The strike by writers and actors in the U.S. is starting to impact the Manitoba film industry.
As the Writers Guild of America strike enters its third month, and since the Screen Actors Guild joined the picket line two weeks ago, projects slated for Manitoba over the next few months have ground to a halt.
Rod Bruinooge, interim CEO of Manitoba Film and Music, said in any given year, 60 to 65 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from American productions that employ local workers and actors.
While Canadian productions have filled some gaps left by striking workers, productions that yield the most work and revenue often take months to be greenlit and come from south of the border.
“Those individuals that make up our impressive cast and crew here in Manitoba, they are going to be seeing less work in the coming weeks and months, as long as the strike goes on,” he said.
The dual strike is the first time the two entities have walked the picket line together since 1960. The WGA is demanding higher wages as streaming is negatively impacting Hollywood’s bottom line, while SAG members are asking for that and increased residuals for their appearances in shows and films.
Manitoba IATSE union president Nicolas Phillips said he has no work on film sets scheduled in the near future, leaving thousands of employees out of work.
The Manitoba film industry made a comeback in 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic with the province’s film, television and video production generating just over $159 million in 2021, Statistics Canada reported in March.
Phillips said the longer the holdout, the more damage the Canadian film sector will sustain.
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“We cannot see this strike go on for eight months to a year,” he said.
The union president said while he would like to see the industry at full steam to keep members working, he still supports those walking the picket line.
“They deserve fair contracts, they deserve fair pay.”
— with files from Katherine Dornian
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