SAG-AFTRA just made a big change to which projects and producers can sign its interim agreements, terms by which hundreds of projects have already agreed and put a handful of actors back to work.
The actors guild announced Monday that, on the advisement of the writers guild, it will now exclude WGA-covered projects produced in the U.S. from signing the interim agreements. The WGA thus far has not granted any interim agreements, meaning that there’s been no development or writing on projects, even those from independent producers.
“We have been advised by the WGA that this modification will assist them in executing their strike strategy, and we believe it does not undermine the utility and effectiveness of ours. It is a win-win change,” SAG-AFTRA wrote. “This means that, going forward, for productions taking place in the USA, SAG-AFTRA will only grant Interim Agreements for non-WGA-covered projects. And our staff will continue to investigate each application for an Interim Agreement to ensure only true independent productions are included.”
The guild did not specify that WGA-covered films already been deemed eligible for interim agreements will now be rescinded, and a SAG-AFTRA rep did not respond to a request for comment clarifying that point. Companies such as A24 or MRC (neither of which are AMPTP companies) have already signed the interim agreement for specific projects, and other movies, such as a Guy Ritchie film, have agreed to casting-specific interim agreements.
It’s also unclear if WGA-covered movies set to premiere at the fall film festivals like Toronto and Venice will also now not be eligible for the interim agreements. With the exception of indie films that have signed the interim agreements, actors are barred from promoting work made with struck companies. A handful of movies, like Luc Besson’s “DogMan” and Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” were granted permission to promote their projects at the festival after signing the interim agreement.
“We created the Interim Agreements for several reasons, all of which are aimed at protecting the interests of our members and members of sister unions, so that journeymen performers and crew may continue to work and pay their bills while demonstrating to the AMPTP that independent producers are eager to work with our members under these terms,” SAG-AFTRA continued in the statement. “The strike action is evolving each day. We are adapting in real time to continue protecting our members while collaborating with our sister unions in fighting for our common cause.”
With the WGA not granting any interim agreements, SAG-AFTRA’s interim agreements have been controversial. Sarah Silverman publicly called out actors working, even with the interim agreements, as scabbing, and she later softened her stance after a conversation with SAG-AFTRA leadership Fran Drescher and Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
The guild since then has referred to the interim agreements as a “vital part of our strategic approach” to negotiations with the AMPTP and shouldn’t be considered “waivers” or a free pass. Producers must agree to the same terms proposed to (and previously rejected by) the AMPTP. Those include a streaming revenue-sharing proposal that, as Crabtree-Ireland previously clarified to IndieWire, would require the studios or streamers to agree to those terms if those movies or shows were acquired for distribution and platformed while the strike is still ongoing.
Movies that have been granted interim agreements thus far have been those in the midst of production or scheduled to start shortly after the strike began. And Crabtree-Ireland previously told IndieWire that the guild continues to receive a steady stream of applications from independent producers looking to agree to the terms.
The news about the change to the interim agreements comes as the WGA is mulling the latest counter-proposal from the AMPTP, bringing the two sides back to the table for the first time since over 100 days ago when the writers strike first began.