Preloaded Production

The LA Times ran a big article this Sunday about how the studios, in a re-enactment of what happened in 2001, are ramping up production now, so they’ll have as many pictures as possible in the can when the SAG contract expires next summer. (The WGA contract ends in October but will be extended to line up with SAG’s.)

Why? Well, the article never answers that question. Instead, it seems to imply that it’s so self evident that studios would want to get as much material shot as possible before a strike, that the most basic question of all need not be asked.

Maybe it’s obvious, but to me the huge elephant in the room does bear mentioning, namely that producers are trying to get stuff in the can because it gives them an advantage in contract talks. If I’ve got a slate of pictures shot, you can strike for as long as you want dear actors and writers — it won’t affect me at all. So preloading production is essentially a negotiating tactic, a way to work the system for your advantage, and get what you want at the negotiating table. It’s not illegal, and it’s certainly not surprising, but it bears mentioning in an article that brags about how it’s based on “two dozen” interviews with producers and agents — and apparently with zero labor leaders.

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