As the SAG-AFTRA strike continues, could the move by the striking actors play a role in the entertainment industry as a whole?
The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is the union that represents 160,000 performers on film and television.
But many independent and lower budget films are produced not in Hollywood, but in Rochester, N.Y. That includes “A Date for Anya” produced by Paul Tracy, owner of Westwood Studios.
“I feel strongly that the folks in the union need to be supported for these strikes. It’s important that those types of projects get made,” Tracy said. “You’ll find a lot of professionals who work in the union, earn their way in.”
Tracy and his colleague Bryan Little are members of the Rochester / Finger Lakes Film Commission which provides information, resources, support, networking and collaboration opportunities for those working on films and productions.
“I believe it will, just like with any industry, you know what I mean, especially if you have a disruption, you know one of that scale, it’s definitely going to have some type of ripple effects,” independent filmmaker Bryan Little said. “And it’s going to bring productions to a halt. There are not many productions that happen here of a huge scale but I can imagine if it was how that would come into play.”
"Right now the live scene should be fine, but if this drags on six months or something, then all bets are off probably," said the general manager of Rochester's Kodak Center, Jeff Marsha.
He agrees that the longer the strike lingers, the more the industry as a whole could feel its effects.
“Big picture if a strike like this goes on a long time, those are people not writing new shows or writing new productions to go on the road and so that could have a long-term effect,” Marsha said.
Like others, Marsha believes the picketers have more at stake.
“I think the thing that’s scary and the one thing they’re holding out for is the whole AI technology where they can use the likeness of an actor's voice or image and put that in a movie and the actor doesn’t get paid or the writer does get paid,” he said. “That’s a big concern. I absolutely believe they have a point. So I support them 100%.”
So while there are mostly lower-budget independent films produced in smaller markets like Rochester, many in the industry are on the same page in supporting their colleagues and are hoping they don’t strike out.
“The idea of production being halted and types of television work are going to matter," said Tracy.
Kodak Center hosts mostly live events. Marsha says there are several unions.
What could happen, should this strike go on for a long time, unions could decide to join them on the picket line.
That could create a whole different ball game.