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Topic: The Strike

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 11/05/07 05:11 PM

How will this affect us? Any opinions?

Heather

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 11/06/07 10:19 AM

Heather,

That seems to be a complex question. Most of us here are not members of the WGA as of yet, but as most of us would like to be, it is of great interest to us.

Not only are the other unions, like SAG and the Teamsters supporting the strike, but soon the DGA and SAG will be negotiating their own deals with the Producers Assoc. for similar deals. The producers will think long and hard about what they will be willing to give to the writers if it means the same to both the Director's Guild and the Actor's Guild.

I just hope greed, on all parties accounts, will not make this a long strike. A long strike will be detrimental to everyone, even those just outside the inner circle of influence. Everyone suffers from lack of work.

Just like the last SAG strike, you can be sure that Canada will be doing it's best to take advantage of it. During the previous SAG strike, Canada spent a lot of money to build their infrastructure and lure production out of California (and other cities like Dallas as well). The incentives were so good that production stayed even after the strike as over.

Let's hope that the strike can be resolved soon and so many people out of work now will be able to get back to work. I hope that the finger pointing will end as well.

Author: Douglas Knox Posted: 11/06/07 10:35 AM

We will probably have to watch reruns.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/06/07 02:29 PM

The "How will this affect us?" depends on what aspect you're asking about.

For the rights and pay of writers? Hopefully the strike will be very beneficial. There's a great deal of unity on the part of the writers and they have many other unions supporting them too. I don't know if you live in LA, but take my word for it, production here is grinding to a halt. This is hitting every level of the film and television industry (except for post-production, but they'll be feeling it soon). I actually need to get into Warner Bros tonight, but I don't want to cross a picket line.

As for non-WGA writers who are trying to break into the industry...

It's a mixed bag. Producers and studios aren't buying anything so all careers are on hold. As such, agents aren't trying to sell anything.

But there is the chance that agents are still reading scripts. They have a lot of time on their hands now and while some are going on vacation, some are catching up on their workload. There MIGHT be more of a chance for an agent to take an honest look at a query or submission. A chance.

It's hard to say if the door is open or closed.

Now, has anyone heard anything about the scab industry? As far as I can tell, everyone is just shutting down and not even hiring scab writers. Has anyone heard of non-WGA writers getting work now? I see all sorts of ads on craigslist from people who are seeing this opportunity as their big break, but I can't tell if anything is coming from that.

Author: Terry Frazier Posted: 11/06/07 03:31 PM

Can someone tell us how the strike affects sales of scripts to European prodcos? For example, are some European prodcos WGA signatories? Most? None?

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/06/07 04:57 PM

Hey Terry,

I hope the link works, but here's a list of all the companies besides the major studios that WGA is striking against.

http://www.wga.org/subpage_member.aspx?id=2537

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 11/07/07 04:04 AM

Well here's the link to the Writer's Guild of Canada's take on it.

http://www.wgc.ca/files/Message%20to%20WGC%20Members%20final%20w%20sigs.pdf

Basically none of the WGC members are allowed to sell or contract to U.S. WGA signatory companies.

As for us independents, it's just asking to be treated without respect as writers to do business with the signatories during this strike. The very thing the strike is about.

Not worth it in my books.

And for the person asking how this affects European markets and companies, check into your literary guilds. Their websites should have the info for you.

In the meantime, people haven't stopped looking, that's for sure. I've had 8 hits on one of my screenplays up on Inktip today. Or, rather yesterday.

So, like it's been said, don't stop writing, networking and getting your work out there. And let the strike take care of itself. When it's done, :-) it just may be a better writing world.

:-) Orlanda

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 11/07/07 06:36 PM

Do you think it's okay to send a letter to an actor's agent during the strike for a script that has already been written?

Not sure where to look for that kind of info.

Author: Terry Frazier Posted: 11/07/07 10:37 PM

It's my understanding that you can and should continue marketing your scripts as though there were no strike (including signatory companies). Producers will be reading scripts when they're no longer producing. You can't sign any contracts with WGA signatory companies, but they can still read your stuff.

If I'm wrong, please correct me. My opinion is based on chatter, not research.

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 11/08/07 12:12 AM

I'm not sure about marketing yourself to producers, but you should definitely be marketing yourself to agents. No one's striking against the agents, but they're caught in the middle anyway. They really have nothing to do.

Producers?... That's dicey, but I don't know what the actual rules are, especially with non-WGA writers (who, naturally, aren't bound by rules).

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 11/08/07 05:51 AM

The simple fact is, you can pitch and have anyone you can get to read your work.

You just can't sign a writing contract of any kind with a WGA signatory production company, or affiliate. I'm not sure of the affiliates. If they are independent and not WGA themselves, it should be fine. But, it could later get caught up in a legal battle if the contract date falls before the strike was settled.

