Netflix has invested in film and television production in an array of countries in a move that could help it endure a strike by actors and writers in Hollywood
BECTU will conduct separate strikes on October 4 and October 5 to safeguard the future of UK film and TV crews. AFP News

In the fallout of the SAG-AFTRA strikes in the US, British film and television crews have taken bold action, protesting against unemployment.

The latest addition to the actors and writers strike is the UK film and TV crews declaring they would stage a protest at the opening night of the British Film Institute's London Film Festival (LFF). The film festival is scheduled to open at the Royal Festival Hall in London on October 4.

In an Instagram post, BritCrewStories called the UK film and TV crews to join the strikes in the US by staging a red carpet demonstration at the London Film Festival between 5 to 10 p.m. UK timezone. This is a notice to the UK entertainment industry that British film and television crews are also suffering.

The red carpet demonstration is platformed by BritCrewStories which brings together several grassroots-level artists, writers and actors from the UK entertainment industry. They have termed these protest events as "Crew Call for Change".

A statement from Crew Call For Change highlighted figures from the UK Creative Industry Union, Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematography and Theatre Union (BECTU) to explain their position.

According to Bectu figures 80 per cent of UK film and television crews are directly affected by the SAG-AFTRA strikes and 75 per cent are out of work, said the Crew Call for Change statement.

They further elaborated on the struggle of the British film and television crews as 35 per cent are having a difficult time making ends meet while 15 per cent have already resorted to loans to survive. A quarter of the people from the UK entertainment industry are planning to leave the sector due to the ongoing instability.

The protest is not a criticism of the film festival

BritCrewStories underlined that the event will take place in full view of the opening night film Saltburn by Emerald Fennell. However, they made it clear that this red carpet demonstration wasn't a criticism of the London Film Festival.

"This is not a protest against the festival (we love the festival)", said the Crew Call for Change statement.

The BFI on the other hand has stated that they anticipated protests from the UK film and television crews in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA strikes. The organisation has said that they respect the "right to peaceful protest" and such protests are a common thing at most film festivals and media events around the world.

The BFI has ascertained that it is prepared to handle such protests and has policies and procedures in place to tackle such situations at its festival venues. The priority is to protect the staff, guests and audiences from protestors and create a safe space for them, said the film institute.

As of now, the protestors are demanding support for disputes like SAG-AFTRA strikes that affect their employment and long-term benefits for the below-the-line workforce of the UK entertainment industry. They are asking for assurance that their fragile dependence on their employers will be improved.

According to the Crew Call for Change, the BECTU contracts with UK producers group Pact haven't been reviewed by the workers of the UK entertainment industry and they feel that the union isn't doing enough to initiate such conversations. This includes the BFI and the British Film Commission, said the protesters.

The UK entertainment industry workforce doesn't feel like they are seen or heard and hence they are asking for open discussions with the employees, said the protestors.

"We're here, we're suffering and we demand to be seen and heard", read the statement.

The organisers of the red carpet demonstrations at the London Film Festival have asked UK film and TV crews living outside London to stage protests in their nearby venues.

Getting support from actors and writers

The Crew Call for Change has found support in Irish actors Aisling Bea and Denise Gough along with writer Neil Gaiman.

Irish actress Denise Gough said she was tired of seeing crews treated like "disposable" items and she will stand in solidarity with them on whatever platform he can going forward.

"The times I've witnessed them actually being treated respectfully are unfortunately now few and far between", said Denise Gough.

Gaiman termed the SAG-AFTRA strikes as "a time of unprecedented change in the world of film-making". Gaiman acknowledged the hardships the crews all over the world are facing because of joint strikes by actors and writers. According to Gaiman the writers and artists should support the crews in return, now that the strikes are drawing to a closure.

Aisling Bea highlighted how hard the strikes have been for the crew members. Bea said that studios should think of creating a better system where all the money doesn't end up on the screen but is invested in the crew.

While BECTU has written to US studios and streamers to pay UK film and TV crews retainer fees when the production is shut down, none has given positive replies. As such the union is doing a separate demonstration at Leicester Square in London on Thursday, October 5.