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From Hollywood to the UK: How the actors and writers strike echoes on both sides of the pond

SAG-AFTRA strike in Hollywood has reached across the Atlantic and begun affecting UK film and TV, with job losses and financial strain. The strike, initiated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the SAG-AFTRA union on July 14, revolves around issues related to insufficient payment and the potential threat of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs.

The UK, known for its robust tax incentives and skilled crew, hosts a substantial number of US studio and streamer projects. There was fear that studios and streaming services would begin outsourcing to Europe due to the strike, but Equity is firmly standing behind SAG’s actions, even standing by the decision not to issue new Global Rule One addenda during the strike. Equity is the union representing the entertainment and performing arts divisions within the United Kingdom.

High-profile productions like Wicked, How To Train Your Dragon, and The Sandman have ground to a halt, leaving local workers financially strained.

This has prompted a vital question about the deep connections between the American and UK entertainment industries. It’s become evident how damaging it is to be affected without the kind of support that actors and writers in the guilds are currently receiving. 

Freelancers and those on short contracts are in limbo due to indefinite hiatuses, while the absence of dedicated hardship funds raises worries about the industry’s stability.

At the core of the strike are concerns about residuals – payments for content reruns – and worries about AI-generated actor likenesses. These issues add to the challenges from previous disruptions like the pandemic and Brexit.

The industry spotlight from the strike has raised questions about the systematic issues. Professionals are speaking up about the persistent problems of low pay, tough working conditions, and the overpowering sway of streaming giants and studios.

But amidst these difficulties, there’s a glimmer of hope. The strike might just be the catalyst for something better. Many are optimistic that it could bring about much-needed change – better working conditions and fairer pay for all those who contribute to making films and TV shows a reality in the UK, as well as the US.


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