“People depend on this business”: WGA strike could impact WNYers who work on and off screen

EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Writers Guild of America went on strike against the Alliance of Motion Pictures on Tuesday, citing pay and staffing as some of the reasonings.

“A lot of people depend on this business,” Tim Clark, the Film Commissioner of the Western Region of New York told News 4. “It is show business, it’s not anything else, it’s a business so I think the studios and the Writers Guild will go back and forth for a bit, and hope there will be some sort of resolution soon.”

This is the first time in 15 years that Hollywood has gone on strike, which is putting jobs in the industry on standby.

“What happened back then was many of the shows went dark because there were no writers and nobody would cross the line,” Clark said. “So there were a lot of reruns and I predict that this summer you’ll see a lot of reruns, particularly in the television world.”

Why Hollywood writers are striking and the immediate impact

Clark says the areas that are most impacted are Los Angeles, New York City, and some areas of Georgia that have many television shows filmed there. He says the strike will mostly impact episodic television production.

“Episodic television isn’t really shot in Buffalo,” Clark said regarding if the strike will impact the local production scene here in WNY. “Now it will, if it becomes a protracted or prolonged strike, it will affect us. But at the moment, nothing is affected because the movies we have coming in, in the next few months and by the end of the year, are already written and already produced.”

Clark does point out, however, that there are people from Western New York who work in the industry who could be sitting out for a while due to the strike.

“There are writers from Buffalo, indeed there are, there are showrunners from Buffalo, there are actors from Buffalo. Bill Fichtner is one, and Christine Baranski is another. These people are going to be sitting out for a while, and hopefully, there will be a quick resolution so people can get back to work,” Clark said.

For Riley Wymer, who’s from East Aurora and works as a freelance Assistant Director in Queens, it’s uncertain what the job search and opportunities will be like, depending on how long the strike continues.

“I anticipate the summer being a little more difficult, obviously there’s not TV content and films people are used to seeing be made at this point,” Wymer said. “So I anticipate everything I’m doing to be more competitive while people are looking for work.”

Hollywood writers go on strike, slam ‘gig economy’

Wymer has been working in the industry as an A.D. for two years now and has worked freelance on films, TV shows, commercials, and music videos. His latest projects include working on True Crime, and a movie with Dakota Johnson and Sean Penn called Daddio.

He’s been spending a few weeks back in town while work has been slow and isn’t sure if it’s due to the strike or not. He says he’s in full support of the WGA strike and is glad to see public figures supporting the cause.

“Luckily for me, a lot of my work is not WGA associated, usually those are bigger shows for studios and networks so I haven’t really crossed that. I think this strike is impacting the crews of those shows,” Wymer said. “I’ll probably just get the ripple effect of those crews looking for work.”

As for crews working back here in WNY, we could start seeing episodic television being filmed locally due to the new state budget.

“If all of that is passed by the legislature this week, we will see episodic television shows in Buffalo, and that’s what could be impacted, future episodic television shows,” Clark said. “That’s why I’m hoping for a quick resolution.”

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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