‘Their fight is our fight:’ ACTRA standing with SAG as strike begins

Canada’s film and Television industry is bracing for potential impacts, as dual strikes are underway in Hollywood. Faiza Amin reports on the thousands that could be affected.

By Faiza Amin and Meredith Bond

Canadian actors represented by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) are standing in solidarity with their sister union, the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), as they begin their strike in the U.S. on Friday.

Leaders of a Hollywood actors union voted Thursday to join the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) in the first joint strike in more than six decades that will shut down productions across the entertainment industry

Talks for a new contract between the union and studios and streaming services broke down earlier this week.

The impact in Canada is expected to be felt soon as the production industry is already dealing with the effects of the writer’s strike.

“The labour disruption in the U.S., which started with the writers a few months ago, had a chilling impact on the work that is coming to Canada. And now, with SAG AFTRA forced onto the pavement, it will decrease the amount of work here as well,” explained Marie Kelly, the National Executive Director of ACTRA.

Kelly said they are lucky to have a lot of Canadian productions, but they are expecting a slowdown when it relates to studio productions for the 28,000 members they represent.

As for SAG actors currently working on productions north of the border, they are allowed to finish any productions currently being filmed, but they are not allowed to take on any after the fact.

RELATED: Hollywood actors join screenwriters on strike as contract talks collapse

Kelly adds they are watching the negotiations closely as many of the issues SAG is fighting for are the same ones they are dealing with.

“Under COVID-19, [actors] were asked to come to work without any PPE and to perform on camera so that we could be at home and consume the product. There’s been a shift, as we all know, in the digitalization of our world. That means performers are getting less of their fair share out of the entire ecosystem,” explained Kelly.

She adds the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also be a key issue.

“[AI] is taking away some of their work which is mass producing performers in ways that performers would never agree to. We want to make sure that when our performers are on the screen anywhere, whether it’s a TV, at the theatre or your computer, they are properly compensated for the use of their image.”

They will be negotiating a new contract in 2024.

“We are 1,000 per cent behind SAG, and we hope that they are able to build in their collective agreement some protections that are fair for performers in this ecosystem.”

Actors within the Canadian union also showed their support Friday, holding up signs that said, “ACTRA stands in solidarity with SAG.”

“We absolutely support SAG. SAG is a strong union. The WGA is strong, and I fully anticipate that they’re going to get good contracts that will resound worldwide,” said actor Ellie Harvey.

The City of Toronto said they are actively monitoring the strike action and say for the sake of the industry here in Toronto and globally, they hope the situation can be resolved quickly.

They added Toronto’s long-term outlook remains positive as some active production will continue in the city. “That said, we acknowledge that during the SAG-AFTRA strike, there will still be significant negative impacts on local crews and production-related businesses already affected by the WGA strike.”

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) tells CityNews the impact of the strike on events like theirs “cannot be denied.”

“We urge our partners and colleagues to resume an open dialogue. We will continue planning for this year’s festival with the hope of a swift resolution in the coming weeks,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, Fan Expo, which is expected to take place between August 24 to 27, said it’s understood that individual performers are allowed to participate in pop culture conventions if they aren’t promoting major studio or streamer products, so they do not expect it to impact events.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today