Media releases

  • Writers’ strike highlights ‘invisible’ creative labour in TV, film, says Brock expert

    MEDIA RELEASE: May 23 2023 – R0044

    As the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) strike enters its fourth week, media historian Liz Clarke says the dispute is only the latest example of how Hollywood “does a great job of making invisible” certain types of creative labour that goes into making film and television.

    “As a society, we’ve become used to critiques of fast fashion and the over-consumption of cheaply made products because we are aware that they are made possible and affordable by the exploitation of workers,” says Clarke, Associate Professor in Brock University’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. “But people often forget with Hollywood — because we hear so much about star salaries, high box office grosses and frequent discussions about how much movies and shows cost to produce — that there are many people involved in creating movies who are exploited to build up that ‘dream machine’ myth.”

    Key issues in the negotiations include minimum staff requirements for series writing rooms and proper compensation for work shown on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

    The relationship between creative workers and streaming services is of particular interest to Clarke, who says the shift to shorter television series and longer gaps between seasons, especially for streaming services, have placed screenwriters, even those who work for highly successful and acclaimed shows, in an uncertain gig economy.

    “As with so many industries, there’s much more precarity in writing than there was previously,” she says. “Previous iterations of the industry, particularly broadcast television, had more security, even on average shows, because the season consisted of a set number of episodes and was released on a fixed schedule.”

    Clarke thinks the issues making headlines in the WGA strike are a good reminder that transitions to new forms of media require a critical approach from those working in the field as well as those consuming the products.

    “For a number of years, when the streaming services first appeared, there was this sense that they were giving viewers everything we could ever want, with all of the power in the viewers’ hands through endless choice about what to watch and when,” she says. “Now we see that what we thought was endless access is actually becoming very much a lack of access due to increased subscription fees and sudden removal of content that isn’t available anywhere else.”

    Clarke adds that strike issues involving streaming or artificial intelligence reflect an ongoing struggle in an industry that has evolved over the last century with the introduction of multiple new technologies, platforms and distribution methods.

    “We can learn a lot from media history and labour history in the creative industries,” she says. “Certainly, we shouldn’t have to start from scratch every time a new media comes out.”

    Clarke also points to potential ramifications for the WGA negotiations in other areas of the movie business.

    “With other unions entering negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, this strike may well expand to include actors and directors, which may have long-lasting repercussions for the industry,” she says.

    Liz Clarke, Associate Professor in Brock University’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, is available for media interviews on the topic.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock gives back with scholarships to 66 Niagara high school grads

    MEDIA RELEASE: May 18 2023 – R0043

    When Nima Abadinezhad’s family immigrated to Canada from Iran two years ago, they did so with his education in mind.

    The Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School student has since worked hard to achieve his goal of attending university, which will become a reality in September when he begins in Brock’s Computer Science program.

    Abadinezhad’s efforts saw him recognized as one of 66 recipients of Brock’s Niagara Principal’s Scholarships, which were presented during a reception hosted by the University on Wednesday, May 17.

    For the eighth consecutive year, the University has presented the $2,500 entrance scholarships to two graduating students from nearly every public, Catholic and private secondary school in the Niagara region. This year’s awards total $165,000.

    Recipients are selected by principals from each high school based on a combination of academic achievements, school and community involvement, and financial need.

    For Abadinezhad, whose family faced hardships when they immigrated to Canada, the scholarship will have a significant impact.

    He says his parents had to made big sacrifices, essentially starting from scratch, to begin a new life in a new country.

    “This scholarship is going to help me a lot in terms of my future plans,” Abadinezhad says, adding the award has affirmed for his parents that the move has opened the door to new opportunities. “They can see that I’m growing here, that I’m happy, have a future, and that I’m also going to a good university.”

    The Principal’s Scholarship program, which has offered more than $1.3 million in funding to local high school graduates since its inception in 2015, is just one of the many ways in which Brock invests in the future of Niagara, says President and Vice-Chancellor Lesley Rigg.

    “Brock has proudly served as Niagara’s university for nearly 60 years and is committed to giving back to the region and its bright young minds,” Rigg says. “The Principal’s Scholarship recipients have already shined academically and through their community involvement, and we look forward to all that they will accomplish during their time at Brock and beyond.”

