You might think the impeding SAG strike won’t affect us here in Canada but you would be mistaken. Sure, for families like mine with a SAG/ACTRA member, it is forefront in our minds. The writer strike is bad enough but there isn’t one big show that doesn’t have at least one star who isn’t a SAG member. This strike, although the right thing to do, will force my husband and son to stop working. If there is a SAG strike, there are no actors promoting films in Toronto so my makeup work stops as well.
The Writer’s Guild of America strike in 2008 lasted for 14 weeks and 2 days. Costing the economy of LA alone, between $1.5 billion and $2.5 dollars, depending on who you talk to, it was devastating. We were left with nothing but unscripted reality tv and zero movie production. This was not an easy time for the film industry, globally as well as my Toronto film family.
Fast forward to today. The writers have been on strike since May 2. Work immediately stopped on all the shows that my family would expect to work on. Don’t forget that the film/tv production community is just recovering from covid shutdowns. Many used their savings to get through the last few years. Most have just started to build those savings back up.
Now, the contract for SAG expired last night at midnight. We are waiting to hear what the hell is going to happen.
In the heart of Vancouver, known as Hollywood North, the murmurings of an impending Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike has struck a sombre note. The potential impact of this labour dispute on Canadians, particularly those involved in the film and television industry, could be both profound and complex.
The vibrant Canadian film and TV sector, which typically buzzes with activity, is a massive employment hub, providing jobs not just for actors, but a wide array of personnel such as set builders, makeup artists, costume designers, and caterers. A halt in production due to a SAG strike would reverberate across these ranks, leading to widespread unemployment.
For instance, in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District, Catherine, a seasoned set designer, awaits the outcome anxiously. Catherine, like many of her peers, is a freelance worker, and the mere thought of losing contracts due to a strike looms like a shadow over her livelihood.
In Vancouver, the impact is anticipated to be even starker. The city, home to numerous American productions, would see a steep decline in revenue. Hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses that benefit from the influx of American crews and actors would inevitably feel the pinch. Even ancillary industries, such as tourism – which capitalizes on the appeal of film locations – may witness a decline.
The situation becomes more complex when we consider the Canadian actors, like my husband, who are SAG members. Though the strike may originate in the United States, its waves would reach across borders, preventing these actors from accepting roles during the strike period. The impact on their income, as well as the broader cultural fallout from halted or delayed productions, could be significant.
Furthermore, Canadian viewers would feel the effects too.
The entertainment landscape has drastically changed with the advent of streaming services, and audiences expect a regular inflow of content. A strike would result in significant production delays, impacting not only the release dates of anticipated movies and TV series but potentially the quality of content as well.
Yet, amidst the anxieties and uncertainties, some see a silver lining. Independent Canadian productions, typically overshadowed by American mega-productions, could find a chance to shine. This could lead to a significant boost in the domestic film industry, potentially paving the way for more original, homegrown content to emerge on the global stage. This is our best-case scenario.
Also, to circumvent the potential crisis, many production houses are exploring the option of employing non-union actors or focusing on animation and other non-SAG influenced industries, which starts a slippery slope towards damaging the strength of the unions. These unions are the only thing standing between an actor or crew member and unsafe work conditions.
While an impending SAG strike could bring significant challenges and upheaval for Canadians, it also presents opportunities. Like a dramatic scene in one of their own productions, it will be a test of resilience and adaptability, both for individuals and the industry as a whole.