As the COVID-19 pandemic freezes the American economy, actor-turned-producer Zachery Bryan, who played Brad Taylor alongside Tim Allen on the popular 1990s sitcom “Home Improvement,” has emerged as an advocate for the Hollywood working class – the people behind the camera who get a bad name based on the public statements of “clueless celebs.”
In a recent op-ed for Fox News, Bryan asked Americans to have compassion for the many hard-working people in Hollywood whose lives have been upended by the economic shutdown, asserting that they should not be judged based on the actions of what he called the 1%.
“During a recent conversation with a longtime friend who works in the entertainment industry, she expressed concern that if the coronavirus shutdown goes on too long, they won’t be able to make their monthly housing payment,” wrote Bryan. “It was a reminder that Hollywood, just like the rest of the country, is filled with support and service work positions. Jobs that you can’t do from home. Like millions of others, these are the folks that run the risk of suffering the most from the economic fallout of COVID-19. ”
Indeed, as reported by The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti, between delayed releases, theater closures, and halted projects, Hollywood has taken a beating like no other in recent weeks. Last year, the U.S. box office raked in $200 million in the final week of March; this year, just $5,000. Regardless of how long the shutdown lasts, there’s no telling when Tinseltown will be back to functioning normally.
But Zachery Bryan, who runs the production company Lost Lane Entertainment, feels that maybe Hollywood shouldn’t return to business-as-usual. In another op-ed published Friday, Bryan advocated that Hollywood help its working-class by practicing “conscious capitalism,” wherein studios and production companies give ownership opportunities for creative projects in the same way that corporations give employees stock options.
“Just like tech startups giving employees stock in the company, this type of royalty sharing in Hollywood allows the 99% to share in the long-term profits of their work,” argued Bryan. “A change that will finally allow hard-working and enterprising people at all levels of Hollywood the ability to move beyond economic vulnerability. Had this shift begun earlier, fewer of my hard-working colleagues in Hollywood would be in such a spot of financial uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, but it’s never too late to start and I plan to lead that charge.”
Speaking with The Daily Wire, Bryan argued that new video-on-demand (VOD) services will continue to put more control in the hands of creators, cutting out legions of middlemen – domestic and foreign sales agencies, distributors, lawyers, etc. – whose flat fees diminish a creative’s return on investment (ROI).
“This new VOD streaming model is direct to consumer, cutting out those middlemen in which the content creator gets direct sales and longterm streaming royalties,” Bryan told The Daily Wire. “This decentralizes the industry allowing for creators and filmmakers to basically become their own mini studios, and will allow them to invest profits back into future productions rather than constantly fundraising for their next endeavors.”
“By keeping more of the earnings, filmmakers can hire talent and crews by incentivizing them with ownership opportunities instead of just paying minimum union rates,” he continued. “Creating an environment where everyone reaps rewards based on the success of the movie/series.”
Though the pandemic has wreaked havoc on American culture, Bryan highlighted a silver lining: an outpouring of generosity from all walks of life, which he described as a “universal reset.”
“Without any necessary coercion from Bernie Sanders types, CEOs are skipping their salaries so that their employees can get paid, banks are offering small businesses debt forgiveness loans, as well as homeowners the opportunity to defer their mortgage payments,” he wrote. “Right now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has said that all foreclosures and evictions are suspended through the end of April 2020.”
People may dismiss such grand gestures of piety as mere PR stunts, but Bryan feels that the “impact of this crisis is too long and too deep” to simply allow for temporary changes, creating a whole new way of life that alters “our habits, our daily rhythms, and the way we think.”
“In my humble opinion, real change doesn’t come by heavy-handed policies and bureaucracy backed by government might,” he concluded. “It comes from the American people and the free market they created, adjusting and making changes to overcome crisis and catastrophes.”