The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes have shaken Hollywood to the core, and with no imminent resolution in sight, many big names, like veteran screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, have stepped up to take a stance. Kaufman, best known for works like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, blasted Hollywood studios while speaking at the Sarajevo Film Festival this week, where he collected a lifetime achievement award.
Charlie Kaufman is among the most revered personalities in Hollywood. His work has also been credited for its style and substance. Kaufman made it clear that he was more than displeased with the studios, calling out the money-making schemes that have landed Hollywood in jeopardy. He said:
“It’s disgusting, because they don’t do anything,…No, they do damage is what they do. They do damage to the art form. And by doing that, they do damage to humanity. And if everything is about the bottom line for them and saving money, then there’s nothing left to the art form.”
“Studios are going to continue to exist and people are going to continue to make garbage because garbage at this point … makes a fortune,”
Charlie Kaufman also didn’t hold back while speaking to Variety, expressing his rage and disappointment at the situation.
“I think they know that their money comes from other people not getting money”- Charlie Kaufman on big studios
On Monday, August 14, Kaufman led a masterclass in the main hall of the Bosnian Cultural Center at the Sarajevo Film Festival, addressing the pay packages of Hollywood studios and their exploitative approaches before moving on to the WGA strike.
Apart from speaking at the Sarajevo Film Festival, the veteran screenwriter also spoke to Variety about his views and did not hold back at all while bashing studio executives for manipulating artists like himself. He said:
“[Studio heads] are not ushering in any kind of beautiful work by their presence. They’re kind of doing the opposite of that. And I think it’s evidenced in what Hollywood produces, and how the more expensive a movie is, the less value it has to the culture,…I think they grasp it. I think they know that their money comes from other people not getting money.”
Charlie Kaufman also bashed Disney CEO Bob Iger, who has been one of the primary villainous figures in this struggle for justice. Addressing Iger’s claims about writers not having “realistic” demands. Kaufman said:
“I’m wondering if his salary is realistic,…I think saying something like that, from the position he’s in, is cynical. Or dishonest.”
The strike has dragged on for over 100 days. The meetings were suspended in the middle, but the Writers Guild of America met again with studio representatives on Thursday, August 17, but no resolution seems to be in sight yet.
Charlie Kaufman also addressed the use of artificial intelligence to cover human effort while speaking to Variety. Like many other artists and actors, Kauffman, who has frequently dabbled in sci-fi himself, considers AI one of the greatest threats to organic creativity.
He also addressed this, saying:
“I think it’s an extraordinarily dangerous slippery slope. Once it’s gone down, there’s no return…It’s the end of creativity for human beings, is what it’s going to lead to. It’s handing it over to a non-sentient, non-feeling, non-rebellious entity.”
Both the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, meanwhile, rage on, halting any production on the way and delaying several others.
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