This is how I have interpreted the rules so far. I'll see if I can dig anything else up.

Has anyone actually talked to WGA? That'll give us the clearest picture.

:-)

Author: Orlanda Szabo Posted: 11/09/07 05:45 AM

Hey guys the WGA site has a 38 page list of all struck production companies. Check it out.

I am amazed at how few of them are in the Hollywood Creative Directory. I am also blown away by how many big companies are not WGA signatories.

:-) Orlanda

Author: Colin Costello Posted: 11/09/07 04:05 PM

I guess it's all hit or miss. Some companies I know of are sending all scripts back to writers and not taking a look at anything until after the strike.

Author: Doug Solter Posted: 11/09/07 09:55 PM

There's a strike?

Author: Martin Stack Posted: 11/09/07 11:03 PM

Here's a little snippet on the topic from InkTip's newsletter:

>>Many of you are concerned about the WGA strike and what to do with your scripts during this time.

Our suggestion for non-WGA writers: never stop marketing your work or yourself, ever. Remember, the writers who get hired and the scripts that get sold AFTER the strike are going to be the writers who were discovered and the scripts that were read DURING the strike (non-WG writers).

And WG writers can use this as a great opportunity to seek representation, as the WG signatory agents are not considered 'struck companies.'

So don't stop promoting yourself during the strike to non-struck companies if you are not a WG member, and if you are, then only to representatives. >>

Marty

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 11/10/07 09:25 AM

Marty,

That is probably the best advice I have heard yet. Thanks for adding that information from Ink Tip.

Rsqrd

Author: John Arends Posted: 11/10/07 11:25 AM

Folks,

Here's the latest advice on this from Creative Screenwriting weekly e-newsletter, CS Weekly:

The Answers You Seek: The WGA Strike FAQ

By Peter Clines

CS Weekly tries to clear up some of the mystery and questions surrounding the WGA strike.

The writers strike has left many aspiring writers a bit confused about where they stand and what they're allowed to do. In the days leading up to the strike, and especially in the days since, dozens of questions have popped up on message boards, in live chats, and some have even been emailed directly to our offices. CS Weekly has spent the past week prodding experts and gnawing through the WGA's block of strike rules (available for download here) to provide our readers with simple, straightforward answers to their questions. In the days and weeks to come, we'll add to this list on our website. Check for updates here.

Why is the WGA striking? What's the issue? There are two main issues that the WGA wants addressed. First is the residuals paid to writers for the sale of DVDs (established after the 1988 strike at four cents per sale), which they would like increased to eight cents. It's worth noting that just before the strike, the WGA removed this proposal from the table, but negotiations ceased almost immediately afterwards.

The second issue is the increasing use of the internet as a medium for both viewing and sales. At present, since this is new territory, writers are paid nothing when their work is "aired" online. The WGA wants to establish payment and residual guidelines for material used or sold in this way.

Does the strike affect every studio in Hollywood? No, it does not. The WGA is striking against the specific studios that it has signatory agreements with, a complete list of which is available here on the Guild's website. There are still several production companies that operate independent of the WGA, which are often referred to as non-signatory companies.

What is a signatory company? Signatory companies have agreed to the terms of the WGA's Basic Agreement. These terms include minimum pay rates, pension and health plan contributions, and residuals. All of the major studios and networks have signed this agreement with the Guild. During the strike, all signatory companies are being struck.

What is a scab? Anyone who performs screenwriting services of any kind for a struck company is considered a scab, whether they are a Guild member or not. Guild members who scab write will be punished, while non-members will be barred from future membership.

Can I sell to a non-signatory company? WGA writers cannot write or sell work during the strike, but non-guild writers can still sell to non-signatory companies, since this violates neither side of the signatory agreements.

I'm not a member. Can I still sell to struck companies, or does that make me a scab? Non-member writers who sell scripts or perform any sort of screenwriting work for struck companies will be considered scabs and barred from future membership.

I won a screenwriting contest that promises money and production as their prize, but what if they don't pay me until after the strike starts? Am I a scab? If the production company that would make the movie is one of the struck companies, then, yes, this would be scab work.

I'm a non-guild member, someone bought my first script and I've already signed a contract. Can I still do rewrites? If the purchasing company is a struck company, doing rewrites would violate the strike and be considered scab work. Guild members who perform scab writing will be punished, while non-members will be barred from future membership.

A company in another country wants to buy one of my scripts. Would that make me a scab? There are signatory companies outside of the country. If the purchasing company is a struck company, selling a script would violate the strike and be considered scab work. Guild members who perform scab writing will be punished, while non-members will be barred from future membership.

