‘Huge relief’: Hawaii’s film industry gets back to work after Hollywood strike averted

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 8:24 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s film industry is breathing a sigh of relief after the union that represents thousands of Hollywood workers reached a tentative contract agreement with studios, averting a strike planned Monday.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — or IATSE — is the union that represents everyone from camera operators to makeup artists to carpenters.

The three-year agreement still needs to be ratified by members, but the deal prevents a strike that could’ve caused major disruptions in Hollywood film productions, including in Hawaii.

“Huge relief because IATSE is the backbone of our industry,” said Donne Dawson, state film commissioner. “Every film set is just predominantly IATSE crew members. And it’s really, really — we’re grateful for the fact they came to an agreement and we can get back to work.”

The proposed contract addresses improved conditions such as meal breaks, weekend rest periods and wage increases.

“Most of our asks were not about money, they were about quality of life concerns, so we’re talking reasonable rest, sustainable benefits, reasonable meal breaks,” said Tui Scanlan, president of IATSE Local 665.

Scanlan said streaming was a major component in the negotiations, particularly with regards to benefits and wages for those workers.

“The streaming game showed up about 12 years, in 2009, when they were relatively new,” Scanlan said. “They asked for concessions here and there on wages and on benefits as it was an experimental platform. Twelve years later, or into the pandemic, it is not only viable, it is the standard now for the business model.”

The tentative agreement comes as Hawaii sees a record-breaking year in film productions, from “Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.” on Disney+ to CBS’ “NCIS: Hawaii.” According to the state film office, there were five television series, plus two reality shows.

Dawson said during the last record year of 2018, the film industry generated an estimated $420 million in direct spending. This year, she predicts it will surpass half a billion.

“This is really unprecedented for Hawaii,” Dawson said. “I think that the pent-up demand, combined with the demand for streaming, combined with the fact that Hawaii is just an awesome place to film, just mean that we’re going to see more production coming our way.”

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