November 5 2007

Writer’s Guild of America on strike

Writer's Guild of AmericaI have never been big on the whole concept of strikes. Maybe it’s because every one I have ever encountered, I didn’t fully grasp. The Writer’s Guild of America strike though I can relate to, and I have to say I would gladly stand with them.

As of this morning, screenwriters for TV and movies are on the picket line. It is all over money, but understandably so.

As it currently stands, the average writer makes $.04 on the sale of a DVD, they are asking for an increase to $.08. The shocking portion though isn’t the DVDs, it’s legal digital downloads. As it currently stands, writers are paid no royalties on the sale of downloads.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero.

The studios are refusing to budge on downloads, or they are asking for a “no residual” window that would kill the highest portion of download sales, leaving the writers with next to nothing.

I have always felt that writer’s get the shaft, and it’s about time they stood up to the studios. A writer in a good year, an exceptional year, will make around $200,000. Yes, that is most than more Americans, but when you compare it to what directors, actors, producers, studio heads and so on earn, it’s a pittance.

Hollywood has always seemed to not grasp, nor appreciate, how important to the process writers are. If it wasn’t for their concepts, their words, all of these all-star directors and actors would do a lot of standing around. All you have to do is look at any film’s poster to grasp the problem. Why does the director’s name go with the title? Take Transformers for instance. Why does it say “A Michael Bay film”? And I’m not picking on just Mr. Bay, this happens all the time, and it has always irked me.

But, I digress. It’s been 20 years since the writers went out on strike, and at that time it lasted for 5-months. In most cases you won’t notice it happening for a while, but as of tonight, all the nightly talk shows will be in repeats. Prime time shows are filmed months in advance, so those will be okay in to early next year, and film studios stockpiled scripts in anticipation.

This could be a long one as both sides are very set in their demands, and, like I said, I side with the writers. If the studio makes money from their work, then they deserve a cut. To think otherwise is just insane on the part of executives.

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