The Writers Guild of America initiated a strike in May of this year, pressing for increased minimum payments, larger writing teams, shorter exclusive contracts, and a reevaluation of royalty payments—demands that have diminished amid the streaming boom. The strike, now surpassing the 100-day mark, is also fueled by concerns regarding the uncertain future application of artificial intelligence.
A significant point of contention during the strike was the potential use of realistic digital replicas of actors through AI. The union warned that studios were attempting to create such replicas to use indefinitely, all for the cost of a single day’s work. Studios, however, counter that they have offered guidelines encompassing informed consent and compensation for this endeavor.
Freddy Bouciegues, a film double coordinator, expressed that while he doesn’t believe the craft will suddenly vanish, it will undoubtedly evolve and become more specialized, reflecting the uncertain landscape that laid-off professionals face in Hollywood.
Perry Santos, the owner of a catering service accustomed to serving Hollywood productions, experienced a sharp decline in demand due to the strike. He noted a stark reduction from supplying food to at least 15 sets a day to just 5, and sometimes even fewer, casting doubt on the future of his 22 employees.
The strike’s ripple effects extend beyond catering, impacting budget-conscious productions like advertisements, music videos, and some independent films, which, despite being exceptions to the strike, offer substantially lower wages than major productions. As the strike lingers, Santos faces a conundrum: retaining employees at personal cost or seeking alternative solutions.
The strike in 2007 incurred a $2 billion price tag, and experts predict that the current strike could exceed $3 billion in losses. Todd Holmes, a business administration professor at California State University-Northridge, underscores the immense economic impact and highlights the potential financial toll on both the industry and the livelihoods of those involved.