The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

Two Ridge students pose at prom photo booth
Festival of Lights
Remi McKim, Journalist • May 16, 2024
a total solar eclipse
Celebrating a Phenomenon
Remi McKim, Journalist • May 16, 2024

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September 24
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Strikes Abound Hollywood

The Wonderful Ways to not Cross the Picket Line
WGA Strike Member
Gia Mora and Emily Dauer

The Writers Guild of America (WGA), which represents 11,500 writers, went on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) on May 2nd, 2023. The goals are understandable as writers are not well paid or secure, which the WGA aims to change, especially with AI looming over their heads. A failure to agree on a new contract between WGA and ATMTP as well as the fact that residuals, money earned from rewatches, are only paid on account of popularity. The ground rules, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter, were simple: “writers cannot do any writing, revising, pitching, or discussing future projects with companies that are members of the AMPTP.”

Since the beginning of the strike, many people in positions of power have attempted to intimidate the strikers. Ian Woolf, a producer who worked with Lionsgate, tried to intimidate writers by speeding up and stopping just short of hitting them in his car. Writers did as writers will, and wrote about the instance. It was recounted by writers Alejandro Garza and Brian Egeston. Ian Woolf disputed this, before finally owning up to the action which caused Lionsgate to suspend him.

One studio executive was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, as saying, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

However, it did not have to go that far. On September 27, 2023, after 148 days of striking, a new contract was signed. It fulfilled many promises: increased wages and pensions, better residuals, greater health insurance, and expanded size of writing teams. As well, it tackled the issue of AI in multiple ways. Writer’s work cannot be used to train AI, as Meta has done in the past for their AI, and writers or their pay not being reduced by permitted use of AI.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFRA) began striking on July 14, 2023, in support of the WGA strike as well as coming with a few conditions of their own. These goals include a different residual contract, as it works the same for actors and writers, and security from AI replacement. While the WGA strike has recently been resolved, the SAG-AFTRA strike continues to this day.

Sean Gunn, brother of director James Gunn and the actor who plays Kirk on Gilmore Girls, talked about his minimal revenue from Netflix in a now-deleted interview from The Hollywood Reporter. “I was on a television show called ‘Gilmore Girls’ for a long time that has brought in massive profits for Netflix. It has been one of their most popular shows for a very long time, over a decade. It gets streamed over and over and over again, and I see almost none of the revenue that comes into that.”

Gilmore Girls is a Netflix staple, being the ninth most watched series across all streaming platforms in 2022, and was the third biggest when it landed on the platform in 2016.

As well, with AI on the rise, many actors are nervous about their already low paychecks being cut into nothing.

“It’s a whole mess. We need a new deal and a fair deal,” Gunn continued. “It really is a moral and an ethical issue as much as it’s a financial issue.”

Gia Mora, an actress, producer, and member of SAG-AFTRA, corresponded about the strike and its subsequent effects on her.

On benefits, Mora said, “The biggest benefit from the strike has been seeing friends. Since nearly all preliminary TV/film auditions have gone to self-tapes, I’m no longer in waiting rooms with other actors. But on the picket lines, I ran into so many actors, writers, producers, and directors I know — some of whom were striking themselves and others who were simply there in solidarity. The energy and determination were palpable, even late into the strike.”

Mora continues by saying, “I hope, however, that the strike draws attention to bigger problems within the union, which are particularly salient to me as a person living with chronic illness. The fact that 87% of SAG members don’t even make enough to qualify for health insurance — myself included — means that the benefits of membership, like access to group plans and retirement funding, are worthless in practice. Not only are actors expected to be available for (unpaid) auditions and bookings, but they’re also expected to have second and third jobs just to survive. What’s worse, the lowest earners pay 3% of their income in union dues, while the highest pay only pay 1%. It’s a regressive system that disempowers the greatest number of laborers and essentially ensures that only the economically privileged can afford to act. Sadly, I don’t think this is what the movement intended when fighting for workers’ rights.”

With the released WGA summary of the new contract, better health insurance seems within reach, but Mora is right that it is not as central a focus as other issues.

In relation to Mora’s career with respect to the strike, she responded by saying:

“I doubt the strike will have a great effect on my career in specific — other than bumping up day rates and residuals — but I suspect it will profoundly affect the lives of background actors. I cannot imagine the studios conceding to the union’s demands on the use of AI. The technology is simply too successful at creating virtual settings that don’t require physical sets or real people in non-speaking roles. Given that this technology is also more eco-friendly, there’s no reason to believe it won’t become the norm.”
Mora ended the interview by reiterating that she is proud to be a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actor’s Equity Association and has been on the picket line in support as much as her body can allow, demonstrating great commitment to the cause that she believes in.

Many productions will be affected by both strikes, and it is important to remember why these associations felt the need to strike in the first place before becoming angry that another season of a beloved show won’t be out for another year.

However, this is a great time to expand a great number of people’s worldviews in more than one way.

There are still a wonderful number of foreign TV shows and movies that are watchable without the guilt factor of supporting the covetous platform owners.

Korean Dramas, like Business Proposal and King the Land, are hilarious and romantic, with a large collection of them on Netflix for browsing convenience.

Anime offers a wide variety of art styles and amazing voice acting to entertain. Cowboy Bebop and One Piece are classics while Attack on Titan is a newer anime that has garnered a large audience.

Spanish telenovelas are rich in drama and suspense. These elements can also be seen in Spanish TV series like The Elites and Money Heist, two prominent shows on Netflix.

The success of Skam, a Norwegian teen show, has caused many remakes in different countries, but the original remains a well-made and entertaining show that many should watch.

It is possible to expand a person’s mind by supporting the SAG-AFTRA strike while also learning more about other cultures through media made abroad, in a win-win scenario.

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About the Contributor
Remi McKim
Remi McKim, Journalist
Remi McKim is a junior and this is her third year writing for the newspaper. She is the Vice President of the Student Government along with officer positions in five other clubs. She spends the majority of her time reading books and watching shows and movies- and even more time dissecting them.

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