Film and television production around New York is set to come roaring back, after the union representing Hollywood actors reached a tentative agreement Wednesday with major movie studios to end their months-long strike — finally giving an economic lifeline to the thousands of workers who rely on the industry.
Fran Drescher, the head of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), announced the agreement on social media late Wednesday night, hailing the hard-won gains for actors as a result of the agreement.
“We did it!!!! New ground was broke everywhere,” she wrote on Instagram. “Thank you SAG member (sic) for hanging in a holding out for this historic deal.”
Actors first walked off the set on July 14, when they joined the Screen Writers Guild in striking against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (the conglomerate composed of the film industry’s biggest studios).
Around 14,000 people that were directly employed by film companies in New York City lost their jobs as a result of the strike, according to a recent study.
Even worse, in New York, which is a major hub for the film industry, over 185,000 people relied indirectly on movie and television production for work in 2019 — working in adjacent fields like equipment rentals, food catering, logistical management, and more. When the strike began, it delivered a severe blow to those employees.
Upon the announcement of the new deal, Mayor Eric Adams lauded the return of film production in the Big Apple.
“As New York City sets an all-time high jobs record and enters a new chapter of our recovery, the film and TV industry remains critical to a strong, inclusive economic future for our city,” Hizzoner said in a statement. “We are thrilled to hear that SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement that would allow thousands of small businesses and 185,000 New Yorkers to get back to work with good jobs, fair wages, and strong protections that will allow the industry to continue to grow and thrive.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul also praised the deal, noting the billions of dollars in economic benefits given to the state as a result of films and television shows shooting in New York.
“New York’s film and television industry is critical to our state’s economy, creating 65,000 jobs in the past year and $35 billion in economic activity over the past decade,” the governor said. “It’s my hope that productions can resume and this critical economic activity can continue.”
While some industry insiders warn that filming in New York City may never return to full strength, the news is undoubtedly positive for the workers left in the dust by the strike.
“This industry is a powerful economic engine and a key source of good-paying union jobs, and I hope both parties can move quickly toward a final agreement that gets New York’s film and television industry back on track,” Hochul said.
The Writers Guild settled their contract dispute with the AMPTP in late September, but actors had been holding out for a host of demands, including higher pay minimums, better benefits, and more control over the usage of an actor’s likeness in AI-generated content.
Their strike, which ended at midnight on Thursday, kept going after the writers got their new deal.
The terms of the new contract were not immediately disclosed, though SAG leaders universally claimed victory in the skirmish.
While the new contract, and end of the strike, is good news for professional actors and movie goers alike, it is also a lifeline for the thousands of people who work in the film industry, nearly all of whom were left without a job during the shutdown.