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In Wake of Strikes, HPA Focuses on Industry Recovery

By Debra Kaufman

Both the writers and actors strikes are over, after 148 days and 146 days, respectively, but the damage has been done. According to CNN, as of September 21, the financial impact of strikes surpassed $5 billion. That comes as no surprise to the thousands of individuals and the untold number of companies driven to poverty and bankruptcy during months. Though the focus was on the writers and actors, the impact of the strikes rippled throughout the industry, from lighting designers to hair & makeup. The dire level of job loss led the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to approve a motion brought by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Lyndsey Horvath to support the WGA strike and all the small businesses hurt by the stoppage in TV/film production.

The post production industry has felt a seismic impact from the strikes and HPA saw the need to ensure that the post production industry – including post, visual effects and sound communities – was acknowledged as part of the supply chain that had been disrupted, leading to job loss and business closures. In August, the HPA issued an Open Letter describing how vital its constituency is to the film/TV supply chain. HPA president Seth Hallen reported an overwhelming number of positive responses to the letter. “Many members of the community were grateful that the HPA, without taking sides, wanted to make sure that the post/VFX/sound communities were kept top of mind,” says HPA president Seth Hallen.

At the same time, HPA formed the Industry Task Force (ITF) which has been busy reaching out to numerous government entities and individuals to “seek relief for businesses and workers in post,” adds Hallen. He recounts meeting with Supervisor Horvath and, later, a member of her staff at the Hollywood Partnership 2023 Annual Meeting (Hallen also serves on the board of the Hollywood Partnership). “Supervisor Horvath and her team were very receptive about the post production community,” says Hallen. “This indicates a growing awareness and concern at the County level about our community’s challenges.”

HPA leaders also met with chief executive/film liaison Gary Smith of the Los Angeles County Film Office, who has led an initiative to make some money available for small businesses impacted by the strike. The HPA task force has also established contact with several other governmental officials, including the offices of California State Senator Ben Allen. HPA is also in discussion with California Chief Deputy Treasurer Patrick Henning, in California State Treasurer Fiona Ma’s office, about the potential of low-interest loans to companies impacted by the strikes.

Hallen says that Los Angeles Department of Economic Opportunity chief executive Stephen Chung mentioned the impact of the strikes on the post production industry in a presentation at the Hollywood Partnership meeting. “I was pleased to hear that he made it a point to mention the post production industry, and that he acknowledged how it will continue to be impacted and have a longer recovery period due to the production cycle,” says Hallen.

The ITF is releasing an Open Letter 2, which expands on its original letter. Additionally, the task force will be developing other avenues for participation, such as a Town Halls.

To that end, stresses Hallen, “the important thing to remember is that, for the post community, things may get worse before they get better.” “Think how long it will take for productions to spin up now that the strikes are over” he explains. “It might not be until closer to late Spring/Early Summer 2024 that post production will really be back in business in a meaningful way.”

HPA has also contacted other groups and guilds in the Hollywood production community that haven’t gotten as much notice as writers and actors but have been badly hurt by the cessation of production. “We’ve reached out to American Cinema Editors (ACE) and our friends at the Visual Effects Society (VES) and the Cinema Audio Society (CAS),” says Hallen. “We’ve also been in conversation with members of the Property Masters Guild and the Set Decorators Society of America (IATSE Local 44) and Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (IATSE Local 706), which held an October rally at Los Angeles City Hall. “HPA has been doing everything we can to reach out to different parts of the community,” says Hallen. “And we’re going to continue to make sure that the post production industry is represented.”

“We know this is a process, and there’s a road ahead to travel. We plan to keep the spotlight on the needs of the post production industry and help to drive actions from governmental and industry bodies,” he says.  “At the same time, we will keep our community fully informed about our efforts. This transparency will only strengthen our collective voice. Together we can build a more robust and sustainable future for the media creation industry.”

HPA will continue to elevate and celebrate its community, as well as educate, and provide opportunities to network.  “Despite all the disruption, it’s business as usual in all our initiatives, and the role of HPA as a critical connector of the post production industry is unchanged.” Hallen says. “For example, earlier this week we gathered at the Television Academy to celebrate the 18th annual HPA Awards.  It was an amazing evening, full to capacity, and a testimony to the strength and talent of this community.  We all understand the value of the work that our constituents are involved in.  We’re dedicated to making sure the wider community does too.”

For information about HPA and how to get involved with ITF visit HPAONLINE.com.

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