This time last summer it was terrific working in the film and television industry in Toronto. More than half of the film and TV shoots in Canada are productions from the United States, and Toronto is a major hub as it stands in for iconic American cities like New York and Chicago. These projects create job opportunities for tens of thousands of professionals across the country, including performers, lighting technicians, wardrobe stylists, set dressers, craft service workers, camera operators, construction workers for set building, makeup artists, and many, many others. From Rabbit Hole to The Handmaid’s Tale to The Boys and dozens of other huge shows, American productions kept us all very busy and it was unimaginable that it would all grind to a halt a year later.
Union leaders of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are now on strike after talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke off. (The AMPTP represents employers like Disney, Netflix, and Amazon). The strike revolves around pay, benefits, and concerns over unregulated use of artificial intelligence replacing workers and performers.
The industry already took a huge hit by the Hollywood writers’ strike in May, and now with Hollywood actors voting to go on strike, the outlook for work in Toronto is not good. The strike is also expected to shut down some Canadian productions as well. Many of them are written by Canadian screenwriters but hire Hollywood actors.
ACTRA, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, is a union representing approximately 28,000 professional performers across Canada. As a sister union to SAG-AFTRA, ACTRA stands in solidarity with its fellow performers in this strike. Many ACTRA members may be wondering about their obligations if they are contracted to work on a project that continues production during the SAG-AFTRA strike. Here’s what ACTRA says:
If you are contracted to work on a project that continues production while SAG-AFTRA is on strike, you are legally obligated to continue working by your contract and the “no strike” clause (A901) in our collective bargaining agreement (IPA). You can continue to audition for work that is not an AMPTP-affiliated producer if you choose to do so.
It is important to note that as an ACTRA member, you are legally obligated to fulfill your contractual obligations and comply with the “no strike” clause outlined in our collective bargaining agreement (IPA). This means that if you are required to show up to work on a project while SAG-AFTRA is on strike, you must continue working.actratoronto.com
The productions affected include new feature films, new scripted dramatic television shows, and new scripted new media productions produced by employers represented by AMPTP.