ALBUQUERQUE (New Mexico): A Toronto production assistant whose income dried up because of Hollywood strikes lost his housing and ended up living in his car. A New York set dresser slipped out of sobriety amid the stress. A New Mexico assistant director fell into deep depression and took his life. They were among the hundreds of thousands of US and Canadian film and television crew workers who were unemployed for up to 10 months because of strikes called by actors and writers, leaving a trail of evictions and family disintegration.
Crew members rallied to help one another and charities pitched in during the writers strike that began May 2 and ended in late September, and the actors strike that started in July. The actors reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday.
“The actors and writers are getting a lot of publicity but the crews are the collateral damage of the strikes,” said Lori Rubinstein, executive director of mental health charity Behind the Scenes.
Crew members lost health insurance and broke into retirement funds. They saw relationships collapse and became isolated and depressed as, month after month, they went without pay and lost the rush of 70-hour work weeks creating shows that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to union leaders, counselors and over a dozen crew members Reuters interviewed.