Can I just work for free now and get paid later? The point of the strike is not to perform any work, not to avoid being paid for work. Anyone who performs screenwriting services of any kind for a struck company is considered a scab. Guild members who scab write will be punished, while non-members will be barred from future membership.

Can I still try to get an agent or a manager during the strike? Yes, you can. Some reps have even said they'll be using the time they aren't working on deals or contracts to catch up on their reading and submissions. However, others warn that they are focusing even harder on their existing clients to be ready once the strike ends. In short, the challenge will still be attracting someone's attention with good writing.

The WGA says if I scab I can never be a member, but aren't all the studios allowed to buy specs from non-members anyway? Technically, this is true. However, non-guild members cannot be hired for any assignments or other writing work once the strike ends, receive no benefits, and have no retirement plan.

Will joining picket lines get me into the WGA? No. While the writers appreciate any support, the normal rules and requirements for WGA membership are still in effect.

How long will the strike last? No one can say for sure. Many industry experts are already predicting five or six months, while some hold out hope for a quicker resolution. At the moment, neither side has announced plans to resume negotiations.

Does this mean I'll never learn how Sylar lost his powers? Possibly. Several television series have already stopped filming for both political and practical reasons, while others will continue to make episodes as long as they still have scripts. Some showrunners (such as Tim Kring of Heroes) made last minute changes before the strike began so their shows can have a degree of closure if there is an extended work stoppage.

Author: Yara da Silva-Heying Posted: 11/10/07 01:45 PM

We are writers are we not? I think we should stick together and support the WGA even though a lot of us are not members but we want to be and the writers are fighting for ALL WRITERS even the ones on spec.

Author: Yara da Silva-Heying Posted: 11/10/07 01:45 PM

We are writers are we not? I think we should stick together and support the WGA even though a lot of us are not members but we want to be and the writers are fighting for ALL WRITERS even the ones on spec.

Author: Yara da Silva-Heying Posted: 11/10/07 01:45 PM

We are writers are we not? I think we should stick together and support the WGA even though a lot of us are not members but we want to be and the writers are fighting for ALL WRITERS even the ones on spec.

Author: Ilona Paschen Posted: 11/14/07 05:16 AM

I live in Australia and am a member of the Australian Writer's Guild (AWG). Here is the statement that was issued by them last week:

U.S. SCREENWRITERS CALL STRIKE – AUSTRALIAN WRITERS' GUILD PLEDGES SUPPORT

The Australian Writers’ Guild pledges support to our colleagues in the Writers Guild of America who have voted to go on strike as of 12.01am Monday November 5, 2007.

The 12,000 members of the Writers Guild of America are striking to increase minimum payments when writing for new media and increase residual payments for DVD sales, internet downloads and mobile phone transmissions.

Nearly 3,000 WGA members packed the Los Angeles Convention Center last week for what became the largest membership meeting in WGA history, where writers expressed their anger at the production companies’ refusal to bargain seriously.

‘We call on our members – and all Australian writers – to refuse to break the strike by filling in for striking US writers’ said AWG Executive Director Jacqueline Woodman.

‘Strikebreaking to get work in Hollywood may be seen by some as a career opportunity or simply a short-term payday, but taking work in America at this time would completely end any chance of a future U.S. career.’

Under Australian trade union laws the AWG cannot issue a strike instruction or discipline any members who defy the strike. Woodman points out, however, that solidarity is a strong motivator for Australian writers. During the last WGA strike in 1988, there was solid support by Australian writers, with very few cases of strikebreaking and we fully expect the same support this time.

And for those few unswayed by solidarity, self interest may convince them. Rule 13 of the WGA Strike Rules states:

‘The Guild does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the Guild and its members during a strike.’

Without WGA membership, it is virtually impossible for a writer to work for the major networks and studios in the USA.

Woodman also points out that the Australian Writers’ Guild, along with the writers’ guilds of Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa among others - is a signatory to the “Auckland Declaration”, signed in 2000, which states:

‘To the greatest extent permitted by contract and law, the guilds pledge to honor work stoppages, publicize information about work stoppages to their respective memberships, and to lend all aid possible to each other in support of negotiating goals.’

‘This means not only do we strongly advise our members not to engage in strikebreaking, if we learn of any cases of strikebreaking either by AWG members or non-members, we will not hesitate to inform the WGA so that they can investigate according to their rules’ said Woodman.

The AWG is currently fighting similar battles at home and wholeheartedly supports our U.S. colleagues in fighting for a fair deal.

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 11/14/07 09:49 AM

My agent (acting) sent me the following report. Not sure of the source.

