By: Mike Zembowski
On Jan 8 members Canada’s actors union went on strike for the first time in 64 years and the direct impact to the Toronto production industry has been “Disastrous and Crippling,” says Don Carmody who has all future projects on hold.
“ACTRA is not thinking about the industry as a whole, long term. They are being very selfish. This strike is driving US business elsewhere and can cripple the industry.”
While ACTRA holds up production several businesses are wondering how long they can hold out before having to lay off people or worse have close up for good. Peter Lukas owner of Showline Studios in Toronto admits,
“The direct impact to Showline Studios is a $150,000 loss. We had a US production called “Shoot Em Up,” reserve all production offices and our 14K studio. The US producer suggested waiting until Jan. 8th thinking there is no way the strike will last. With no end in site, they cancelled the whole shoot and changed to Hollywood. This cost Showline $150,000.00 and no telling how much more this will cost in the future.
Rival studio owner Steve Mirkopoulos of Cinespace Film Studios says,
“The business is dead. Whatever productions that were shooting with continuation agreements are now wrapping. There are zero productions in the horizon. At the end of October there were 8 or 9 productions putting holds on our space and after speaking to producers recently they are not coming up here until after the strike.”
The strike comes at a time when the industry has steadily been declining over the last 5 years. Paul Bronfman Chairman/CEO of Comweb group explains,
“The cost to the industry is already over a hundred million and the direct impact to our company is easily a few hundred thousand of lost business.”
Brian Dwight owner of Dwight Crane says, “This year was worse than SARS, the business right now is non existent. Estimated cost is easily $500,000.00 per month. ACTRA’s methods are borderline extortion. If they all don’t smarten up there won’t be an industry.
The CFTPA is banking on winning an injunction in court and breaking the union’s strike through legal orders. CFTPA is adamant that it will force the union to accept ‘internet-for-free’ proposals. The CFTPA has not budged from that position and won’t put a different offer on the table even with the assistance of a facilitator.
Toronto once known for having the best crews in the world, are slowly loosing them to cities like Winnepeg and Vancouver that are seeing more productions.
There are currently no Feature Films shooting in Toronto and 5 television shows according to the latest production list from Toronto Film and TV office.
Will this problem come to an end relies only on how well negotiations go this week for both sides. We can only hope both sides see the seriousness of finding an answer quickly.