Bob Beitcher, president and CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, sent out an open letter to the entertainment industry pleading for more support for his organization’s efforts to give financial aid to Hollywood’s working class as the industry’s double strike continues.
“Members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA have been very generous in stepping up to support their own members, but as a community we are not doing enough to support the tens of thousands of crew members and others who live paycheck to paycheck and depend on this industry for their livelihood,” Beitcher wrote.
Founded by Mary Pickford in 1921, the Motion Picture and Television Fund was created to provide financial and medical support to struggling workers in the entertainment industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the org saw requests for emergency relief grants surge as the industry was forced to shut down for several months in 2020.
Now, Beitcher says that such demands are surging again as below-the-line crew members that often work from paycheck to paycheck have found themselves in deep financial instability as the Writers Guild of America’s strike has surpassed 100 days.
“Prior to the May 1st work stoppage, we received on average 100 calls a week from working and retired industry members seeking assistance in connection with one or more MPTF programs including financial assistance. Since July 1st, we have been receiving over 500-1,000 calls a week, 90% of them about financial assistance and 80% of them from our crew community,” Beitcher wrote.
“Our crews are at risk of losing their homes, their cars, their ability to pay utility or medical bills, to pay the caregivers for parents or disabled children, and they more than any other group need the financial support from successful community members who know and appreciate what they mean to the film and television production enterprise.”
Beitcher asked those working in Hollywood who can give to help the MPTF continue to provide $1,500 grants to those most affected financially by the strike. Those who wish to give can do so at mptf.com/donate.