As hundreds of black-shirted SAG-AFTRA artists joined members of the Writers Guild of America outside the Netflix headquarters for the first day of a historic double walkout in Hollywood, the first in more than six decades, the actor and professional DJ Evan Shafran turned up the volume. Van Ness Ave. had queued up his remix of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” the chorus of which is purposefully underscored by a clip he had sampled from a news report from breaking television about the strike that took effect after the union was unable to agree to a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. As he periodically held one of his amps, like John Cusack in “Say Anything,” toward the broadcast giant’s office across the street, protesters urged him to say, “You’re killing it, dude.”
Shafran, 40, who has an underground following like every man and has played sets from Coachella to the Brooklyn Bowl, he has become a dedicated strike DJ since the WGA work stoppage began in May, creating hour-long curated protest-specific sets. (Playlists are available below.)
It made the rounds at Universal, Warner Bros., CBS Radford, and Paramount, where a studio official asked him to turn the volume down. (“I laughed at him”). But his adoptive home is Netflix, where he likes to remix pop songs like the Beatles’ “Revolution” and Marvin Gayes’ “What’s Going On” (looped with the line “pickets and picket signs”) with TV segments explaining what’s going on. high stakes and momentous nature of the work stoppage. ‘I like the sound of that specific style of TV reporter ‘voice’, as opposed to radio,” he explains. “It has a certain quality, that enunciation, and also you can hear it more clearly over the lower sound frequencies of the beat.”
Shafran has been out most days and is currently hauling his gear, including a Fender Passport Venue Series 2 portable PA system, via Uber because his car was stolen last week. He feels that music, both making and playing it, is necessary, both for the other participants (keeping them engaged during the deadlock of long shifts) and for himself. “Artists have to make art,” he says. “If we don’t, we’ll go crazy.”
Shafran, who is from the East Coast and has been pursuing his career in Los Angeles for 15 years, has ensured bit parts lately in shows like perry mason (as a dock worker), barry (a prisoner) and Contraction (an AA assistant). The following is a reservations officer in Barbie — that’s him taking Margot Robbie’s fingerprints in the trailer — and he’s also played small parts in other upcoming features, including as Eddie Murphy’s neighbor in the Christmas comedy. candy cane lane and a businessman in the mystery directed by Chris Pine pool man.
As for the SAG strike, “I can’t believe it’s come to this, and I’m particularly horrified and disgusted by the last two weeks, how [the AMPTP] we intentionally waste our time [with the contract negotiation extension]. He is sick and sadistic. They are trying to drive our union to the ground.”
Shafran hopes his contribution can help encourage determination on the picket lines. “No amount of money from the other side can beat our own positive energy, our own solidarity,” she insists. “When we are here, our networking improves. Do you know Six Degrees by Kevin Bacon? That’s something real, created over time, and it’s getting stronger, like a mail shield.”