Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians in film and TV biz welcome end of Hollywood actors’ strike

People working in Nova Scotia’s television and film industry are over the moon that the Hollywood actors’ strike is over.

When local talent agent Laura Thornton learned the 118-day strike was ending, she said she couldn’t help but let out a loud cheer.

“The dinner bell has rung and everyone’s now scrambling to figure out what’s going to be filming here, and who is available,” said Thornton, owner of Anchor Talent Group.

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) reached an agreement with the group representing major production studios on Nov. 8.

This came about a month and a half after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached its new agreement, ending a 148-day strike.

Laura Thornton is the owner and lead talent agent at Anchor Talent Group. She says the end of the strikes has led to a scramble to get ready for the coming work. (Sara Jewell)

Nova Scotia took a big hit this summer, as some major U.S. productions set to film in the province were delayed due to the strikes, disrupting what was meant to be a banner year for the industry.

“We had work lined up from April until December. Everybody was excited, and then it all went away overnight,” said Thornton. “It was demoralizing.”

Shelley Bibby from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 849, the union representing film crews in the province, said the strike ending is like an early Christmas gift.

“There’s an awful lot of people that are just desperate to go back to work,” she said.

But Bibby said she’s proceeding cautiously, as members of SAG-AFTRA still need to vote to ratify the contract, and have until Dec. 5 to do so.

It’s unclear when productions will resume.

For example, IATSE 849’s website lists From, an American horror series, as “in prep” for its third season of shooting in Nova Scotia, but doesn’t list an exact start date.

More local productions 

Although the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes presented many challenges, Bibby and Thornton acknowledged one upside — more local productions because Canadian actors and writers weren’t picketing.

“It was a real great push for producers to start finding those Canadian written shows and making sure it was all Canadian casts, which in a way was really exciting, because we don’t see that as much anymore,” said Thornton.

But ultimately, they both said it’s the bigger, higher-budget U.S. productions that employ the most people — citing the need for not only film crews and on-camera talent, but things such as drivers, caterers, builders and hotel accommodations.

“These big productions can have an incredible ripple effect across our economy, and doesn’t just affect the creative sector, but all of our sectors,” said Thornton.


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