SAG-AFTRA clarifies: their strike waivers mean that actors can attend film festivals

While I understand the basic concept of SAG-AFTRA interim agreements – aka waivers – during the strike, I also understand why some actors find those waivers problematic. Basically, production companies have to apply for and receive a SAG-AFTRA waiver to do anything. This also includes promotional work, which has quickly become a hot topic as studios are now in the position of admitting that they need actors to promote their films, and that the promotion boosts the box office. As such, I would have thought the “no promotion” part of the strike was one of the most important. As it turns out, SAG-AFTRA has also been issuing waivers for actors to do promotion at film festivals like Venice, Toronto and Deauville. From SAG-AFTRA:

It is for that reason we write to you now to expand on our conversation regarding the Interim Agreement. While feedback from the information sessions has been positive and we’ve received expressions of support for the strategy, there is a dynamic that needs addressing. Some of our fellow members have been subject to negative comments for participating in projects with an Interim Agreement, particularly when it comes time for them to promote their work, including at festivals. Whether from within or without our organization, not only are remarks of this nature unhelpful to performers, but by dividing us, they do the AMPTP’s work for them.

To be crystal clear, once an agreement is in place, we fully encourage all of our SAG-AFTRA members to work under that agreement AND to promote work made under that agreement. The more projects that get made with the Interim Agreement, the weaker the AMPTP becomes. So, let’s lift up our fellow performers who are out there working.

We believe that our strategy to employ the Interim Agreement is working well, and we want you to know that seeing our fellow performers go to work and promote their Interim Agreement projects, including at film festivals and beyond, is a source of pride. We are specifically striking the large studios and streamers. Those corporate entities are effectively shut down. From their executive suites, the CEOs can look out and see these independent projects thriving, while their greed and disrespect holds up their own productions.


That’s interesting that the union is saying: if your project has a waiver, get your ass on a plane to Venice and Toronto and promote the f–k out of your movie. So, with that in mind, Deadline had a piece about who will turn up at the festivals in the coming days and weeks:

Among actors we understand will be at the strike-impacted Toronto festival this year thanks to interim agreements are Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson (who also produces) for Daddio, Finn Wolfhard (who also co-directs) and some of his co-stars in Hell Of A Summer, Viggo Mortensen (who also directs and produces) for The Dead Don’t Hurt, and Maya Hawke and Laura Linney for Wildcat.

Among those likely to make the trip are Nicolas Cage for A24’s Dream Scenario, which we gather is close to finalising an interim agreement, and Jessica Chastain for Michel Franco’s Memory, which also quietly secured an IA. Memory is playing at Venice before its Toronto screening and Chastain and co-star Peter Sarsgaard are expected to be in attendance on the Lido.

We hear that Kristin Scott Thomas is a maybe for North Star, which she directs and stars in, but that co-star Scarlett Johansson won’t be in attendance for the same movie. Michael Keaton, director and star of Knox Goes Away, is unlikely but not a firm no. The same is true for Kate Winslet and her co-stars for Lee, and Bobby Cannavale who stars in Ezra. Some of these movies are likely hoping for a late in the day IA if they don’t have one already.

Among leading actors who won’t be at this year’s festival, despite having independent movies in the lineup, are Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Annette Bening, Glen Powell, and Chris Pine, who also directs his movie Poolman. Cate Blanchett stars in and/or produces multiple indie movies at the festival but won’t make it, we hear, while Anna Kendrick directs and stars in Woman Of The Hour, but we hear the multi-hyphenate won’t be in attendance.

[From Deadline]

It’s like I said in that story about Viola Davis walking away from a waiver’d film – the union can give all kinds of guidance, but some actors are going to make their own decisions about what the strike means to them. I appreciate that too – some actors still want to make the point that they’re on strike with their union and that means no promotion, end of story.

Photos of the Venice jury & the Clooneys in Venice, courtesy of Backgrid.

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12 Responses to “SAG-AFTRA clarifies: their strike waivers mean that actors can attend film festivals”

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  1. Pinkosaurus says:

    I appreciate this strategy. Instead of compromising their terms, the unions are going to try to pick off the studios one by one. I hope this works and they get exactly what they are asking for from many of the smaller producers. Those studios are going to be able to flood prime content into the void in the market, taking the profits from the @sshole corporations that are planning to starve the writers and actors out of their homes.

