No filming in Georgia? TV, film workers union says nationwide strike to start Monday

ATLANTA — More than 60,000 film and television crew members, including thousands in Georgia, are set to begin a nationwide strike on Monday if a deal isn’t reached for fair and safer working conditions.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees International President Matthew Loeb said Wednesday that the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

IATSE union voted last week to allow Loeb to authorize a strike.

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The union wants an agreement to be reached on rest and meal periods and pay for its lowest-paid workers. Loeb cited a lack of urgency in the pace of negotiations for setting Monday’s strike date.

“Without an end date, we could keep talking forever,” Loeb said in a statement. “Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”

The strike would shut down production not only in Hollywood but on every TV show and movie filming in Georgia right now. The industry was starting to recover and return to work after the pandemic and COVID-19 outbreaks shut down sets.

IATSE members include cinematographers, camera operators, set designers, carpenters, hair and makeup artists, animators and many others.

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A metro Atlanta film worker agreed to speak with Channel 2′s Justin Wilfon but requested his name remain anonymous. He says the workers want to get paid more and not be forced to work excessive hours anymore.

“Some of them have dealt with divorce. Some of them have regret on missing key moments in their children’s lives. I’m actually expecting my first kid in February so it’s starting to hit a little closer to home,” he said.

Wilfon also spoke with Kate Fortmueller, who is a UGA assistant professor of entertainment and media studies. She said film crews often work 12-to-14 hour days.

“Sometimes the success of a strike relies on kind of the general population supporting the cause for workers and I think the stories about these hours are appalling and grueling,” Fortmueller said.

IATSE members are getting support from others in Hollywood. Seth Rogen, who has filmed in Atlanta recently, is one of the many actors coming to the defense of film workers on Twitter.

“Our films and movies literally would not exist without our crews, and our crews deserve better,” Rogen said.

If the strike happens, it would be the first nationwide strike in the 128-year history of IATSE.

“The studios are pretty stubborn. So I do have a feeling that it will potentially come to everyone walking off set,” Fortmueller said.

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According to the Georgia film website, there are over 50 projects currently filming in the state. Georgia is a top pick because locations here can pass for nearly any city in the world.

The state is home to 10 studios that operate more than 75 stages. Two of the largest stages in the country are in Georgia.

Georgia also has 165 camera-ready communities where liaisons connect film and TV projects with local expertise and support.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.