Local actors, studios eager to get back to work after SAG-AFTRA strike ends

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The end of the SAG-AFTRA actors strike means a lot of production will start to ramp up across the country and right here in New Mexico. 

During the six-month writer and actor strikes, everything was paused – so now production processes are ramping back up.  

“Actors, directors, writers, producers, they all have their plane tickets, and they are arriving to start scouting, start getting production rolling,” said City of Albuquerque Film Liaison Cindy McCrossen. 

McCrossen says the city is excited to get back to work following the strike. 

“We have a couple of productions that are, are very close to being able to get cameras on set before the end of the year. The in-coming shows will need about six weeks to do their preparations, to build sets, to get costumes together, to finish their casting. And so it’s more probable that the second week of January, we’ll start seeing more cameras rolling here in Albuquerque,” said McCrossen. 

She says while the city doesn’t know exactly how much money was lost during the strike, they can see the impact through other measures. 

“[The] film office typically would have in a fiscal year 450 to 500 permits. And, this last year, we’re just a fraction of that, probably one-fifth of the activity that we would normally see,” said McCrossen. 

The Albuquerque Film Office is excited to get back to work and so are actors. 

“It’s been a long 118 days of being on strike. So, I get to do what I love, and I get to do what I love in a much more preferable situation,” said Actress and New Mexico native Gabriella Surodjawan. 

The exact details of the deal aren’t known. But, SAG-AFTRA says it’s worth more than $1 billion and includes pay increases, consent protections for the use of AI, and a “streaming participation bonus.” 

“I think a lot of people sometimes don’t realize that the film industry is about so much more than just actors. It’s also about so many other people, you know, it’s about people who work in hair and makeup and food, and hospitality industry,” said Actress and New Mexico native Audrey Morrison. “So, it’s actually a really big industry for all of New Mexico. Last year alone, it brought in $855 million for the state. So it’s a big deal for the whole state that this contract has been achieved.” 

“I recently starred in Stranger Things, and we filmed all of my scenes here. I love working throughout Albuquerque, and so we’re super excited. It’s huge for us, we can do so much more in our community and help our community with that, and so I’m overjoyed that we get to continue to work through Albuquerque,” said Surodjawan. 

For talent agents like Carissa Mitchell, the end of the strike means she’s starting to contact all of the actors she represents. 

“It means I’m tied to my computer. Again, it means I’m making phone calls, I’m making sure that all of my actors have all of their materials up to date, their headshots, their resumes, all of their clips are ready to go that I can submit them and pitch them for roles,” said Mitchell & Associates Talent Agent Carissa Mitchell. “I’ve heard that there is just massive amounts of projects just waiting for this strike to be over to come to New Mexico to start shooting. So, we’re bracing for impact right now in a really exciting way.” 

While the strike ended Thursday morning at 12:01 a.m. not everything is set in stone. SAG-AFTRA’s board and its members still have to vote to approve the agreement. 

But, Morrison is hopeful it’ll be approved quickly after the union’s Negotiating Committee unanimously voted for the agreement. 

The New Mexico Film Office is also excited to get back to work. 

NMFO Director Amber Dodson sent KOB the following statement:

“We are thrilled to see that SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have reached an agreement and productions may commence work soon.  Our pipeline of projects indicates a very busy stretch ahead.  We are excited to share more announcements as productions start up in the coming weeks and months.  

We are especially pleased for the film workforce, and the hundreds of small businesses and industry vendors throughout New Mexico who may now see a resumption of industry spending in time for the holidays. “