Writers and actors within the film industry are taking a stand against tech giants, risking their careers in the process. The landscape of filmmaking has drastically changed in recent years, with the industry now being largely influenced and controlled by tech companies. While the ultimate goal of creating films that resonate with audiences remains, the entire process has undergone significant transformations.
One area of concern for many writers is the increasing number of people working at minimum wages, regardless of their level of experience. Additionally, the duration of writers’ rooms, where storylines, character development, and dialogue are crafted, has been shortened. This has resulted in fewer job opportunities and financial stability for writers, while showrunners struggle to find qualified writing staff to complete their seasons.
Furthermore, corporate buyouts and limited intellectual property ownership rights have left screenwriters with declining and uncertain careers. The threat of artificial intelligence (AI) wiping out countless jobs in the industry adds to the growing instability. In response to these pressing issues, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) have both gone on strike, demanding fair labor practices and protections against AI taking over creative work. This marks the first joint strike by both organizations since 1960 and represents a battle between traditional filmmakers and tech giants.
The dominance of streaming platforms in the industry has left film production professionals grappling for stability. In Canada, where the film industry is highly interconnected with the United States, the ongoing strike has had significant repercussions. Canadian counterparts, such as the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and the Screen Actors Guild-Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (SAG-ACTRA), have shown their solidarity by halting all American unionized work in the country. This has resulted in the suspension of several major projects in Vancouver, a city heavily reliant on the film industry for employment and economic activity.
Despite their support, Canadian writers and actors will not directly benefit from any agreements made during the strike. Canada’s film industry is often considered a service production sector, with Vancouver serving as a gateway to Hollywood. Nonetheless, a recent Canadian legislation, Bill C-11, is expected to bring positive changes by increasing investment in Canadian content and enabling Canadian creators and producers to retain intellectual property rights. While these developments offer hope for the future, the lack of strike pay and benefits have forced many Canadian writers and actors to seek work outside the industry for mere survival.
It is essential to recognize that these challenges extend beyond borders, affecting the industry as a whole. While technological advancements have brought some progress to filmmaking, they have also given rise to a host of complex issues. The ongoing strike serves as a crucial moment in shaping the future of filmmaking, as it highlights the urgent need for fair labor practices and the preservation of creative autonomy in the face of technological domination.
As the strike continues, the film industry stands at a crossroads, where collaboration, innovation, and fair treatment of its creative workforce are paramount. The battle between traditional filmmakers and tech giants will shape the industry’s trajectory moving forward. Meanwhile, industry professionals and audiences alike await the resolution of this historic strike and hope for a revitalized film industry built upon values of creativity, stability, and respect.