  2. ML says:

    “Whether from within or without our organization, not only are remarks of this nature unhelpful to performers, but by dividing us, they do the AMPTP’s work for them.”
    I don’t quite understand this in combination with the next quote:
    “The more projects that get made with the Interim Agreement, the weaker the AMPTP becomes.”
    Why does it matter if people react positively or negatively to the actors promoting their projects on waivers if the waiver supposedly weakens the AMPTP?

    • Becks1 says:

      That was a weirdly worded sentence set, I agree. Here’s my interpretation:

      People – both SAG actors and others (like us, lol) should not be criticizing those who are participating in waiver activities because that is just increasing the division among SAG and when they are divided, it will be easier for AMPTP to win. (hence the part about doing the work for them.)

      So people need to understand that by promoting the waivered work, its weakening the AMPTP because the promotion and the success of those more independent films show the AMPTP that work can get done, movies can be made and actors can promote those movies WITHOUT the AMPTP, so that weakens it.

      I think.

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      If I’m understanding this situation correctly…

      The Interim Agreement (IA) is for production companies who agree to the SAG union terms. They are willing to sign off on the terms whereas the super mega studios are refusing to sign off on the terms.

      This means actors can work with the production companies during the strike. Because the small production companies are basically standing with the unions they are allies in the strike. As a reward/thank you for the support the SAG union is telling actors to go talk their faces off about the projects that have been made under those small production companies.

      By promoting the heck out of the projects made by the smaller production companies they will 1. bring attention to the projects, 2. bring audience money to the projects (which wouldn’t have been possible pre-strike since the mega production companies drown them out with mega marketing), and 3. give the audience a variety of movies to watch instead of the endless superhero/thrill ride sequels (nothing wrong with those but the mega production houses are hyperfocused on endless sequels of the same. damn. story.)

      So by allowing actors to promote their work with production companies who signed the IA the union is able to drain audience attention and money from the mega producers.

      This is also a way to get around the complaint from people who are demanding actors get back to work so they will have something new to watch (I’ve seen some truly awful whining from people who want actors to “shut up and act” just because their brains are bored.)

      Lastly, the more IA projects there are the more actors can get in some work to help financially sustain them while they are striking against the mega producers.

  3. Jordan says:

    Will there not be a post on Selena Gomez crossing the picket line?

    • Snooker says:

      I wondered that too, and not just from Celebitchy (who very well may be planning a post since it was just yesterday, idk) but from a lot of celebrity sites. There doesn’t seem to be the coverage on it that there has been with other less-favorable actors who have done something similar. Also considering she is a huge celebrity with lots of followers and it’s a well known, well promoted show on a big platform, the exact kind of situation that created the strike.

      • Snooker says:

        Of course as soon as I clicked submit there was a post about it! My apologies Celebitchy.
        I do still think there has been less coverage on it from other celebrity sites as compared to others who have done similar, though perhaps some of the more celeb-friendly sites are slower to write something not glowing about a major celeb.

  4. Coco says:

    I side eye both George Clooney and Bradley Cooper.

    I think it is a little too convention that Amal is getting an award Venice Film Festival where Clooney movie “The Boys on the Boat” is getting its first premiere at.

    As for Cooper, it’s funny how he calls up. He goes go on a look at me PR family vacation in Vince where his movie “Maestro” is getting it first premiere and how he needs to be there to make sure the sound is ok.

    They both are very being shady in with how they are promoting their movie while trying to make it look like they are not. All the while, the average actor/actress is the ones most affected and should be the only ones given any kind of wavers.

    I also don’t think George Clooney and Bradley Cooper we’re given wavers that’s why they are being sneaky about it.

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      It is really shifty the way they are getting around the strike. I don’t care about Cooper but George should be better than this.

  5. MF says:

    I hope the actors who do attend festivals turn it into an opportunity to support the strike. They really should wear SAG-AFTRA t-shirts in lieu of the usual red carpet fashion and use the media time to talk about why actors deserve better.

  6. Concern Fae says:

    They really need a better term than waiver. It sounds shady. They should called it approved work or something.