Hollywood strikes halt Colorado films, leave reality TV, commercials untouched
Ripple effects of the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes are having far-reaching impacts, including here in Colorado, where the state’s film production industry is at a standstill.
The Colorado Film Commission told KUNC there are two movies slated to start production in Colorado as soon as September, but they’re both on hold because of the strikes. The film’s screenwriters aren’t union members, but their actors are members of the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG, which recently started picketing alongside the already-striking Writers Guild.
“These projects have an afterlife, which really helps promote business here,” State Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman said. “There are people who go out of their way to visit places that have been in the movies.”
The movies planning to film in Colorado plan to apply for waivers from SAG. The union began offering waivers earlier this month so that its members could act in independent films during the strikes.
The strikes will likely also hurt Colorado’s film festivals, including the high-profile Telluride Film Festival, which runs from August 31 to September 1. Zuckerman said the strikes mean they won’t be able to attract star talent, and there will be a lack of high-profile films available.
Conversely, the strikes could provide an opportunity for independent filmmakers.
“In many ways, if you're an independent, this is a fantastic time for you,” Zuckerman said. “You're normally trying to get an actor to do your independent film for a lot less money, and their agents are trying to get them to do a TV series or a studio movie for a lot of money, so they don't want to say yes to you. But if there's no work, and the actor can get a job making less money, but still money, why not put them in the independent film ?"
Film distributors and streaming services may also be more open to buying independent films and documentaries if there’s a lack of union content. Zuckerman said he expects a boost to reality TV production as well, and the Film Commission recently approved two new reality shows set in Colorado.
Zuckerman also hopes new tax incentives for film production that were passed by state lawmakers this year will encourage more production in the state overall. The tax credits become available next year.
Production workers are not overly concerned about the impacts on their work because the strikes don’t have much impact on commercial production, which makes up most of their work. Dylan Rumney runs Boulder-based production company Light Factory and has been lighting sets in Colorado for years.
“There's really not a lot of big union movies or scripted television to speak of in Colorado,” Rumney said. “It is a commercial town more than anything. That’s really our bread and butter.”
Still, Rumney’s colleagues who travel for union productions aren’t able to find those jobs and are looking for other gigs here in Colorado. He also knows union actors who are directly impacted.
“It’s not the same as one of those big union towns where it's just shut down,” Rumney said. “Everyone's still working here, but it is weird. If the country was a lake and someone threw a boulder in where L.A . is, I feel like I feel the ripples here.”
Despite the minimal impacts here in Colorado, Rumney said he fully supports the strikers and their goals, including fair wages and work protections for actors and writers.
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