First one strike, now two. Both writers and actors are on strike in Hollywood, and the impacts of that are global.
So who are the players and what are they fighting over? And is anything being produced in the meantime?
Barbara Morgan is executive director of the Austin Film Festival – known as the writer’s festival. She stopped by the Texas Standard studio to give us a Texas perspective about what’s going on in Hollywood. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: Let’s begin with the writer’s strike since that one started first. What precipitated it?
Barbara Morgan: Well, I mean, the contract negotiation time period, you know, the contracts are coming up. And they are just, you know, things that are new now that are kind of uncharted territory. You know, a lot of different points. But the foundation is really streaming and AI (artificial intelligence).
Is the concern that writers might get pushed out of their jobs because of AI?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, there’s not really, you know, there’s no law around AI, really at this point.
So the way that it really affects this industry is who owns the creative product. And so the sort of basic things that the guild wants is that AI cannot write or rewrite literary material or create source material – that really is the writer’s job. And the digital world has entered into this in a way that has not really been considered.
And yeah, even though streaming happened, there were still some streaming back in the last strike. It was not what it is now. I mean, streaming has upended it. And so those contracts weren’t written for that. And so what’s happening is these people, though, there’s a lot more shows. They’re not on the shows for very long because they’re not doing 22 episodes.
So they’re not getting all those residuals.
And they don’t even own their work product anymore because they got those with TV, they got those with the networks, they got those with the studios, but now they’re talking about the digital world and those people aren’t paying them and they’re not part of the deal and they’re not part of the contract.
Let’s turn to the actor’s strike. Some people are saying that if this goes off into the fall, this could be catastrophic for Hollywood, especially as the holiday season approaches.
Yeah, I mean, it’s looking a little scary right now, But, you know, things are unpredictable. And I sure as heck am not a person to be able to predict it. But the reality is you really can’t make a whole lot. There’s reality TV and I don’t really watch that. So I’m a little concerned about my viewing pleasure.