I have been wondering how the Writers Guild strike would affect me and my writing partners. We’ve optioned a script to a major studio, but it was not covered under the WGA agreement, so we are not members of the guild. So, I wanted to get my own thoughts down on the matter and figure out what it does for us, personally.
Why the strike?
I’ll keep this brief as you can read about this just about anywhere online right now. But the main issue is over residuals from internet downloads. The writers got screwed in a deal in the mid-eighties over residuals from home video. It was a new technology, no one knew where it was going to go, so the writers agreed to a measly .3% of profits. This has not been raised since the eighties and probably never will be. DVD’s are now the bread and butter of the movie industry and writers make about 4 cents per DVD sold.
We are now dealing with internet downloads… it’s a new technology, no one knows where it’s going to go… but writers aren’t going to make the same mistake twice. Studios are offering .3% of internet downloads. Writers are asking for 2.5%. The writers would obviously settle for something in the middle, but the studios are not budgeting. Hence, the strike.
I’ve been asked a few times why writers need residuals anyways… don’t they make enough money as it is? Well, writing is not a full-time job. You may sell 3 scripts a year, or you may sell none. Residuals are what keeps writers going in that off season. And contrary to popular belief, not all writers are millionaires… most are middle class.
How does it affect us?
We’re not sure what it does to our project currently in development, “Church League.” I would imagine it would put that on hold as it is currently being rewritten by, what we can assume, are WGA members.
In a way, the strike could help us. Over the past 6 months we have been shopping a new script (as well as pimping ourselves as writers) to agents, producers, & managers. The response has been expectantly quiet. Being in Atlanta, we don’t have as many contacts as we’d like in L.A., but thanks to the world wide web, we’re able to make more every day. During this time period, agents and managers will not be busy with their normal clients because they are not working. But, there is a good chance they will be looking for new talent during this time. So, maybe we’ll start to get some phone calls returned.
I don’t know if these agents or managers can take us on during this period. It’d be pointless anyway since they couldn’t get us any work. But it is a great time to network and get to know new people who can help us out in the long run.
What are we doing in the meantime?
We’re continuing to write, write, & write. We’re currently working on a script that is something, even if we finished the script, we could film ourselves outside of WGA jurisdiction.
We have a backlog of ideas that we are dying to write. And, as long as we aren’t getting paid to write any of these ideas by a guild signatory company, we are free to write them.
I will spend a great deal of time writing “Strongsville” and work everyday on marketing that project as well.
And of course… we all have day jobs that we are eagerly trying to escape.