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‘The Chosen’ Granted Strike Exemption

by | Fri, Jul 21 2023

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The makers of The Chosen streaming series about the life and ministry of Jesus Christ have this week been celebrating what some are calling its ‘miracle’ and others its “Red Sea moment.” It was given the all-clear to resume production after being granted the first exemption from the Hollywood actors’ strike.

The Christian show is one of just a few productions still going ahead after losing a day and a half’s filming while appealing for a waiver. Premier Christian News reports the cast is currently in the final stages of shooting Season Four.

The series is fully funded by donations and totally independent which helped convince the actors’ union, the Screen Actors’ Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), to grant it special dispensation. It is not associated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the representative body of the studios that the union is striking against. The Chosen’s producers agreed to all union requests and an interim agreement.

Last week before the strike had technically begun, The Chosen’s official Twitter account posted a message from its creator and director Dallas Jenkins expressing doubt over the show being granted an exemption “despite the requested work we did on our end” to avert a complete shutdown. In a subsequent Instagram post, Mr. Jenkins addressed SAG-AFTRA directly, insisting that The Chosen “fit all the qualifications for an exemption” and that the union’s lack of response at the time “costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars while your actors are struck in Utah.”

“We’re the good guys; we’ve treated your actors well. Please take a few minutes to approve our application so your actors can get back to work getting paid for the last two weeks of a season they want to finish,” he pleaded. The union heeded his appeal and permitted filming to resume. The series only has a few more days of shooting to go at its Utah location.

Entertainment Weekly reports The Chosen serves as an important case study as the strike continues, exemplifying how films and television series can continue production without ties to the studio system.

USA Today reports the series cast and crew had framed the initial shutdown in Biblical terms before the reprieve. “It’s upsetting and will cost time and money, but we bring our five loaves and two fish. God handles the rest,” Dallas Jenkins tweeted.

He thanks the show’s independent credentials for the clearance. The Chosen performed a crowd-funding ‘miracle’ by raising A$54 million to produce the first two seasons, and has relied entirely on donations for each season with no licensing deals. It’s the largest crowd-funded media project in history. “We appreciate your prayers,” Mr. Jenkins wrote on Twitter.

There is no official release date for Season Four, but a spokesperson said it’s looking like early next year.

Photo: Angel Studios