12 November 2007

Studios Operating at a Loss, Says Report Back-end participation deals with top directors, producers and actors, in which they receive a percentage of a movie's gross -- regardless of whether it is profitable -- have been principally responsible for pushing the movie industry into an annual loss, according to a report produced by research company Global Media Intelligence and Merrill Lynch and reported by today's (Monday) New York Times. In its report about the study, the newspaper commented that it may be particularly relevant during the current writers' strike. "As it turns out, the pot of money that the producers and writers are fighting over may have already been pocketed by the entertainment industry's biggest talent," the Times said. The study examined releases last year that yielded $23.7 billion from sales to domestic theaters, foreign theaters, home video, pay television and every other source of income. Total costs for those films, however, amounted to $25.6 billion -- or a combined loss of $1.9 billion. The loss, the study determined was due partly to a 15.5-percent decline in foreign DVD sales, but "the real killer," said the Times was the growth in participations, which totaled an estimated $3 billion. By comparison, the newspaper noted, citing WGA figures, total residuals for the year amounted to $121.3 million, while a single actor could easily earn $70 million from a so-called first-dollar gross deal on a hit movie. And such deals amount to super-residuals. As Steven Blume, CEO of Content Partners, a company that buys participations for cash, told the Times. "These participations are paid in perpetuity."

Author: Terry Frazier Posted: 11/17/07 04:27 AM

This just in:

Hollywood film and TV writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will return to contract negotiations on Nov. 26th.

Author: Earl Clark Posted: 11/18/07 03:24 PM

‘The Guild does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the Guild and its members during a strike.’

Without WGA membership, it is virtually impossible for a writer to work for the major networks and studios in the USA.

How is intimidation like this NOT considered discipline? "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 11/25/07 12:23 PM

Please visit the following new website as of Monday.

SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com

Randy

Author: Sean Riordan Posted: 11/25/07 12:31 PM

Regarding back end participation by actors, I remember a few years ago when Bruce Willis blamed the high budgets of films on the high wages paid to Teamsters and crew members. Good call, Bruce, go cash that $20 million dollar check.

Author: Terri Dickey Posted: 11/26/07 03:09 PM

I have a few things to comment on.

Yes, of course, it doesn't help that there are a few Actors who get paid a ridiculous amount of money. I, myself, actually get into a movie MORE when it contains unrecognizable talent, i.e., John Sayles' "Matewan." Has anyone here ever seen Christopher Nolan's first film he wrote, directed and shot--"Following"? WOW! And I mean quadruple WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

QUOTE: As Steven Blume, CEO of Content Partners, a company that buys participations for cash, told the Times. "These participations are paid in perpetuity."

I'm confused here because I had always assumed that an Actor's, Director's, Writer's, etc. participation in a film was "perpetuity."

Having worked in Entertainment Law, I then discovered that, most often, it is NOT. Usually, participation is only around 18 months (depending on the Contract, of course).

Then, during a limited amount of time, the person has a right to ask for an Audit if they feel there has been some discrepencies in what they received re: their "participation" (as in NOT satisfied in what the film's Statements perceive).

So I'm confused by this statement. Maybe Mr. Blume and I are NOT discussing the same thing.

This next section has to do with something Heather asked. Heather, I'd be very interested to know if you've had luck with this.

I've ALWAYS had an Actor, Writer, etc., call me up personally after I contacted their Agent. But it was NEVER regarding a script. Well, I take that back.

MANY years ago, a top TV Actor's Agent at WMA (to be honest, I haven't heard squat re: this Actor for sooooooooo many years--don't even know if he's still alive) called me several times re: a script I wrote (don't ask me why, but I NEVER called her back).

Having worked with Agents and Entertainment Attorneys, I can basically tell you that it's a waste of time to write to an Actor's Agent re: a script. Unless it's through an Agent or Ent. Attorney--they won't respond, except with maybe a standard brush-off letter.

There have been a LOT of law suits recently (that I haven't even seen reported in the trades) re: top Actors and their film companies being sued for scripts that they produced--and were "supposedly" somebody else's. I know of several who settled out of court--and maybe that's why we hear "nothing." Which REALLY surprises me.

They're becoming more and more guarded with their "legal bull dogs."

Personally, even though you've had success, I think you would probably come across as someone "who doesn't know how to play the game."

Author: Terri Dickey Posted: 11/26/07 03:20 PM

Here's something I thought I should add re: my response to Heather's question.

As you've probably experienced, many times (which has surprised me, especially considering WHO they were), the Contact # in SAG for an Actor--is their actual phone number.

Yes, I have been SHOCKED!

Someone in my building did actually call an Actor who had a phone number listed and he called her back and even came here to pick up a script of hers.

Yes, this Actor was HOT when he was young (probably because he was HOT-looking). And I have seen him in the last few years in movies--but we're talking BELOW B MOVIES (and very few). Definitely not anything that got theatrical distribution.