With Hollywood brought to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, there are thousands of entertainment industry workers left wondering how they will make ends meet, for however long the lockdown lasts. But over the past week, the entertainment industry’s unions have gathered resources to help workers find financial support.
Guild officials who spoke to TheWrap say that they do not have enough to help all workers in need, and that federal aid will be needed, not only for direct recovery checks, but to help ensure that entertainment workers qualify for government relief despite the unconventional nature of their employment. Still, they encourage those who suddenly find themselves without income because of the industry-wide shutdown to reach out to their respective guilds for support, and for those who can afford it to contribute in any way they can.
General aid groups are listed here below, followed by links for members of specific guilds:
Founded last year by “Chicago Fire” writer and WGA board member Liz Alper alongside Jamarah Hayner and Deirdre Mangan, the activist group was created to organize Hollywood workers around demands for better pay and safety in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Now, they are raising funds to send out small, short-term stipends to workers in need.
Together with WGA board member John August and “Chernobyl” creator Craig Mazin, hosts of the podcast “ScriptNotes,” #PayUpHollywood has launched a GoFundMe account that so far has raised over $320,000. The goal of the organization is to provide emergency checks of $450-900 to Hollywood workers who were working on projects that were either filming or set to go into production when the pandemic hit.
$450 checks will be available to those who qualify and who are currently receiving unemployment checks from the California Employee Development Department (EDD). $900 checks will be available to qualified applicants who cannot get checks from the EDD for various reasons, such as 1099 employee status. Information on EDD services, including aid to those infected or caring for someone infected with coronavirus can check their website for more information.
Those who wish to apply can fill out the survey here. Aid will be provided based on order of applications received and level of need. All applicants will need to provide documentation of employment lost, EDD application proof, and/or other information as listed in the survey. Those who wish to donate to the fund can do so on their GoFundMe page.
Though the name suggests that it is only available to actors in the entertainment industry, the Actors Fund is providing emergency financial assistance and counseling to all entertainment workers. The group was included as part of a $2.5 million donation to IATSE and is now open to applications for emergency funds based on financial need. More information is available on their website.
Motion Picture and Television Fund
When the crisis began last week, the Motion Picture and Television Fund announced that it would open its financial aid and case management services to the industry. Those in need in Hollywood, particularly industry retirees, can call their intake line at (323) 634-3888, or check their website for services offered.
“We have been at this place before during the 2007-2008 work stoppage and supported 630 industry members with financial assistance and case management in a challenging time,” wrote President/CEO Bob Beitcher last week. Thanks to the generosity of our community, MPTF is still here for you today.”
Writers Guild of America
For WGA members, legal services are being offered by both WGA West and WGA East to help writers with guidance on their contracts and employment rights on any productions that were shut down. Any participants in the WGA health plan will also be able to have 100% of the cost of testing for the coronavirus covered by the guild’s health plan. These and other WGA services are outlined on the guild’s website.
The actors’ guild’s two major aid divisions, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and the SAG-AFTRA Motion Picture Players Welfare Fund (MPPWF), have created a coronavirus response fund to provide assistance to guild members in need of emergency financial aid due to the pandemic. The guild advises members that hundreds of applications have already been received and that applicants should wait at least two weeks before hearing a response. Applications are being received here
Directors Guild of America
Like WGA, the DGA will cover all costs for those who need to be tested for coronavirus and will also cover remote treatment from doctors and psychologists as part of their health plan for the duration of the lockdown. Members can also apply for short-term, interest free loans through the Directors’ Guild Foundation, which can be found here.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is extending its annuity hardship withdrawals to include members who need coronavirus financial aid from job losses. The guild is also asking both its members and workers throughout the industry to help them in their push to encourage Congress to make provisions that ensure that Hollywood workers will be able to qualify for any federal relief programs created in the coming weeks. Check their website for more resources for members.
Teamsters Local 399
If you are a driver that’s a member of Teamsters Local 399 but now out of work because of production shutdowns, you may be able to apply for jobs at local grocery stores through the union. Local 399 has arranged for preferential employment of members in immediate need of a paycheck to take driver jobs at Ralph’s, Albertsons, Vons, and Stater Bros. stores. The union is also allowing members to apply to waive due payments. Information for members is available on the union website.