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Entertainment Strikes Impact Belmont Students and Alumni

The five-month-long writers and actors’ strikes, which have shut down the entertainment industry and have been impacting some Belmont students and alumni, show preliminary signs of resolution.

With tentative agreements now in place between the Writers Guild of America and studios, Hollywood is not back in full yet. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is still on strike with no talks scheduled with the studios, according to an article in the New York Times.

WGA has been on strike since May, fighting for livable wage compensation, streaming residuals and securities against artificial intelligence use, according to an article from The Associated Press. Similarly, SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July, demanding basic pay, streaming residuals and addressing the threat of artificial intelligence, according to the an article from the Los Angeles Times.

“We're surrounded by not just writers or actors, but really everyone in the industry. I'm not a writer, actor - I'm a coordinator. It was interesting to see some of the higher up execs come down and just like watch us picket all day,” said Madison Bishop, a 2018 graduate who walked the New York picket line in front of NBC Studios.

Bishop said she joined the picket line because she’s finding it hard to get work. She was recently hired onto an independent film crew but unemployed for four months prior to finding the position.

“A lot of people don't realize for every one actor that's out of work, that's 15 crew members out of work,” said Bishop.

The rising threat of artificial intelligence to such industry workers has been a major topic of negotiation since the strike began.

Anne Marie Rocconi, a 2021 Belmont graduate, has been unemployed since May in New York. She is the set production assistant for background actors on Law and Order and is waiting for the strike to end in order to return to the position.

“The strike is really for the background actors, because what they're wanting to do is scan these actors and then use them in other films and TV shows without their consent and also not paying them,” said Rocconi. “They take all these photos and scans of them and they're not really telling them what it's for. And then paying them like a flat rate.”

Artificial intelligence is not just impacting the industry actors. It's also impacting writers.

Kieran Swart, a senior film and television writing major, believes that artificial intelligence is not going away and that it is best to embrace it.

“The genie isn't going back in the bottle, and so learning how to use AI in an ethical, proactive way as a tool, rather than as just a pure script generator is the point,” said Swart.

Lauren McNamara, a sophomore motion pictures major, said the strike could have a positive outcome for future writers and actors.

“A part of me is disappointed that there's still a lot that needs to be amended within the industry and that there are injustices occurring,” she said. “But another part of me is hopeful, because the unions have banded together and are so bent on making a change.”

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This article was written by Gabriella Mendoza.

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David Young
David Young
Dec 20, 2023

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