by Oana-Mari Moldovan
Last month, a significant development shook the film industry as the workers' union, SAG-AFTRA, initiated a strike due to the stalled negotiations with The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on equitable wages and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in filmmaking.
Amidst this unrest, a beacon of progress shines through. 39 independent film and TV projects secured approval from SAG-AFTRA to forge ahead with their endeavors. Notably, A24, a renowned New York-based production company celebrated for its Academy Awards triumphs, stands at the forefront of this movement.
The Hollywood actors' union's decision to exempt these 39 projects from the strike, a momentous announcement made last Tuesday, underscores the complexity of the situation. Two of these projects are A24 creations. A24's cinematic prowess is evident in its critically acclaimed films like “Midsommar” (2019), “Lady Bird” (2017), and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2022).
Among these ongoing A24 projects is the highly anticipated melodrama “Mother Mary,” starring Anne Hathaway and Michaela Coel. Additionally, A24 brings forth “Death of a Unicorn,” starring Rudd Paul and Jena Ortega in a captivating father-daughter duo.
However, the crux of the matter is encapsulated in two vital questions: How do smaller production companies manage to offer fair wages while industry giants falter, and what underpins this dichotomy? The answer, while seemingly simplistic, is a testament to the intricacies of the industry. Greed, an unfortunate reality, plays a role, yet the contrast between A24's success and larger corporations' struggles unveils a more nuanced panorama.
The agility of indie productions to meet strike demands while conglomerates flounder highlights the intricacies of the entertainment realm. Smaller studios often exhibit a nimbleness that larger entities find challenging to emulate, owing to their intricate organizational structures and myriad stakeholders. Nevertheless, the insensitivity of larger corporations to these issues remains difficult to excuse.
Presently, the plight afflicting numerous artists has persisted for an extended period. The initial discussions began nearly six months ago, implying ample time for substantial change even within major corporations such as Disney. The question arises: Why did such companies not uphold fair wages from the outset? Furthermore, their disconnect from AI-related concerns raises eyebrows.
Regrettably, the situation's tragic impact on Hollywood's creatives continues to deepen, with no immediate solution in sight. The verdict is clear: We must rally behind projects sanctioned by SAG-AFTRA, projects that exemplify ethical work standards. Fair compensation signifies fairness for all involved.
Noteworthy projects in this category encompass the aforementioned A24 films, Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” “The Rivals of Amziah King” featuring Matthew McConaughey, “Flight Risk” with Mark Wahlberg under Mel Gibson's direction, “Dust Bunny” starring Mads Mikkelsen and Sigourney Weaver, and the incomparable Rebel Wilson in “Bride Hard.”
Amidst this turbulence, a silver lining emerges. This strike could catalyze a resurgence of indie filmmaking, unlocking fresh prospects for smaller production companies. The scene is set for a transformation that might reshape the industry's landscape, propelled by the determination of those fighting for fair practices.