film Society.

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