Filed in: Columns
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Still in the Woods

March 8, 2008 | By

Just when everyone thought we were out of the woods , we’re back in the woods again—and the wolf is nipping at our heels.

This wolf’s name is SAG.

The writers’ strike lasted 100 days and caused financial and mental anguish for thousands of people working in this industry. Unsupported by IATSE, condemned by many workers, it tore at the heart of the community. While WGA’s motives were honorable, its tactics were wanting, and the strike mercifully ended only after DGA did an end-run around WGA and set an example for sane negotiations and a template for a settlement.

Now SAG—its contract with the major producers set to expire June 30—threatens a new strike.

What a contrast between SAG and IATSE. The IA has already scheduled talks with AMPTP starting in April, even though its contract doesn’t expire for 18 months. Yet SAG has resisted setting any formal negotiation, preferring to take things down to the wire, despite pressure from all quarters, including the public pleas of high-profile actors George Clooney and Tom Hanks.

The problem with taking things down to the wire is that it will cause a de facto strike—all the consequences of a work stoppage even if the stoppage itself never takes place.

Indeed, in some quarters a de facto strike has already started. As Jack Egan writes in this issue, studios are putting off projects they can’t complete before the June 30 deadline. And who can blame them? Why wouldn’t Steven Spielberg postpone the April 7 start of his The Trial of the Chicago 7? Who would finance a film under such conditions?

We can’t afford another hundred days of uncertainty and pain.

Let’s get out of the woods for once and for all. Or at least for the next three years.

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