Canadian film and television officials are feeling the pain of the twin attacks by Hollywood writers and actors.
Derek Baskerville, a Vancouver-based company who rents costumes primarily for U.S. film shoots, said he laid off part-time workers last week and cut other staff’s hours as jobs dried up.
Karin Martin, an agent in Toronto, said many of her clients hadn’t worked since the winter as US film companies cut orders in anticipation of a hiring move.
She represents production designers, cinematographers, line producers and other people working behind the scenes. She said many people are now “frightened and in danger”.
The Writers Guild of America was fired on May 2nd, and the Actors Guild SAG-AFTRA went on strike last Friday.
While this is a U.S. labor dispute, the strike has affected U.S. films and series shot in Canada and employing tens of thousands of local staff and talent.
“These are my family, all the people I represent, and they’re scared,” says Martin.
“Every day, my phone is not with producers trying to book people. My phone is with clients I love and adore, but they’re scared. They are in danger.
In Vancouver, Baskerville said he fired one of his part-time workers because he couldn’t afford to pay them. He reduced his two other part-timers to one day a week, and two full-time workers from five days a week to four. One of them is he works 6 hours a day instead of 8 hours.
“The last four years have been really bad for all of us in the gig economy, and some of us didn’t survive the pandemic and this,” Baskerville said.
“This is quite exceptional, even for me, in my 40-year career.”
He says he was lucky to have paid off his mortgage and had personal savings.
“Three of my colleagues are deferring mortgage payments…and two of them are also in talks with the city to defer property taxes for a year,” Baskerville said.
“One of my colleagues had to take his children from daycare to summer camp because he doesn’t have money.It’s summer now.The kids want to go to camp.I can’t do it this year. “