Manitoba film industry hoping for production surge after months of actors’ strike

Manitoba filmmakers are hopeful to see production ramp up again now that the Hollywood actor's strike has officially ended. . Halifax Black Film Festival

Manitoba filmmakers are hopeful to see production ramp up again now that the Hollywood actor’s strike has officially ended.

SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative deal with Hollywood Studios on Wednesday, ending the longest strike ever for film and television actors.

Now that projects can resume, local International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) president Nicolas Phillips is hoping to see production ramp up over the coming months.

“With the strike now being resolved, there should be a few projects that will be going into prep very soon, if not before Christmas, with ramping up early in the new year. We’re hoping to see a surge by March.” Phillips added.

Though it’s not clear yet how quickly productions will be returning to Manitoba – Phillips says the industry is hoping for growth in the next two years.

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During the strike, many members were still able to work on projects that didn’t involve American actors.

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Kyle Irving, executive producer at Eagle Vision says the variety of productions in Manitoba softened the strike’s impact.

“We’ve been pretty lucky here locally in Manitoba because we have such a diversified production industry when it comes to the kind of shows we make. So we’ve been making a lot of Canadian content and some non-union work,” he says.

Irving says he estimates the Manitoba film industry was running 65 to 75 per cent of the productions it normally would, compared to markets like Vancouver or Toronto, which operated closer to 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, Phillips says the strike has been hard on IATSE members.

“Our member wages are down year-over-year of an order around 10 million dollars. So that’s a significant amount.”

He adds although members are excited to go back to work, they remained supportive of the strike.

“There’s definitely been people who have had some hardships. But our membership has persevered. The members understand overall that these labour actions were necessary, the status quo couldn’t remain.”

IATSE members in the U.S. will negotiate their own contract next year and Phillips hopes the SAG deal will set high standards that other unions can follow.

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— With files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

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