05 November 2007
Effective 12:01 AM on Monday 5 November, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) stands in strike of the Association of Motion Picture and television producers (AMPTP).
The majority of folks reading this blog are part of the screenwriting world, so they understand well what's going on and why, but there are many other civilians" out there who probably wonder what the hell this is all about.
Bottom line: money.
Currently, when a movie is sold in DVD form, the writers earn residuals at the rate of .0362 percent. In other words, for every DVD sold, the writers—the people who wrote the words spoken and came up with that story and the characters and the descriptions of every moment on that screen—get approximately four cents.
Four cents. The company that puts the shrink-wrap on the clamshell case makes more than the writers who created every character, line, and visual in that movie.
But it gets better: what do the studios propose to pay from now on for internet residuals?
It's hard to sustain a career on those kinds of earnings.
So there is now a strike, which means that no professional writers are allowed to work on any new TV or film projects until a new collective bargaining agreement has been signed.
If you are a screenwriter (pro or aspiring), stay informed and abreast of what's going on out in Hollywood. These next few weeks will determine the landscape of your working life for the next twenty years.
if you are just a fan of TV and movies, please do some research and see what's going on and why. this is not a case of some overcompensated Hollywood writers whining about their second million dollars for some awful movie. This is about the thousands of creative folks whose ability to have a life and career is being threatened by CEOs now paying themselves bonuses of 50 and 80 million dollars even as they claim "there's not enough money to pay you guys, too!"
Go check the websites for the major networks and the major studios and see for yourself how big a push they are putting behind direct online distribution and sales of the creative products conceived by writers, and then be sure to note all the advertising on those sites and consider if that ad space was donated to the studios, and then consider the fact that there is zero production cost in making a million copies of an episode of LOST or FANTASTIC FOUR to be sold for download at 5 or 10 or 15 bucks a pop.
I want to write movies. More than anything else in my life, that's what I want to do.
I just don't think I should be expected to do this as an act of charity.