WGA STRIKE INFO

The WGA (Writers Guild of America) is currently on Strike, as protest and discussing negotiations with the Big Wig Corporate- whoever the hell that currently is, for better wages, minimums, and residuals for their work. I particularly am one of the most indecisive people when it comes to pay and politics- I’m personally a “Harmonist” or something of the sort if a term could ever be applied. However, this is the first time anything of this variety has come to my attention at a personal, creative, business, and just plain everyday interest level.

I am a young film maker. I make movies. I occasionally “write” but usually we improvise concepts. In any case though, this will effect myself, my friend Dan Gvozden and a lot of the other people who I know that are trying to get into this industry. So for a change, I’m paying attention.

So should you, anyone who reads this site, who comes across it with a real interest in the industry. Here is the start to John August’s blog about the subject- a cause for which he’s out in the cold picketing for. Some people think he’s a moron for doing this, some people think he’s a Saint. I personally feel he is just a guy trying to get a better break and have his voice heard for what he wants to do. If it helps, it helps. If it doesn’t- artists will manage- they always find a way even in Nazi Germany.

I’ve largely avoided talking about contract negotiations and the strike,1 because I have no particular insight. I’m not on the WGA Board, nor the negotiating committee. But because I’m one of the higher-profile screenwriters, people give whatever I say unwarranted authority. And you know, I’m all about authority.

Now that we’re at the 23rd hour, I can clarify a little bit more about what’s going on, and where I stand.

Last night, I went to the largest WGA meeting in history, held at the Convention Center downtown. The negotiating committee explained the progress (and lack of progress) in negotiations with the AMPTP, and confirmed that a strike would be occurring. Representatives from helpful allies, including SAG and the Teamsters, also spoke. I was encouraged by the thoughtfulness of the negotiating committee, who are dedicated to achieving a fair deal without unwarranted suffering.

If you know absolutely nothing about the issues — or if you have to explain it to your grandmother, who’s upset that her favorite soap opera is off the air — here’s my very short summary of the situation.

*Writers for film and television are paid a small fee when the things they write (movies and television shows) are shown again on re-runs or DVD. These are called residuals, and they’re much like the royalties a novelist or a songwriter gets.

* Residuals are a huge part of how writers are able stay in the business. These quarterly checks pay the mortgage, particularly between jobs.

*There’s widespread belief that the rate paid to writers for DVD’s is too low. It was set 20 years ago, when DVD was a nascent and expensive technology. DVD’s are now cheap and hugely profitable, yet the rate remains fixed.

*Downloads will eventually supplant DVD’s. That’s why it’s crucial to set a fair rate for them now, and avoid the same trap of “let’s wait and see.”

*There are other creative and jurisdictional issues (such as animation and reality television) which are also on the table. According to the AMPTP, residuals are the major stumbling block, however.2

I would honestly post more of his blog, but then I’d feel like I was committing plagiarism, instead I’ll just post my comment (#88)- but PLEASE read everyone else’s if you have a spar hour and you want to be a part of this industry. It’s VERY important to your future!

I’ve been reading this blog for nearly a straight hour now (this one post in particular), and have found this to be the most fascinating thing I’ve come into contact with in the last couple of months. This is the first political/economic movement that I’ve ever actually felt like I’m at least somewhat a part of.

Student Film Maker, somewhat an enthusiast of the digital medium, I totally suck at managing my website but put stuff up on their (should be something new and craptastic but with equal amounts of love put in it up tomorrow), only because of the immense love I have for doing this. Though, quite frankly, I feel I’m starting to burn out on film making a bit too much.

There are a LOT of young people finally getting into film making now that it has become available to them and I see this Strike as something every damned one of them should read. I’m going to link this blog as much as I can, to my site and to my facebook group for Future Film Makers, and to all the places I know people read whatever little I write (I’m not one for blogging much).

I shall do this because the medium of film is just one gigantic mystery- no one really knows how pay works for anyone. The most clear cut explanation of how someone in the industry has ever been paid is the Salary section of IMDB for actors. The only one of which is accurately displayed, in my opinon, is Jack Nicholson’s info on getting a #^%t load of money for the Batman film from 1989. How do writers get paid? Do you have any money to look forward to as a young, aspired child of this future industry?

Money is going to be made on the internet, a BIG load of money in a few years. The guys from Red vs. Blue, this one group I know called Westhavenbrook.com, Ashens.com and a bunch of other people who syndicate themselves through Youtube and get squat for it (or do they through links to their own work embedded in the videos themselves?) are the future of the medium. My biggest hero of film making in just last two months went from Clint Eastwood to Eisenstein, so I’m diving backwards, but let’s face it- there’s more ignorance about this industry than almost any industry out there.

So, in conclusion to this very muddled and space-consuming statement I’ve laid forth, I really just have one thing to ask:

Let’s not fire rhetoric, verbose insults or even “claims” of what you know about how this is going to “affect” the “future” for a moment. Could some people out there, who TRULY know, like John, Paula, and a few others who have made it clear that they have insight, EXPLAIN how, at the core (yes I know too many commas), this industry works ALREADY in terms of pay. Not from a good angle, or a bad angle, just from this angle: “This is how this industry works as of now.” I’m really interested in that. Sorry I can’t be more specific- it’s 3:10 in the morning (TO YUMA!) and I’ve just read through over 85 comments.

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  • I was watching that on TV. All I really have to say about it though is, “Good for them”. Digital Distribution is going to become big in the future, and they really do deserve a good share of the profits there (as well as from DVDs).