Charlie Kaufman is calling out Disney CEO Bob Iger over his strike response.
Iger initially argued the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are “very disturbing” and “disruptive” to Hollywood post-COVID. The studio executive also claimed that the salary demands from both unions are “not realistic.” Iger later added that he has “deep respect” for creatives amid the AMPTP negotiations.
Oscar winner Kaufman reacted to Iger’s statements during an interview with Variety while at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
“I’m wondering if his salary is realistic,” Kaufman said in response to Iger. “I think saying something like that, from the position he’s in, is cynical. Or dishonest.”
As for studio executives as a whole, Kaufman continued, “I think they grasp it. I think they know that their money comes from other people not getting money…It’s disgusting, because they don’t do anything. No, they do damage is what they do. They do damage to the art form. And by doing that, they do damage to humanity. And if everything is about the bottom line for them and saving money, then there’s nothing left to the art form.”
He added, “(Studio heads) are not ushering in any kind of beautiful work by their presence. They’re kind of doing the opposite of that. And I think it’s evidenced in what Hollywood produces, and how the more expensive a movie is, the less value it has to the culture.”
Instead, Kaufman argued that filmmakers would be “(better) served by more places that aren’t under the control” of major studios, like indie films.
As for the ongoing debate over the use of AI while writing scripts, Kaufman called the introduction of that dependency on technology an “extraordinarily dangerous slippery slope” for writers.
“Once it’s gone down, there’s no return,” he said. “It’s the end of creativity for human beings, is what it’s going to lead to. It’s handing it over to a non-sentient, non-feeling, non-rebellious entity….If we stop creating ourselves, then we’re giving up something…that’s primal, that’s essential, that’s been part of human experience — and necessary to human experience — as long as there have been humans. Since there have been cave paintings. It’s an urge, a desire to express the experience of being alive.”
Kaufman summed up, “I don’t think it’s a lesser urge than eating or sex or anything. I think it’s primal. If we don’t understand that it’s primal, and if we’re taught that it’s not, then I’m afraid for us.”
The “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” screenwriter previously said that the only films that studios greenlight are “garbage” and that AI will just keep making “shit” movies if given the chance.