Threat of an actors strike boosts production

April 26, 2008 7:25:43 AM PDT
Feature film production in the Los Angeles area jumped 11 percent in the first three months of the year as studios moved to get ahead of a possible actors strike.

FilmL.A. Inc., an agency that tracks on-location filming, said the increase came in comparison to the first quarter of 2007.

"The studios are trying to get production wrapped before June 30," the expiration date for the current Screen Actors Guild contract, Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said Friday.

A film shoot interrupted by a strike would a "very expensive proposition," he said.

SAG and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers held their 10th day of negotiations on Friday as another actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, waited in the wings for its contract talks to begin on May 5.

AFTRA delayed the start of its talks for a week to give SAG a better chance to complete a three-year deal covering movies and prime-time television.

Kyser said the reprieve for SAG gave many workers in Hollywood hope that there won't be a repeat of the 100-day strike by writers that brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.

FilmL.A. said TV production was making a slow recovery from the strike. TV location filming was down 45 percent in the first quarter of 2008, compared to last year, the agency said.

A key issue in the SAG talks is improved compensation for shows and movies distributed online, just as it was for the writers guild.

SAG sent a report to members on Thursday outlining why projects distributed digitally are important to actors. It said 134 million Americans - three in every four Internet users - view online videos each month.

In addition, it said that by 2010, the top 100 media companies will collect an estimated $20.7 billion a year in Internet revenue, with advertisers spending $2.9 billion annually on online video ads.

"All this adds up to tremendous opportunities for actors," SAG told members.


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