Impact on New Mexico TV and film industry as strike surpasses 40 days

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – TV and film productions are still on strike in Hollywood and in New Mexico, and there’s no end in sight. 

People who enjoy new shows and movies aren’t the only ones missing out. Thousands of workers are out of a job statewide as state officials said there were 18 projects in production, and other parts of the state’s economy are hurting. 

Studio executives’ representatives have not gone yet back to the table with the actors union, SAG-AFTRA. It’s now been more than 40 days since their strike began. 

One local union leader said the situation could now become bleak for many workers. 

Marc Comstock is an actor, and he’s a longtime member and board member of New Mexico’s SAG-AFTRA chapter, which has 1,000 members. 

“It’s not about the big movie stars and big directors. It’s about all those folks who help tell that story as well,” Comstock said. “The people that you don’t know but you couldn’t have the story without them.” 

The actors union is ready to negotiate again. 

“Right now we’re kind of in a holding position waiting for AMPTP to come back to the table,” Comstock said. 

The actors want higher pay for workers, which they say has dropped more than 30%, to make sure studios are paying actors for AI images of themselves, and more money for actors from a project that becomes a hit. 

“The broadcast model was the gold standard, but now it’s streaming,” Comstock said. 

He said with all the activity in New Mexico, like with Netflix and NBC Universal, workers should be able to make a living. 

“The opportunities have skyrocketed and actually made it a viable career in New Mexico vs. a well-paying hobby,” he said. 

As the strike goes on, the strain on all workers – not just actors – increases. 

“It’s all sorts of impacts. Do you have to get another job until this is over?” Comstock said. “It could be very bleak. You’re going to have a lot of people probably leaving the business and looking for something that can pay the bills or people downsizing, or moving in with family.” 

State officials have said it will hurt our economy. 

“Hotel rentals, dry cleaning, caterers. The film industry had a $700 million direct spend into the economy last quarter,” Comstock said. “That has a ripple effect.” 

As the strike began, some studio execs reportedly said they’ll wait until workers start losing their houses to come back to the table. 

“It’s so disheartening,” Comstock said. “I think that actually helped unify everybody, both in the writers guild and SAG-AFTRA.” 

Comstock said it’s tough to say when the two sides may reach an agreement. The talk among union leaders is that everyone should be prepared for two to six more months. 

The writers union, which has been on strike since May, is currently in negotiations with the TV and film studios.