The impact of the Hollywood writers strike on New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Film industry writers are on strike, and it has the potential to impact productions all across the country, including right here in New Mexico.
But what is the strike all about?
It’s about money, but it’s also about the major shifts in the film and TV industry thanks to the rise of streaming video services like Netflix and Disney+.
“We’re asking for just a livable wage, and our jobs to be protected,” said director Cody Blue-Snider.
That pretty much sums up the positions of the Writers Guild of America.
The union called a strike over Monday night after negotiators were unable to reach a deal with the studios and streamers.
Writers for film and TV say they’re making less money today, than they were 10 years ago.
“Checks you use to get worth thousands of dollars are now worth hundreds of dollars, and that makes it harder to earn a living,” said writer Zack Stentz.
The writers say the big reason for that is how streaming has changed the industry. Deadline reports half of all film and TV writers are now employed by streaming services.
The union is pushing for streaming to pay closer to broadcast television levels. They’re also looking for regulations on the use of AI technologies to write shows and movies.
For most people, this strike means some of our favorite late-night shows are going into reruns. Scripts will also eventually run out for daytime soap operas, and depending on how long the strike last, it could lead to TV shows ending seasons early, being canceled, and movies being delayed.
The last time writer’s strike started in 2007, and it lasted for 100 days stretching into 2008. For now, it’s unclear how long this strike will last.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers released a statement over Monday night expressing willingness to keep negotiating:
“The AMPTP presented a comprehensive package proposal to the Guild last night which included generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals.”
IMPACT IN NEW MEXICO
The film and TV industry has only been growing in New Mexico. A lot of people make a living from these productions.
For example, Disney is planning on starting production on a re-imagining of the popular children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” this month. That movie is set to star Eva Longoria and Cheech Marin. It will employ 500 New Mexicans.
Just in the past week, the film office announced a new TV called “Duster” started filming in New Mexico. That show from Warner Brothers is set to employ more than 4,000 New Mexicans.
We don’t know if these productions or any others will be impacted by the writer’s strike at this point.
KOB 4 spoke to stakeholders in Albuquerque to see what this strike means for their businesses.
“Right now we have 10 clients currently going in the state, and we are opening an account for two more currently, so we have been doing well the beginning of this year was great,” said Robert Elliott Barry, owner of Back 2 One Entertainment and Prop House.
When Barry heard the strike was official, he said the only thing he can do is try to go on with business as usual
“As long as productions continue to shoot here we will continue to take care of our clients, and hopefully our clients will be able to continue to work at least within the parameters of the strike,” Elliott-Barry said.
But those parameters could get narrower as other unions join the strike in support.
“What will play a role is when the IATSE and the Teamsers and the DGA step in and say ‘we are going to strike also,’ and that will limit our ability to put a quality crew in these lower productions, which could be a hardship for us safety wise,” said Jim Burleson, a New Mexico producer.
Both Burleson and Elliott-Barry say the last writer strike lasted around 100 days and, at this point, they don’t know how long this one will last — so some are bracing for the worst
“I have a couple of projects that are set to shoot in September that are really high budget bringing in 500 New Mexico jobs. I’m hoping to be able to shoot those in September, and if this strike doesn’t resolve in the next couple of months then I’m going to have to push,” said Burleson.
But Elliott-Barry is trying to look on the brighter side
“We knew this was coming for a couple months now, and so we have braced ourselves, and hopefully we can hang out for as long as it takes for the writers to get what they need, and everybody to find a positive solution to the current situation,” Elliot-Barry said.
Burleson told KOB 4 he knows a handful of productions that were set to start filming in New Mexico this month have hit pause, waiting to start until this strike ends.
KOB 4 also reached out to the New Mexico Film Office to see if we could get an exact number of how many productions are currently filming here in the state, they did not return our calls.