MZed PRO Annual Subscription Sale Extended - 40% off just this week- ONLY UNTIL DEC 2!
MZed PRO Annual Subscription Sale Extended40% off, just this week!ONLY UNTIL DEC 2
While many were excited to return to the Paramount lot for the first time since the pandemic, others were nervous. Would attending Cine Gear 2023 mean crossing a picket line?
In the weeks leading up to CineGear, there was a bit of confusion about whether or not event attendance on a lot owned by a member of the AMPTP would render said attendee a scab. A similar confusion had arisen at the beginning of May regarding another event. Right after the WGA membership voted to strike, Chanel hosted a fashion show at the Paramount Pictures lot, leaving many an A-Lister in a tizzy of to show or not to show. One month later anyone clambering to see what new tech crews would be donning in the coming year would find her way into the same ambiguity. Neither the WGA or Paramount officially released statements to relieve that stress, so that task fell to the events themselves.
First came Chanel. In a Deadline article released on the day of the show, unnamed sources relayed that Chanel exacted clarification from the WGA directly. A spokesperson from the fashion house said their chosen location was merely a rental space booked months prior to the strike at hand. “The Writers Guild of America’s labor dispute against the alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers applies to unionized Film and Television productions, not the physical property of the studio.” Despite this statement, many chose not to go, taking to social media to amplify solidarity. The 2024 Resort Collection and a good time watching other people wear clothes was not enough to put them on the wrong side of a picket line.
So…precedent set! …sort of. In my own household, we cycled through: Oh, okay! Well, wait. No, it’s fine…but what if it’s not? My father-in-law has been a member of the WGA since 1979, and we have the utmost respect for the institution. Crossing a WGA picket line is something we would never do.
As a longtime ScriptNotes podcast listener, I was grateful for the clarity provided by the episode on May 15th entitled “Sidecast: Neutral Gates,” which very clearly concluded event attendance on the lot did not make you a knobstick
For Graham—who would be covering the expo for CineD, however, it was still unclear what his obligation was as a Local 600 and PGA member. IATSE put out statements of support allying with the WGA. Local 600 and the PGA did as well. The buzz was that Local 600 chose not to have a booth on the show floor. However, they did not tell Local 600 members to refrain from attending. To add to the confusion, there was no official statement on CineGear’s website for quite a while, (which they later remedied, but it was not easy to find). Thankfully, Below the Line News and The Hollywood Reporter publicized an email from the Expo to exhibitors which included an official statement.
The statement asserted that the Expo “supports the Writers Guild of America’s fight for better work conditions, and (it is) equally important to know that Cine Gear Expo is not a ‘struck’ event. The picketing you may encounter stems from a labor dispute between WGA and AMPTP, of which Paramount is a member.” They went on to assure their patrons that they would keep traffic flow for patrons and vehicles smooth.
Accounts vary on whether or not Cine Gear was successful at conducting that traffic. It really depended on what time of day you got to the show.
When Graham checked in beyond the neutral gate, one of his first orders of business was to march right back outside and conduct an interview. He spoke with the acting strike captain Bryce Schramm and a few participants in a video you can view above.
If readers are further looking for reliable coverage of the strike, I strongly encourage listening to ScriptNotes. John August and his team put out frequent updates. There are also several episodes that go into depth about what is truly at stake for writers now and in the future. An April episode entitled “Correctable Crises” with Danielle Sanchez-Witzel is particularly illuminating for anyone wanting to understand the WGA grievance over mini rooms. She explains how the industry has changed over the course of her career with the elimination of on-set experience and post-production work for new writers.
If one thing is for certain, it is that we are living in rapidly changing times. How we create or consume entertainment and media is in such flux. Production giants have taken advantage of that instability and profited from it. They have used new viewing platforms as an excuse to get around established standards and fudge the rules. Now producers are excited to turn to AI for assets like treatments and even scripts, one of the WGA’s current concerns. What role AI will play in the future of production is intimidating— largely unknown.
This necessary pause instigated by the strike has many afraid and financially hurting. Folks from all departments have been reaching out to say they are really in need of work right now. They ask us to please keep them in mind if anything comes up.
It can be tough to hold tight, but those who hold the purse strings are not often forward-thinking in a way that will benefit most of us in the long run. That is why it is so important to steel ourselves and stick together. What these big players negotiate in these agreements will govern how those of us who work in production perform our jobs for what could be decades. For a lot of us, that will be the rest of our careers. Oh, how I wish IATSE had gone through with their strike. Maybe someday the unions standing in solidarity now will wake up and get rid of the 12-hour work day that every other industry abolished with the Industrial Revolution…
In that same spirit of someday, we watch, march, and wait for those of us who write to be fairly compensated under improved conditions.
In the meantime, I hope reps from the various guilds and unions can communicate to their memberships what actions do and do not support the statements they release. Statements are great, but action items are better. The WGA has an extensive FAQ for their membership, and the other guilds would do well to follow suit. As of June 3rd, the Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP, which at this time of this article’s writing is out for a vote to DGA members. Yet, even if that agreement is voted through, the DGA stands with the writers, as do the actors and all of IATSE. SAG-AFTRA is up next at the table and likely to strike when their contract with the AMPTP expires on June 30th.
This is a time of reckoning for the Association of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, and constancy is vital. For those on the picket line, as Graham says in his interview, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. We’re with you.
Stay current with regular CineD updates about news, reviews, how-to’s and more.
Want regular CineD updates about news, reviews, how-to’s and more?Sign up to our newsletter and we will give you just that.
Rin is a writer, director, and editor in California. She is the Creative Director of Stand Up 8 Productions.