Margot Robbie And Cillian Murphy Support SAG-AFTRA And Writers’ Strike – But What’s It All About?

Here's what you should know.

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All of our favourite shows and movies are created by talented writers and creatives. Now, those writers are facing problems that have caused them to go on strike,  prompting a number of famous faces to speak out in solidarity with them.

But what exactly caused the strike, and what effect will it have? 

With a wealth of rapidly updating information floating around the internet, it can be hard to make sense of the situation. We’ve gathered up the basics to help break it all down. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the writers’ – and subsequent actors’ – strike.

Some background info:

First of all, let’s look at who’s involved on either side of the conflict.

The two opposing groups of the Writers’ Strike consist of the Writers Guild of America, better known as WGA, and the AMPTP, the Alliance of Motion Picture Television Producers.

WGA is a writer’s union that fights for their rights all across the media, whether you write for TV, film, the radio, or publishers. However, this strike is particularly focused on Hollywood screenwriters, so that’s who the WGA are mainly representing in this instance.   

AMPTP represent major television and film studios, and top producers and executives. Think companies like Disney, Hulu, and Netflix – they’re just a few among many. 

WGA and AMPTP have always worked together to negotiate contracts that benefit everyone. However, protesters say in recent years AMPTP have began to care less about benefitting the WGA, leading to unrest between the two. On May 1st, the last contract signed by WGA and AMPTP expired.

When they met to renegotiate, things did not go well; hence, the writers’ decision to strike.

Let’s take a look at why the writers aren’t happy.


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So what, specifically, has changed?

A lot of it comes down to streaming. When network TV was popular, there were about twenty-two episodes in the average season of a show. Shows like The Office, FRIENDS and The Simpsons are all good examples. This meant writers usually worked around a total of forty weeks in a year. Because writers were traditionally paid per episode, they were on good wages that matched their creative output – and the standard of living in places like New York and L.A. 

Writers would also receive residuals for their work. These are like royalties; you receive a small amount of money if the show is sold to a network, or you might receive them periodically if the show is successful.

However, streaming has changed the game. Since platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Disney rose to prominence, the way writers work has been different; their pay, hours, and writing experience have all experienced an upheaval.

Instead of twenty-two episodes, shows are now usually spread across roughly eight episodes in a season. This means writers have less weeks of work each year, anywhere from twenty down to five – and a much smaller pay check. They also aren’t receiving residuals anymore because once a series is sold to a streaming platform, they’re essentially cut off. Many writers have had to find other ways to make ends meet, like taxi driving and food deliveries.

Right now, it’s not that writers are asking for more episodes, but for AMPTP to keep the pay fair when they’re working just as hard, but over less hours and for a condensed format.

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On top of this, the AMPTP want to bring writing rooms down from about fifteen writers working on a project to nearly two. Not only would this put exceptional pressure on writers who won’t be compensated fairly, but it will effect content, and diversity, massively.

The writers’ room is designed to ensure that the content we receive is not only entertaining and has substance, but is representative of diverse communities.

Cutting down on writers will mean losing out on important elements of the shows and films that we love.

Another concerning consequence of AMPTP’s ideals is that it will be near impossible for entry level writers to break into the industry. If writers’ rooms have less than a handful of contributors, where does that leave writers who are just starting out? How insular will the the world of screenwriting become? 

Where do the actors come in?

SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. As a fellow union for workers in the entertainment industry, they’ve been supportive of the WGA strikes for some time; now, they’ve decided to join them, announcing an actors strike on Thursday.

This comes as their own negotiations with AMPTP broke down last week, over discussions about streaming and artificial intelligence. SAG-AFTRA are asking for actors to be protected “against the unauthorized use of their voices, likenesses and performances.” They also want to ensure that actors will be fairly paid as compensation has been “eroded” by streaming services.

Many actors and entrainment industry faces have come out in support of both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. On the pink carpet for Barbie The Movie, Margot Robbie shared that she’s “absolutely” standing with them: “I very much am in support of all the unions”.

Cillian Murphy shares the sentiment, and will not appear at the Dublin premiere of Oppenheimer in protest.

Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Jason Sudeikis, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Chastain, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jamie Lee Curtis are among hundreds of others who have been vocal about supporting the strikes.

We need our brilliant writers and actors; without them, we lose the entertainment that makes our lives richer.

Here’s hoping that the strike leads us in the right direction.

Words by Aoife CodyKane and Alicia Maxwell.