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How Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Can End the Actor & Writer Strikes

Aug 09
How Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Can End the Actor & Writer Strikes

How Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Can End the Actor & Writer Strikes

As we all know, the writers and actors are on strike.  They have stopped working for the major studios and are on the picket lines daily.  The parties, it seems, have reached a stalemate and there’s no end in sight.  Indeed, the artists, unlike with past strikes, are not negotiating with just the movie studios, when the interests of all the parties at the table were aligned (i.e., make more/better movies, make more money).  Instead, they are now negotiating against the likes of Amazon, which is more focused on selling diapers and prime memberships than it is working with worldclass artists to produce great content.  This is the same Amazon that has famously avoided unionizing efforts across the country.  Thus, one might expect them not to give an inch.  There has even been speculation that their goal is to bust the unions, a topic that irks the artists because it lowers morale on the picket lines, but is nevertheless a looming threat.


So how do the artists end this strike?  One answer is to turn to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.  Yes, Ben Affleck was recently called out for his not being out on the picket lines, but in truth, Ben shouldn’t be on the picket lines, he should be making movies and putting his fellow actors and writers back to work.


In 1919, United Artists was formed by four artists who were fed up with the studios and decided to take control of their own interests. United Artists is now owned by MGM, which is, ironically, now owned by Amazon.


In 2022, Artists Equity was formed by two artists who were similarly fed up with the studios and decided to take control of their own interests.  Artists Equity is owned by Damon and Affleck.


The model of Artists Equity, in a nutshell, is to cut all of the artists (including the crew) working on the project in on the pie, with everyone being rewarded in success.  They’ve produced five movies thus far, with the most notable being the Nike – Air Jordan story “Air.”  It’s a brilliant model because it rewards the artists as investors and aligns everyone’s interests.


Needless to say, the major studios do not see this working in their favor, but instead of continuing to shout at the rain and battle the studios every few years to gain an inch or two, perhaps it’s time to embrace Damon’s and Affleck’s ambitious, yet timely, mission and completely change the paradigm.


The last time there was a WGA strike was in 2008 and the very first Hollywood studio to come to terms with the WGA, enabling the writers to come back to work for the studio was… in a goose bump inspiring homage to its founding principles… United Artists.


At the time, Tom Cruise and MGM had joined forces to run United Artists and one can surmise that the conversation went like this:  Tom “United Artists is doing a deal with the WGA.”  MGM Executive: “OK”.


Shortly thereafter, Lionsgate and Marvel signed deals with the WGA.  The team negotiating with the union on behalf of the studios called the deals with United Artists, Lionsgate and Marvel meaningless, but they were wrong… the log jam had been broken because studios not making movies only works if the other studios refuse to make movies as well.


In 2008, we had Tom Cruise to stand up for the artists.


In 2023, it’s Damon and Affleck that are in a position to stand up for the artists, but instead of just using the stick with a picket sign on it, they can use the carrot of making movies with the most talented artists in the world.


The question isn’t whether a studio will want to do a deal to work with the very best artists in the business, but rather, which studio will go first and reap the rewards.


It will only take one studio to see the value in teaming up with Damon, Affleck and the artists who rally behind them to break the log jam and start making movies and TV shows again.


The Amazons of the world can just continue negotiating with the unions while the industry moves on without them.  Or perhaps they will just go back to selling diapers.

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