Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Way To GO!

Here's a surprise:

... The prospect of SAG going on strike by mid-January, just as primetime's pilot season starts in earnest, is ensuring that more broadcast network pilots will be produced under AFTRA contracts rather than SAG next year, top studio brass confirm ...

"If they're about to go on strike in mid-January, why would we not do deals with AFTRA wherever possible?" said a senior business exec at a top TV shop. "The short-term mentality of (SAG's) leadership is just staggering to us." ...

Nine months ago in Florida, a highly-placed IA rep said to me:

"If these SAG idiots get real wild and crazy, then guess what? They won't have a lot of actors under their jurisdiction. AFTRA can sign up digital productions and SAG's going to be out of freaking luck" ...

This looks to be happening right soon, if Variety is halfway correct.

... [L]ong-standing agreement has been that SAG reps all projects shot on film, while SAG and AFTRA have an equal shot at projects shot electronically, which used to translate to shows shot on video (multi-camera sitcoms, soaps, daytime and latenight yakkers, etc.).

But with most primetime skeins now shot in high-definition digital formats, AFTRA's electronic purview has greatly expanded. And in the past year, with the biz on SAG strike watch, a number of upcoming skeins have opted to go with AFTRA deals ...

The resistance among producers to shooting on digital vid rather than film has abated in recent years as the quality of high-def digital vid has improved. And in cost-conscious times, studios are unlikely to bend to the will of film purists, especially on new projects, studio execs say.

So let's go over the high points, shall we?

Point One: SAG has exclusive jurisdiction of television shows and theatrical features shot on film. And film is slowly, steadily going away.

Point Two: SAG and AFTRA share jurisdiction of shows in the digital format.

Point Three: AFTRA has no possibility of going on strike, as it's ratified it's new three-year deal. But SAG could pull the strike trigger at any time.

Which labor organization you think might be signing up more work? Which labor organization might be signing up more work into the distant future, since it is less apt to hit the streets with picket signs at an inopportune moment?

SAG throws around words like "fair" and "just" as it complains that the producers' last contract offer wasn't (isn't) good enough. To an extent, I sympathize with the guild, but I learned years ago that whining about what's fair, or "what we deserve" doesn't get you far in corporatist America. What gets you much further down the Road of Economic Justice is having the leverage to attain your stated goals.

Because every other labor group is on board with the current deal, I honestly don't think SAG has the muscle to reach its self-described Promised Land. But if it keeps threatening job actions, it could find itself in a small, hot hell of its own creation.

And what's that hell, exactly? A world where AFTRA has more working members and more contracts than the Screen Actors Guild, and SAG -- no longer the Alpha labor organization for actors -- ends up the smaller, weaker union.


Anonymous said...

Best news for IATSE and the future of animation that I've heard in an eternity.

Anonymous said...

The end of SAG cannot come soon enough.

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