Discover more from Strikegeist
Amid Summer of Strikes, a 41.4 Percent Plunge in Production
According to the county, commercial and reality TV production also sank
As the work stoppage continues, the county’s partner film office, Film LA, has issued a new report assessing the production landscape of this unusual year. In case you’re interested in the numbers…
In the third quarter — that is, July, August and September — TV drama production dove 99 percent from 1,198 shoot days during the same period in 2022 to just 12 shoot days this year, while TV comedy production tumbled 99.4 percent from 352 shoot days to a mere two. (Which, during an historic double writers-actors strike, should surprise exactly no one.) Feature film production decreased 54.6 percent to 376 shoot days amid SAG-AFTRA’s interim agreements that allowed many indie films to keep shooting.
Interestingly, even areas not hit by the scripted TV-related strikes experienced a plunge: reality TV production fell 23.2 percent and commercial production sank 25.8 percent.
“Though Commercial production is not directly affected by recent industry strikes, loss of production to rival jurisdictions is an ongoing concern,” said the film office, adding that production fell nearly 43 percent vs. the five-year quarterly average. (Apparently, L.A. really does run on Dunkin’ — alongside McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Pizza Hut, the coffee-and-donut chain was one of the major names still shooting commercials in SoCal.)
Despite the year-over-year decline, reality shows — including Basketball Wives, Real Murders of Los Angeles, Dress My Tour, and of course, Vanderpump Rules — accounted for more than 97 percent of all TV production in Q3. Leave it to Scandoval to keep local crews at work over here. (Is Scandoval still a thing? You know what, don’t tell me.)
But in all seriousness, not that anyone who’s been reading Strikegeist needs reminding, the last five months have been incredibly rough on the town. And thoughts are beginning to turn to IATSE’s upcoming contract talks in 2024, given the strong strike authorization vote in 2021 and the momentum that unions appear to have at this juncture. How much leverage the group has depends on who you ask — either quite a bit at this historic moment in labor, or perhaps less so, given how long much of its membership has been out of work.
“Sobering as these statistics are, production numbers are not the ultimate testimony of the importance of this industry to our region,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley in a statement. “There’s a deeper testimony that comes to us through stories of families, businesses, lives, and jobs affected by the present downturn.”
IATSE members, craftspeople: Many of you have written to me since May. I’d like to keep hearing from you: Has work picked up at all since the conclusion of the writers strike? Have you been asked to prepare to come back to set as studios eye production restarts, possibly in the new year? How have you been sustaining yourselves this year? Talk to me: email@example.com. Let me know if it’s all right to share your letters with our readers, either on the record or anonymously.
ICYMI: Strike News
Paramount CEO Bob Bakish expressed optimism over a potential deal with SAG-AFTRA while speaking at the MIPCOM conference on Tuesday. “[The actors] are at the table,” Bakish said. “Yes, things broke down a bit last week, but they want to be back at the table. And we’ll get there because ultimately, we all want to get back to work … I’m optimistic we’ll get there as an industry in the near term.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
$480 million: that’s the high nine-figure sum that serves as the difference between SAG-AFTRA’s streaming residual offer — $500 million — and the studios’ — $20 million. (Variety)
Deadpool 3 director Shawn Levy has shot and edited half the film, but the superhero sequel’s 2024 release date appears in serious jeopardy nevertheless. “I don’t even know if we officially have [a release date]. I know we were gonna be May 3,” Levy said. “Certainly, the actors’ strike and the long pause in production have put that release date in true risk. We’ve shot half the movie. I’ve edited half the movie. We’re dying to get back to work and get this movie out next year.” (The Wrap)
The cliché of actors working as waiters is not just a cliché these days, as many performers have had to return to the service industry without any acting jobs to be had. “Normally, you have a day job as a server, and once you get a good booking you quit,” said SAG-AFTRA strike captain Chelsea Rendon. “I feel like I’ve had a successful career and had been able to provide for myself, and all of a sudden I can’t.” (New York Times)
The American Cinematheque Awards, which was set to honor Helen Mirren during the November 4 ceremony, has been postponed due to the ongoing actors strike. (The Wrap)
Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders, a 1960s-set drama starring Austin Butler, Jodie Comer, and Tom Hardy, has been delayed from its December 1 release date as a result of the stars’ inability to do press for the film. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Additional reporting for ICYMI: Strike News by Matthew Frank.
Disclosure: Elaine Low is an inactive member of SAG-AFTRA.