Since the SAG-AFTRA strike began earlier this month, the focus has largely been on how actors have taken to the picket line. But SAG-AFTRA is also the union for thousands of stunt workers, and on Monday, they held a rally of their own to show support to the union.
Per Atlanta News First, the rally took place Monday afternoon in Fayetteville, Georgia, with members of the state’s stunt community coming to protest for wage increases, residual payments, and protections against artificial intelligence.
“We should share in the successes of our employer when their product goes and they make billions with a ‘B.’ Billions of dollars on the backs of the people who do the work,” SAG-AFTRA local president Eric Goins told Atlanta News First.
During the rally, one stunt performer, Mike Massa, set himself on fire in order to show support for the strike and demonstrate the dangerous scenes that performers have to shoot during the production of film and TV shows. Massa spent 10 months doubling Harrison Ford on “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and counts “1923” among his other recent credits.
Stuntwoman Elena Sanchez also gave a speech during the rally condemning AMPTP for their refusal to consider stunt people in negotiations and their general refusal to negotiate productively with the SAG-AFTRA union.
“The AMPTP is opposed to us sharing the rewards of a successful show because we don’t bear any of the risks. Tell that to my friend John who lost his life working on one of your TV shows. Tell that to any of us who have literally broken bones and bled for you,” Sanchez said in her speech.
In recent years, there has been a concentrated push from the stuntwork community for their work and contributions towards film and TV to receive more mainstream recognition from the rest of the industry. In particular, there have been several calls to add a stunt category to the Oscars, including from prominent filmmakers like “John Wick” creator Chad Stahelski.
SAG-AFTRA went on strike July 13, following a two week extension on the original deadline to finalize a contract with AMPTP. Since the strike has begun, many prominent actors have joined members of the WGA in also striking, after that union began their strike in May.