    The reception held to honour the recipients welcomed the students alongside their families, principals, teachers and guidance counsellors, who came together with Brock representatives to celebrate their accomplishments.

    In addition to being individually recognized at the ceremony, scholarship recipients were gifted an awards box filled with Brock University gear and items to get their post-secondary experience off on the right foot.

    “Each year, we look forward to honouring the outstanding students chosen to receive the Niagara Principal’s Scholarships,” says Matt Melnyk, Director, Student Recruitment. “The reception is an opportunity for us to not only celebrate their achievements in the local community and in their respective schools, but also to set the stage for their future success at Brock, where we’re confident they will continue to excel.”

    Recipients of the 2023 Niagara Principal’s Scholarships:

    • Isabella Berardi, A.N. Myer Secondary School
    • Payton Thomson, A.N. Myer Secondary School
    • Anjelica Mercey, Blessed Trinity Catholic School
    • Cassie Corbett, Blessed Trinity Catholic School
    • Anderson Cecchini, Denis Morris Catholic High School
    • Mateya Scalzi, Denis Morris Catholic High School
    • Sam Parlatore, Denis Morris Catholic High School
    • Aisha El Sahli, DSBN Academy
    • Sandra Lee, DSBN Academy
    • Lucas Motola, E. L. Crossley Secondary School
    • Jinja Shepherd, E. L. Crossley Secondary School
    • Carl Ferma, Eastdale Secondary School
    • Somaa Hamadamin, Eastdale Secondary School
    • Chiara Rathee, Eden High School
    • Tasneem Elatresh, Eden High School
    • Noha Nahli, Franco-Niagara Secondary School
    • Gavin Petri, Governor Simcoe Secondary School
    • Riley Campbell, Governor Simcoe Secondary School
    • Ellie May, Great Lakes Christian High School
    • Sadie Kennedy, Great Lakes Christian High School
    • Alazaya Collee, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School
    • Jesselyn Misner, Greater Fort Erie Secondary School
    • Jacob Dekorte, Heritage Christian School
    • Lauren Dejong, Heritage Christian School
    • Laura Avila, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
    • Olivia MacLean, Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School
    • Nicole Otten, Jordan Christian School
    • Charis Farr, Jordan Christian School
    • Ben Morin, Lakeshore Catholic High School
    • Zoey Snider, Lakeshore Catholic High School
    • Ellie Warren, Laura Secord Secondary School
    • Sydney Robbs, Laura Secord Secondary School
    • Leila Bauer, Lifetime Learning Centre
    • Kaitlin McNulty, Lifetime Learning Centre
    • Emily Lockwood, Niagara Christian Collegiate
    • Alexa Osorio, Niagara Christian Collegiate
    • Ethan Mullins, Notre Dame College School
    • Katelin Oussoren, Notre Dame College School
    • Darien Gauthier, Port Colborne High School
    • Emma Laur, Port Colborne High School
    • Samuel Howe, Ridley College
    • Omar Abuhmeidan, Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada
    • Jack Oosterveer, Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School
    • Jadyne Flores, Saint Francis Catholic Secondary School
    • Abby Critelli, Saint Michael Catholic High School
    • Ethan Kelly, Saint Michael Catholic High School
    • Briar Grant, Saint Paul Catholic High School
    • Julia De Prophetis, Saint Paul Catholic High School
    • Anika York, Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf
    • Lauren Corbeil, Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf
    • Nima Abadinezhad, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School
    • Victoria Misener, Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School
    • Eleanor Lee, Smithville Christian High School
    • Laurel Graham, Smithville Christian High School
    • Mark Hallihan, St. Catharines Collegiate
    • Saffwan Chowdhury, St. Catharines Collegiate
    • Sydney Cruz, Stamford Collegiate
    • Jack Clarke, Stamford Collegiate
    • Grace Sargeant, Thorold Secondary School
    • Jenna Davies, Thorold Secondary School
    • Melissa Mazurkiewicz, Welland Centennial Secondary School
    • Nico D’Amelio, Welland Centennial Secondary School
    • Mackenzie Topp, West Niagara Secondary School
    • Milena Gallant, West Niagara Secondary School
    • Smith Schedler, Westlane Secondary School
    • Jacob Dempsey, Westlane Secondary School

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University or 905-941-6209

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    Categories: Media releases