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How will the SAG-AFTRA strike affect the UK entertainment industry?

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If you asked most people in UK industry how business is going at the moment, they’d probably tell you it’s painfully slow. It was supposed to be a boom time for production, but this summer, a US writers strike combined with a cost-of-living crisis has ruthlessly squeezed both unscripted and scripted projects.

As the clock ticks down this week in talks between SAG-AFTRA and Hollywood’s collective bargaining body, the Union of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the prevailing thought will be: Could this all be getting worse?

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multiple british actors type They have not received any guidance about their situation from the local screen actors’ union, Equity, said in an interview. This is probably because it is calculated in real time. Fairness Secretary Paul W. Fleming has held discussions in Los Angeles with SAG-AFTRA, which is optimistic about negotiations with AMPTP. (He will also visit New York to meet with Drama League Actors Equity.)

in a Member video update on June 23“We stand firm and we will reach a groundbreaking agreement,” President Fran Drescher said. The union’s contract expires at midnight on June 30, but talks are believed to be likely to be extended After that date in order to reach an agreement and avoid strike action.

Fleming meets weekly with American counterparts, says type He’s in town to “figure out what we can do to support our sister unions in the U.S. — the Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild of America — and how we can ensure the message of their advocacy has the greatest success Chance. “

London-based Equity’s 47,000 members include actors, singers, dancers, designers, directors, stage managers and voiceover artists, among others. Equity has grown in influence over the past decade as British talent has grown in popularity in Hollywood.

The myriad issues affecting American performers have resonated in Britain in recent years. Self-recorded auditions are also popular in the UK. “These are big things, but we’re also adamant that our members get paid commensurately for their work and leverage that pay in new media — those are very, very strong shared positions,” Fleming said. To be honest, just read the SAG-AFTRA statement and they’re the exact same issues that we’re discussing with UK producers”

So, what advice do unions have for their members in the event of a strike in the United States? “No matter what happens, there will be intense dialogue between the two sides [Equity and SAG-AFTRA],” Fleming assured. “We will make sure that whatever the position of SAG-AFTRA is, it is not weakened by our position. “

If talks go well this week and trigger a strike, Equity is likely to advise its members to suspend all work governed by the SAG-AFTRA contract. A gray area – much like the case of the UK writers’ strike – could involve actors who are members of both Equity and SAG-AFTRA who have signed non-contractual contracts with “hit” companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery or Netflix. SAG-AFTRA contract. .

Last year, Paul W. Fleming, the secretary of the stock market, attended a cost of living rally in London.

Last year, Paul W. Fleming, the secretary of the stock market, attended a cost of living rally in London.

In the UK, the British Writers Guild Urgent advice to members on this specific situationThis is increasingly common as studios and streamers open offices overseas in order to develop international productions. The agreement so far is that existing writing work can continue, but new work is discouraged.

But in many ways, the job of an actor is more immediate than that of a writer. A senior talent agent in the UK, whose clients are both Equity and SAG-AFTRA members, said the spectacle of continuing to work while others gave up their livelihoods would be unpleasant.

She, who did not want to be named, said that the actors’ strike would be “very harsh” for the UK. degree of pressure.”

A well-known European actor who is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Equity hints at the unease show business faces during the writers’ strike: ‘The only thing that doesn’t get complicated [if SAG-AFTRA strikes] It was us who were on strike and didn’t have to go to work. [With the writers strike] Some productions that are still running have had to have actors go through the back door because legally we are not allowed to stop work. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. “

Max Rumney, deputy chief executive and director of commercial affairs at Pact, the UK’s producers’ trade group, agreed that an actors’ strike was “probably more comprehensive than a writers’ strike”.

“In each production, there may be one or two screenwriters [in the U.K.], but you can have dozens of actors,” Ramney said. “If one of them stands out, it can bring the production to a standstill. “

However, Ramney pointed out that while films from US studios or TV shows shot in the UK would have a “huge impact”, productions by local broadcasters or independent films in the UK should be able to continue as most do not employ US actors Actors in the union and the American Television Trade Association. “The problem arises when actors are members of both Equity and SAG-AFTRA,” Rumney said. “If you’re a British producer shooting in the UK on a Pact-Equity contract, then that’s not a problem.”

One of the key issues being raised by the executive is the exemption to SAG-AFTRA’s Global Rule One (GR1), which allows UK producers to use guild actors for local productions while waiving GR1, which outlines the “SAG-AFTRA AFTRA members are required to work under union contracts at all times worldwide.”

“SAG-AFTRA has awarded these qualifications for decades,” Rumney said.

on its websiteThe union simply stated that it expects “strike orders to include overseas production work under the Written Basic Agreement and the Television Agreement, including work done under the GR-1 Memorandum of Agreement.” No response from SAG-AFTRA Full range Request for further clarification by press time.

As to whether Equity can actually launch a strike in the UK, the union will not be able to strike in solidarity, as it is an independent union in different jurisdictions; however, it is currently in discussions around the producer group Pact and most importantly TV contracts” Prepare to claim”, the contract also applies to streaming and was last renewed in 2021. A timetable for negotiations is being developed and will take place over the next 12 months. It followed the union’s new deal for the West End, under which the union raised the minimum wage by 16.7% over 24 months (slightly below its 17% goal and considered a major success).

“The process of achieving strike mandates in the UK is much more complicated,” Fleming said. “We are prepared to use such methods, but we are nowhere near this position in terms of negotiations.”

Pact’s Rumney added that the producer group has an “academic attitude” and a “good working relationship with Equity”. “Our agreement works differently than the U.S. and it’s based on different assumptions,” the executive said.

In fact, one question both sides will soon face may be whether British industry is willing to go on strike amid the challenging economic environment. “It’s not easy at the moment because of production and material costs,” Ramney said. “People’s engagement has dropped dramatically.”

Here, Equity’s Fleming encourages members to keep the big picture in mind.

“What people have to ask themselves is, what is the short term and the long term? These are the big existential issues we are all looking at: artificial intelligence, compensation, the industrial relations framework itself, distribution, secondary payments.”

“If you want the best deal possible, rely on the SAG-AFTRA deal and the Writers Guild deal to get the best possible deal. Then yes Painful,” Fleming said. “I’m in no way belittling how painful it is, but we’re not going to cross picket lines, physically or virtually, because it’s not in your interest to do so. “

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