Beginning of the workday at Longcross Studios in Surrey, where cast and staff would ordinarily be hard at work shooting the most recent Mission: Impossible movie.

The eighth installment of Tom Cruise’s blockbuster franchise is currently at a standstill as the Hollywood actors and writers strike enters its 17th week when The National paid a visit to the film and television production facilities.

After their demands for improved pay and safeguards against the future use of artificial intelligence in television and movies were not met, the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) went on strike at the beginning of May, which is when the conflict started.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, also known as SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 performers, including A-list celebrities, then adopted a similar strategy.

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The two unions are striking together for the first time since 1960, when the WGA once more took the lead and was joined by SAG, which was then led by Ronald Reagan, the future president of the United States, and reached an agreement with the studios for better salaries and pensions for his union’s members.

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The army of employees who labor behind the scenes to bring the magic to life have also been left in a state of limbo as a result of the strike, which has obstructed the flow of fresh work from performers and authors.

The strikes have had a particularly negative impact on the UK, the third-largest film production hub in the world, since thousands of workers—almost all independent contractors—have been laid off.

Equity, the performing arts and entertainment trade union in Britain, has protested in solidarity of its US counterpart but is unable to strike because of regulations that prohibit “secondary action” that supports other walkouts.

The strike has had an effect on a variety of employees and suppliers in the international film business, from costume designers to electricians and caterers.

According to a Longcross staffer who spoke with The National, the new “much quieter” roads would typically be busy with film crews.

Aerial photos show the abandoned Wicked movie set at the Ivinghoe Movie Lot in Buckinghamshire, while Pinewood Studios is rumored to be “empty” following the end of Deadpool 3 filming.

Charlotte Sewell, an associate costume designer who has been based at Longcross while working on Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, is one of those impacted by the strikes.

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Her work week has been reduced to one day as a result of the strike regulations, which allow her to prepare costumes but prohibit her from interacting in any way with actors.

Following the “real shock” of hearing they were being let go, Ms. Sewell told The National that “morale is pretty bad” among her film business peers.

“Everyone was just reeling from it,” she remarked. “People were crying and asking themselves, ‘What am I going to do?'”

Because they entered the profession at its height and have never experienced a day off of work, those who haven’t been in it that long say it’s really hurt them emotionally.

The summer is the season with the highest earnings of the year, and the strikes coincided with the arrival of the “nasty” tax bill in July, she said.

Ms. Sewell sympathizes with the writers and actors despite the financial costs of the strikes.

They wouldn’t have made a hasty choice. Actors only want to work. The last thing they would want to do is go on strike since their egos need them to work and they enjoy what they do.

“We need a quick solution. However, we are all aware that they are up against major studios in their struggle for better terms and conditions.

Due to the strike, Duncan Broadfoot, a 41-year-old supervising location manager with 20 years of experience, is not working.

Film crews from all over the world have made up a sizable portion of the collateral damage caused by strike action, he claimed.

It was reasonable that attention had been paid to the effects in the US, but “the ripples are being felt all over the world.”

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According to Mr. Broadfoot, this strike’s effects are considerably more noticeable in the UK than they were during the previous one in 2007, when authors went on strike for 14 weeks.

“There’s a bigger effect this time,” he added. “The film industry wasn’t as developed as it is now and it’s terribly dependent on US studios now.”

Although the remuneration for those working in the film industry can be rather lucrative, this is offset by the unstable nature of the work and the fact that people must pay their own National Insurance and pension contributions.

Thanks to considerable tax benefits and the easy access to a skilled and experienced crew, the British film industry has enjoyed recent success.

According to data from the British Film Institute, Hollywood’s investment of £5.37 billion ($6.78 billion) in 2022 allowed firms to thrive, including FBFX, a provider of special effects outfits to the film and TV industry that employs about 70 permanent and freelance personnel.

The National quoted 54-year-old director Grant Pearmain as saying, “At this point, we would be expecting to book new work in and starting new projects, but obviously none of that is happening.” He added that business had been quite active for several years.

“Continued progress is the goal. Over the past 30 years, we have faced many difficulties, but like every firm, there are limits to how long you can survive without money.

Mr. Pearmain, who is married, has three kids, and owes a mortgage, worries about the worst.

People would lose their homes and their businesses, he said.

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Some professionals in the field have expressed concern that if the situation persists too long, their careers may end. Everything might collapse. Nobody has a safety net; there is none of us.

After nearly 40 years in the industry, Vince Jordan, who owns Crew Catering, may no longer work in the motion picture industry as a result of the strike.

Normally, he would hire about 50 people to work on a movie, but now they are being pushed to find other sources of money.

“I’ve personally never experienced anything like this – it really is bad,” he said to The National.

“I’ve already lost two jobs, and I don’t think I’ll get another one this year,” I said.

“My wife and family have advised me to stop doing it for years, but the movie business is like a narcotic. I’m retaining the business until I turn 60 this year, at which point I’ll pass it on to my sons. It’s plenty for me.

In comparison to the same month last year, there was an 800% increase in applications to the Film and TV Charity’s hardship fund as a result of recent experiences of those working in the film business.

The charity has added £500,000 ($630,000) to the fund and distributes donations in the range of £500 ($630) to £750 ($948).

According to some estimates, as many as 10,000 people have been impacted, said Spencer MacDonald, national secretary of the Bectu union, which represents employees in the film, television, and theater industries.

“The other day, when Pinewood Studios should have been bustling, it was quiet and everything was shut up. Tumbleweed was blowing through it.

He said that there was a “real danger that those with transferable skills will leave,” dealing the UK film industry a devastating hit at a time when it was trying to hire 20,000 new employees to grow over the next five years.

There are worries about the strike’s long-term effects on the financial stability of the film industry in addition to the obvious worries about the safety of the sector’s workers.

Tim Richards, the founder and CEO of Vue theatres as well as the chairman of the BFI, claimed that Covid had caused a supply problem in the sector.

The timing of the writers’ strike and now the actors’ strike, he said, has been quite bad. “Our post-Covid recovery was certainly slower than anyone in the industry was expecting due to supply issues,” he said.

“We’re looking for a speedy resolution to both because fresh movies are what this business and our fans need because audiences will show up when the movies are available. When Barbie and Oppenheimer premiered, we had our best week ever in the UK and Ireland for Vue admissions.

Ms. Sewell is currently waiting every Thursday to hear if there is enough work to warrant her attendance at Longcross. “The one day I have each week is hanging by a thread,” she remarked. These are worrying times.


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