It's mid-June 2023 and the writer's strike continues. I read a missive from the Directors Guild that said real progress is being made. My first thought was, how does the Directors Guild know? My second thought was, maybe they do. I hope so.
Negotiations with the AMPTP (Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers) began June 7 for the actors union, SAGAFTRA. IATSE (International Association of Theater and Stage Employees) has a couple years left on their contract. I don't know about any other unions, but I'll bet negotiations are in the offing for them too. My point is, "creatives" are at the mercy of monied entities and becoming a monied entity usually means leaving the creative realm. What's an actor to do?
The reasons for the strike have been made clear. By the WGA and producers. Working hours, respect, writer's room, health contributions. It all comes down to money. And, why not? Everything in negotiation comes down to money. Even the peripheral issues have to be paid for, so money it is. Now, my union (SAGAFTRA) is in the midst of negotiations. What do we want? Money. I'm okay with that, because a living is a living even if it's damn hard to make.
Wrapped around remuneration is artificial intelligence (AI). An oxymoron if ever I've heard one. But, that's money too. If AI starts spitting out regurgitated scripts and studios suck them up then writers won't get paid. Sidebar - AI is a hack. A plagiaristic hack that steals from human creation without anything original or paying for the material. Phew. I spit on plagiarism and thievery!
You see, work equals pay equals life equals happiness. Whether a ditch digger or novelist, work and a paycheck are irreplaceable to the health of the human condition. I know. You're asking about volunteer work. Very important. Very valuable. Very fulfilling. For the person who already has the bills covered. Most of us need a job to pay for life. That's all writers, actors, grips, electrics and everyone else are asking. Fairness.
I hope the writers come to an agreement. I hope my union strikes a deal so we don't have to strike. But I will if it comes to that. Which brings me to a stupefying point. SAGAFTRA and AMPTP agreed to radio silence during talks. Huh? As a card carrying, dues paying member, I want to know what the hell is going on. Progress yes? Progress no? Streaming residuals yes? Streaming residuals no? Total compensation package on the table right now? I want to know what is happening. Seems a bit shady to me. I wrote SAGAFTRA to let them know how I feel. Let's see if and/or when they get back to me.
On a slightly different note, I've been getting theater auditions lately. Which is good. I know a strike won't prevent me from working on stage, but, like I said, I hope it doesn't come to that. I'm waiting word after a call back and have another coming up. Perhaps two. We'll see. Film has been hard to land with productions grinding to a halt so I'm working on my tenth novel. I'll let you know how it goes.
May all be well with you and yours.
Keep the faith and practice kindness. Blessings, all.