The Time To Strike Is NOW! (And I Don’t Mean By Striking)

The Time To Strike Is NOW! (And I Don’t Mean By Striking)

Recently, both writers and actors have initiated strikes simultaneously, an event not seen since the 1960s. But what are their demands?

 

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) began their strike in May after meeting with major networks to discuss pay and their terms and conditions. The WGA argue writers' pay rate is close to the minimum wage as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reduces long-term earnings of writers (aka residuals) by taking a large share of the money made after a show is aired, causing the reduction of writers incomes. The minimum wage, previously agreed for writers, applies only to broadcast television, meaning writers for streamed television negotiate pay with streaming companies solo. Furthermore, writers are pushing for AI like ChatGPT to be reserved for research purposes, and not as writers.

 

The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), launched their strike in July. Their demands include linking residuals to viewership numbers, addressing bad pay for reruns of TV shows and films, and establishing ownership rights for an actor's likeness and voice when replicated by AI.

 

These strikes have extensive consequences, affecting not only the US but also prompting actors and writers in the UK to take action. Numerous shows are on hold, and film festivals like Venice and Telluride, even the Emmys have been postponed. 

 

So, what does this mean for emerging filmmakers, editors, producers, directors, actors, videographers, stylists, and others involved in "smaller" projects? It means it's time to get busy! Let's get into a few of the benefits of independent filmmaking.

 

Ownership and Intellectual Property:

When you start your filmmaking journey, you retain complete control over your intellectual property (your ideas) meaning your vision will stay as your vision. Unlike working within a larger studio framework, where your ideas might be altered to fit a certain narrative or category, independent filmmaking allows you to keep your edge.

 

Self-Distribution on Social Media Platforms:

The ability to independently distribute your work on various Video-On-Demand (VOD) platforms, such as Netflix, Tubi, and Apple TV, has revolutionised the way filmmakers reach their audiences. But as they’ve ceased production due to the strikes. Sidestepping the big boys and distributing on social media, you can connect directly with viewers who are seeking fresh content. 


Freedom and Creative Control:

One of the most exhilarating aspects of independent filmmaking is the freedom it bestows upon you. From concept to completion, you are the driving force behind every decision. You maintain creative control, ensuring that your film aligns precisely with your artistic vision. This level of autonomy can lead to richer storytelling and a more genuine connection with your audience.


Reduced Risk and Flexibility:

Due to the lack of competition right now this will allow smaller filmmakers more flexibility in their work as people will be more willing to watch indie films since Netflix and Amazon's shows will slow down in production. You can upload to any and all platforms in your own time and in your own way. In addition, making a film and uploading it independently allows you to make changes to your film at any point as you are behind every step with no studio or network criteria to follow.

 

Skill Development and Learning:

You will learn so much by making your own film on your own terms. From taking on a director's role, to set production and casting to editing sound and promoting the film. All these aspects will give you experience as a creative that will shine through your work as you’ll have an understanding for the importance every individual role has in making the film.


Profit Retention:

In the realm of independent filmmaking, the profits earned are more likely to directly return to you and your team. This financial autonomy can fuel future projects and fund the growth of your creative endeavours, establishing a self-sustaining cycle of artistic expression.

 

But might you wonder, doesn't this contradict the goal of helping writers and actors achieve fair pay?


Not necessarily. These strikes aim to put pressure on major networks and studios by halting work. By engaging in indie projects that gain popularity, you divert earnings away from major corporations, creating competition for them. Social platforms like YouTube and TikTok become the "networks" challenging the industry giants.


In a landscape where platforms like TikTok and YouTube have their merits, it allows your creation to reach many people of different backgrounds and for the film's popularity to allow it to resonate with millions. Take Rapman directed YouTube hit series Shiro’s Story for example, which successfully led to his next film, Blue’s Story, to be distributed by Paramount Pictures. 


The chance of reaching wider audiences amplifies the urgency of embracing this avenue now. Independent filmmaking isn't just a creative outlet; it can empower filmmakers and diversify and shape narratives, share authentic stories, and captivate audiences on their own terms.


So, it's time to make your best film yet, join the "strike" in your own way!

 

Written by Savannah Mathurin

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