After months of shutdown, Hollywood is about to get back to work. Following the settlement of the Writers' Strike several weeks ago, the SAG-AFTRA strike has also been resolved. This means that productions that have been halted by both Hollywood strikes are able to resume filming this week.
What is SAG-AFTRA?
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is an American labor union that was formed from the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). It represents approximately 160,000 media professionals worldwide. SAG-AFTRA is a member of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. It is also a member of the International Federation of Actors (FIA).
SAG-AFTRA's membership is diverse, consisting of actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, disc jockeys, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. Membership in SAG-AFTRA is often seen as a rite of passage for new performers and media professionals and is usually obtained after being hired for their first job in a studio that has a collective bargaining agreement with the union.
What was the SAG-AFTRA Strike about?
The 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike was a significant event in the history of American media. From July 14, 2023, to November 9, 2023, the American actors' union SAG-AFTRA was on strike over a labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). This strike, which lasted for 118 days, was the longest in SAG-AFTRA's history. The strike resulted in the loss of 45,000 jobs and an estimated $6.5 billion loss to the economy of Southern California.
The strike was led by changes in the industry caused by streaming and its effect on residuals, as well as other new technologies like AI and digital recreation. In particular, interest in using AI to replicate an actor, using existing scans and motion capture, was at issue. Using this technology, an actor could essentially put themselves out of work by working on a project that uses motion capture, which is nearly every movie in modern Hollywood.
The Strike's resolution
On November 8, 2023, a tentative deal was reached, and the strike officially ended at 12:01 a.m. on November 9. The new contract included the first-ever protections for actors against artificial intelligence and a historic pay increase. The deal also included a "streaming participation bonus," as well as increases in pension and health contributions.
The full details of the agreement have not been released, likely as a protective measure. As the agreement is technically still preliminary, they want to give themselves enough time to go through the full agreement before releasing the details to the public. This will involve a group of members reviewing the documents and putting the agreement up for a vote of the membership of the union. Assuming that everything is in place and as expected, work should not stop again any time soon.