Jennifer J. Lacelle
Jun 26, 2023
Strike & Pause to Learn
Currently, the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) is on strike following the end of a three-year contract - and rightfully so. The last strike (2007-2008) lasted 100 days. This time, screenwriters are striking following changes to the world and craft that have made it more difficult to earn a living. Two things they want are an increase in wage and equity.
Shifts in technology and society haven't been all bad since new opportunites have arisen for writers (online streaming platforms making their own content, for example). However, writers can still be forgotten, underpaid, and underappreciated.
Here in Ontario, other unions and guilds are beginning to stand with the WGA and ACTRA Toronto has already begun striking in solidarity.
Rumour has it that as of July 1, 2023 studios in Northern Ontario are planning a halt in production. This means hundreds of workers (background, crew, actors, etc.) will be out of a job for the foreseeable future. It's definitely nervewracking, especially not knowing when work will resume.
That being said, my suggestion is to take the reprieve and do things you keep saying you're going to do and haven't. Whether it's walking more or advancing one's skills. On the second matter, you can check out these amazing places (*you should verify individually if they're working over the strike):
That Creative Loft | They offer acting and modeling courses for all ages! If you're looking at getting into the field, this is a great way to start if you're in the Sudbury region. See previous article for a detailed interview.
Bad Dog Theatre | If you're more interested in off-screen work then check out their Comedy Writing Program. They offer online and in-person (for those in Toronto).
The Second City | Whether your in Chicago or Toronto, you can go to in-person classes. If you're farther away, online is the way to go. They've been around for a long time and now offer over a dozen adult programs that are both performance-based or behind-the-scenes-based.
At Home Learning | YouTube - it might sound cliche, and the ads can become overwhelming, but there are many interviews, or instructional videos, offered for free that you can always check out.
Practice At Home
This is probably the most economical way to up your skills. Don't underestimate the power of having a real teacher - it makes a massive difference! That being said, if you want something with a minimal (no) budget then try some of these techniques.
For acting, find yourself a monologue and practice in the mirror. Try different facial expressions and tones and see how your body shifts, how your face changes, how the speed and intonation differs with each new way of speaking. Better yet, get a friend to work practice dialogue with you! Use a scene or write yourself one.
If you're like me and enjoy writing, I suggest CeltX to get practice. You can find simple resources with a Google search on template and formatting. Then practice writing short scripts. Even better is to find someone to collaborate with. You can bounce ideas off a friend and they can do the same.
Media Minded? Get on the computer and start making up names of products and practice designing logos, bottle wrappers, etc. All the things you see on TV or film is designed by a Graphic Artist who has put together these items digitally and had them printed for practicality. It's a bigger job than you'd think - it goes from book covers to condiment containers to games and even artwork on the walls. Make sure you measure the item and make the size on the computer the same. You have to consider tone, layout, colours, the show theme, etc.
Overall, the strike needs to happen as it will provide much needed support to our screenwriters. Actors and crew are vital, but remember that stories start with writers!