ACTRA set a deadline for 12 am January 8 and, while negotiations continued past that deadline, at a press conference this morning, ACTRA chief negotiator Steven Waddell confirmed his members are technically on strike but continuing to work for current productions where producers have signed individual interim agreements.
His counterpart at the CFTPA, chief negotiator John Barrack, dismissed these agreements as invalid. At a press conference immediately following ACTRA's, Barrack said he was filing court papers today seeking an injunction. 'You can't strike against one producer but not all. You can't cherry-pick,' he said.
The strike action, the first in ACTRA's 64 years, covers a range of issues but at its heart are two contrasting visions of the role of performers in the great unknown of new media: remuneration in media ranging from podcasts, 'webisodes' and 'mobisodes' to those yet to be invented. The Canadian negotiations will present a precedent for similar negotiations between US producers and the Screen Actors Guild coming in early 2008. The CFTPA is negotiating alongside the Association de producteurs de films et de television du Quebec (APFTQ) and representatives of LA-based production companies.
Canadian actress Wendy Crewson, who divides her time between LA and Toronto, condensed ACTRA's concern at today's press conference: 'Professional performers don't work for free. Not on TV. Not on film. And not on the internet.' Citing performers' stance that the DVD format did not yield an equitable division of revenue for talent, she said, 'We've learned the lesson.'
But producer Steve Comeau, president of Nova Scotia-based Collideascope Digital Productions, who is negotiating alongside Barrack, said Canadian performers are 'pricing themselves out of the new media marketplace'. APFTQ negotiator Julie Patry said ACTRA is writing itself 'out of the future.'