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The 2023 SAG-AFTRA Strike: A Film Industry in Transition

Screenshot 2023 07 19 at 16.43.55 1689782080.

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By Niamh Walsh on 19th July 2023

Niamh Walsh takes us behind the scenes to explore how the recent writing & acting strikes in Hollywood are shaping a film industry in transition.

Hollywood is no stranger to controversy, but the recent occurrences of writer strikes have brought forth a pressing need for change in the film industry. As actors and writers take to the streets in protest against film and television production companies, it has become increasingly evident that the industry must address critical issues concerning fair treatment, inclusivity, and working conditions.

Inclusivity and Fair Treatment

One of the key concerns raised by these strikes revolves around the lack of fair treatment for actors and writers. While A-list stars may rake in massive pay checks, the majority of SAG-AFTRA members struggle to make a decent living. Shockingly, according to the union's estimates, half of its members earn less than $26,000 per year from acting, making it extremely difficult for them to qualify for guild health insurance. This glaring disparity highlights the urgent need for a more inclusive industry that guarantees equal opportunities and fair compensation for all professionals involved.

Sean Gunn recently made headlines when he claimed that he had received almost 'almost none' of the streaming revenue for his 'Gilmore Girls' role as Kirk.
Sean Gunn recently made headlines when he claimed that he had received almost 'almost none' of the streaming revenue for his 'Gilmore Girls' role as Kirk.

AI and its Implications

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the film industry presents additional challenges for actors and writers. The union argues that major studios are offering paltry compensation for the use of AI-scanned renditions of actors, often without their consent or proper remuneration. These circumstances raise concerns about the livelihoods of actors and the potential misuse of AI technology, including the resurrection of deceased performers and the complete replacement of writers. Addressing these concerns and establishing ethical guidelines for AI implementation in the industry is crucial to uphold and reinforce inclusivity.

The Role of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

As one of the most prestigious film awards, the Oscars play a significant role in promoting inclusivity within the industry. By recognising and celebrating diverse voices, stories, and performances, the Academy contributes substantially to creating a film landscape that is more representative and inclusive. In recent years, the Academy has taken steps to diversify its membership and the films it nominates, acknowledging the vital role of inclusivity in fostering creativity and innovation.

Moreover, the Academy provides a platform for marginalised communities to showcase their exceptional talent and shed light on pressing social issues. An Oscar nomination or win can serve as a launching pad for careers and open doors for underrepresented groups, offering a compelling incentive for the industry to prioritise inclusivity and actively support diverse voices.

The Academy's Commitment to Representation

In addition to the recent writer strikes and the industry's imperative for inclusivity, it is crucial to highlight the commendable efforts undertaken by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in promoting diversity and representation. The Academy has extended invitations to 398 artists and executives who have made significant contributions to the world of cinema. This diverse group includes actors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary filmmakers, makeup artists and hairstylists, music composers, producers, production designers, sound professionals, visual effects artists, writers, and members-at-large. The Academy's recognition encompasses the multifaceted contributions of individuals engaged in the art and science of filmmaking.

The newly inducted class of invitees is a testament to the Academy's unwavering commitment to representation, inclusion, and equity. Among the invitees, 40% are women, 34% come from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities, and 52% hail from 50 countries outside the United States. These statistics underscore the Academy's concerted efforts to diversify its membership and ensure that voices from diverse backgrounds are both included and celebrated. 

Furthermore, this year's invitees include 76 Oscar nominees, 22 of whom have already secured victory. This acknowledgment not only showcases the extraordinary talent possessed by these individuals but also emphasises the profound impact they have had on the film industry. The inclusion of these luminaries within the ranks of the Academy firmly reinforces the significance and value of their contributions.

2023 Writers Guild of America strike began on May 2nd, 2023, over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
2023 Writers Guild of America strike began on May 2nd, 2023, over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

In conjunction with the recent writer strikes, the Academy's concerted efforts to extend invitations to a diverse class of artists and executives epitomise the industry's growing recognition of the significance of representation and inclusion. By acknowledging the contributions of individuals from different backgrounds, the Academy plays an instrumental role in fostering a more inclusive and vibrant film community that genuinely reflects the rich diversity of our world.

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