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How Will Writer's Strike Affect Louisiana's "Hollywood South"?


WGA STRIKE IMPACTS? - The Writer’s Guild Strike isn’t yet a week old but it has already impacted the entertainment industry as more than 97% of the guild membership voted to strike for better pay, a better share of streaming profits, and protections against emerging new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. The immediate effect was for late-night TV talk shows and comedy programs like Kimmel LIVE, and Saturday Night Live to name just two. But what will the Writer’s strike do to states where TV and Film Production has become a growing industry?

Louisiana has become known as “Hollywood South” thanks to generous production tax credit incentives that pay a percentage of production costs spent in the state. Garrett Kruithof is an actor living in Northwest Louisiana. His credits include appearances in TV series for Disney, Showtime, and several motion pictures, many shot in Louisiana. I asked him what he thought the Writer’s Strike might mean for Louisianans who work in the entertainment industry.

Garrett Kruithof (L) along with Michael Howell, Jeremy Sande and Mark Wahlberg at the New Orleans Deepwater Horizon Premiere.
Courtesy: BSC Event Photography / Copyright Garrett Kruithof
Garrett Kruithof (L) along with Michael Howell, Jeremy Sande and Mark Wahlberg at the New Orleans Deepwater Horizon Premiere.

“The immediate impact on television shows are the one that write and produce daily, which is your daily shows and your sketch shows and things like that. That’s why we saw those shut down first,” Kruithof explained. “The next thing to go is your episodic television, those are scripted out to a certain extent but they do write those in the middle of filming. They’re writing episodes for the later part of the season early so we could see some of these episodics that we film, we could just see them shut down in the middle if their scripts are not ready for the next round.”

So until that happens, TV shows and films that have scripts locked-in, will continue production until completion or if they require re-writes. As for solidarity with the Writer’s Guild, unions like the Screen Actors Guild can’t strike in support due to non-strike clauses in their contracts with the studios.

One issue for writers is they seldom see residual payments when a TV show or movie plays in reruns and with the explosion of streaming services on the worldwide web, the pay writers, actors, and others have been receiving has become less when compared to traditional TV network or theatrical distribution, especially considering the longer gaps between seasons for programs produced for streaming online.

Garrett Kruithof in a scene from Deepwater Horizon (2016).
Courtesy: Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate
Garrett Kruithof in a scene from Deepwater Horizon (2016).

“You know in the past the writers could depend on well we’re doing 26 episodes of this show on network television, I know that I’m going to work from this part of the year to this part of year,” Kruithof said. “Well with streaming and having these gaps, it’s the streaming the services, as much as it has provided new opportunities for more writers and more directors and more actors to fill that need, it’s also created uncertainty.”

And adding to that uncertainty is artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to writing scripts. It’s not too far-fetched to think that apps like ChatGPT and others could have algorithms developed that take basic story concept outlines and turn out TV and Film scripts with using less writers if any. And while some application of AI in movie-making and TV production is inevitable, writers and actors are going take their concerns up with the studios when as more contracts come up for negotiation.

“There are certain industries that we can’t have as ‘gig economies’ and I don’t think the entertainment industry is sustainable as a gig economy,” Kruithof said.

You catch the Garrett Kruithof in the most recent episodes of the Disney TV Series: “The Legend of Sulphur Springs”, He plays Judge Walker.