December 8, 2023
Dear fellow members,
As the end of year approaches, it strikes me that this is my third holiday message to you as your President. Wow… what an honour and a privilege it has been to serve, and I’m extremely proud of the team that we have assembled to work on your behalf!
It has been a busy few months since this new Council was formed at June’s AGM. We said goodbye to our esteemed Branch Representative of 22 years, Rob Macklin, and welcomed the amazing Rea Kavanagh into that leadership position. I can tell you that Rea has been working hard to “get off script” when it comes to her demanding role and has been doing a wonderful job. She is, of course, supported by our great staff: Julie Penner, Shauntana Holmes and Ellie Macpherson. Along with the work of our dedicated and energized new Council, our branch has been extremely active; engaging the membership through various committees, initiating new training opportunities, and more. I’m very proud of this Council who have enthusiastically embraced their roles of representing YOU, our membership, when it comes to decisions that affect us all.
The SAG-AFTRA strike is over, which is great news for production! Anticipate 2024 to be a busy year – here’s hoping that we all get some great opportunities to be at our best. While that has been a recent bit of good news, the bad news is the ICA battle continues for commercials. This lockout has gone on for nearly 20 months now and has drastically affected many members’ livelihoods. The most affected are members in Ontario, B.C., and Quebec, but we all feel the collective pressure to regain this work as it is a valuable piece of the pie that is professional acting work. Couple this with the strike that greatly reduced production across the country this summer, and it can be said that certain regions have felt some significant pain.
Manitoba, however, seems to have gotten the least of it. While work in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver dried up, our work was bolstered by Canadian independent production – a great example of the hard work and success of our local producers, writers, and filmmakers. Here we have seen 6 series produced – half new productions and half in their second season – and all providing many opportunities to our members. There have been small and large-scale features, ranging from first features like Green Hill (an ACTRA Indie Production) to large-scale productions like Psycho Killer. In total, 28 features kept 645 of our members at work over the past year. Add to this a smattering of Industrials, Commercials, Shorts and your own Member Initiated Productions, and 2023 shaped up to be quite a year for Manitoba film in spite of the significant setbacks across the industry.
ACTRA is known for its membership of hard-working, skilled, knowledgeable, and professional performers. What does that really mean, to be a professional performer? I’ll be writing more about that in the near future, but just know that it is one of our focuses in the coming year. We have seen a slew of new members join the union in the last couple of years, and that means training, orientation, and awareness of ACTRA policies, member rights and responsibilities, and industry best practices are more important than ever.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a safe and warm holiday season from all of us on Council: Kalyn, Krystle, Turk, Marsha, Paul, Shannon, Nazariy, Lorraine, JJ, and myself, along with everyone in the office: Rea, Julie, Shauntana and Ellie. May your gatherings be filled with joy and laughter.