Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director and chief negotiator, said today that “we remain very eager to get back to the table with the AMPTP, as we’ve said every day” since the actors’ strike began 33 days ago.
In a virtual press conference with reporters about the guild’s interim agreements, Crabtree-Ireland said, “We have been ready, willing and able to continue bargaining with them and we very much want the AMPTP to come back to the table.”
The Writers Guild, which has been on strike since May 2, resumed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Friday, and Crabtree-Ireland said “we’re happy that they are back to the table with the Writers Guild this week. Perhaps that is a sign for cautious optimism about the future of these agreements and hopefully an end to both strikes in the near future.”
He noted, however, that “that remains to be seen, as there’s been no contact by the AMPTP to SAG-AFTRA. But we certainly hope that they have come back to the table with the Writers Guild with the intent of making a fair, equitable and respectful deal for Writers Guild members, and that they’ll do the same with respect to SAG-AFTRA members.”
The guild’s interim agreements contain the same deal points that SAG-AFTRA last offered to the AMPTP when talks broke off without an agreement on July 12. “The AMPTP companies — the studios and streamers — could have signed that exact deal on July 12 and there never would have been a strike,” Crabtree-Ireland told reporters this morning.
“Interim agreements are an important part of our strategic approach to this negotiation,” he said, adding that they “provide empirical proof that the terms that we have on the table with the AMPTP are not only realistic, but are desirable and useful by producers in this industry. And we have hundreds and hundreds of applications for interim agreements from independent producers” who “find them absolutely acceptable and practical and realistic.”
As of Sunday, 210 projects had signed interim agreements, including 179 that had resumed or completed production, and another 41 that had yet to complete the approval process but were allowed to audition actors and engage in negotiations regarding casting, but not yet to allow them travel, rehearse, or otherwise render services to the productions.
After the Zoom meeting, Crabtree-Ireland said: “We urge our members to audition for projects approved under the Interim Agreement. If they appear in an approved production, they should be comfortable celebrating and fully promoting it. SAG-AFTRA believes these agreements are an important opportunity to improve the union’s bargaining position, while giving room for journeyman actors and crew to work during the strike.”
On Monday, in solidarity with the WGA, SAG-AFTRA announced that it had modified its interim agreement policy to exclude any projects shot in the U.S. that are covered by the Writers Guild. A person familiar with the new policy tells Deadline that only about 15%-20% of independent feature films covered by SAG-AFTRA also are covered by the WGA – in normal times and during the ongoing writers and actors strikes.
The interim agreements allow “truly independent” projects to film during the strike as long as they agree to be bound by the terms of whatever deal the guild eventually reaches with the AMPTP.