On July 14, the Screen Actors Guild joined the ongoing strike action that the Writers Guild of America began in May. Both groups seek higher wages, residual payments when viewers watch episodes on streaming services, and the establishment of formal rules around the role of AI in the entertainment industry. The combination of the two strikes effectively paused most scripted Hollywood productions—perhaps for a long time to come. No union writers meant that projects in development were largely halted, while no union actors means that even projects that are already written can’t proceed. But here in Hollywood, Texas, there are a handful of exceptions. 

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors, grants waivers on an individual basis for independent projects that don’t involve struck companies—not all productions are made by organizations that are members of the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, and indie work has long been crucial to the entertainment industry. In theory, at least, it’s a win-win for the union. Some of its members can continue working even as the strike action continues against the industry’s biggest players, while high-powered (and highly paid) executives are left watching as projects they’re not involved in keep going, providing leverage to the union by demonstrating alternatives. (In practice, many of the independent projects will eventually be sold to the same companies against whom the unions are striking, but that’s an issue for a later date.) As of July 19, forty-five projects across the country have sought and obtained those waivers—a number of which are either Texas made or at least Texas adjacent. Here’s an overview of the Texans who, with the blessing of their union, are working through the dual strikes. 


Friday Night Lights’ Kyle Chandler leads the cast of this dystopian political thriller (which also includes Grapevine native Mckenna Grace). Details on the project are scarce, but it doesn’t appear to be particularly Texan beyond the presence of Coach. The film centers on a family that is “torn apart” by a political movement called the Change that sweeps the U.S. It’s unclear exactly how Anniversary qualified for the waiver, as the film is a coproduction with Lionsgate, but either way, the plot sounds grim! 

Bob Trevino Likes It

The debut feature from Houston native and University of Texas at Austin alum Tracie Laymon, Bob Trevino Likes It is a true indie with no announced cast yet. The plot centers around a young woman who, while searching for her estranged father online, forms a close bond with another man who has the same name. Laymon’s been in the game for a bit, working mostly on short films and television, so we’ll be curious to learn more about this one—it’s unclear where exactly it is in the production process, but since the project applied for a waiver, it’ll likely start rolling soon. 

The Chosen (season four)

The Chosen is famously independent, although distribution deals for the first three seasons of the series include struck companies Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Peacock. No such deal has been signed for the show’s fourth season, which is currently shooting in Utah before returning to its Midlothian base for further production. Accordingly, the ongoing Jesus biopic is the first television project to receive a production waiver. 


A casting notice for background actors for the horror-comedy pitched Ick as Shaun of the Dead meets The Blob. It also promises an A-list cast and an A-list director, though no names are publicly attached to those roles. A report last month from Brenham radio station KWHI-AM noted that the project will be filming downtown in the home of Blue Bell Creameries in early August, while the bulk of the shooting appears to be set for Houston. 

Mother Mary

Dallas area filmmaker David Lowery is one of the highest-profile Texas directors working today, and not all of his projects are indies—his most recent feature was the live-action Peter Pan & Wendy for Disney+, his second project for the entertainment behemoth after his 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon. Lowery built his name on emotionally charged indies, though, including A Ghost Story, The Old Man & the Gun, and The Green Knight—all for ultrahip indie distributor A24 (which isn’t among the struck companies). He’s working with A24 again on Mother Mary, which stars Anne Hathaway and I May Destroy You star Michaela Coel in a film about the relationship between a fashion designer and a musician. 

The Rivals of Amziah King

Oklahoma director Andrew Patterson sold his directorial debut, The Vast of Night, to Amazon after winning an audience award at the Slamdance Film Festival. He’s back in his home state for the follow-up, a crime thriller that pairs him with Matthew McConaughey, in the title role. The project is financed by Black Bear Pictures, an independent company with an impressive track record, having previously backed Oscar nominees The Imitation Game and Mudbound, as well as McConaughey’s 2016 feature Gold

The Short Game

Another true indie, The Short Game is both set and shot in Sherman, near the Oklahoma border, under the direction of local writer/director Frank Sanza. It is, as you may have guessed, a golf movie, about a teen golf star putting for a scholarship and for his younger brother.