If you’re tapped into any screenwriting communities, you’ve probably heard by now that the screenwriters are striking. But what does this mean and what caused the strike? In this article, we are discussing everything you need to know about the WGA writers strike.
WHY ARE THE WRITERS STRIKING?
This isn’t the first time the WGA has gone on strike. There is a long history of the WGA battling for the rights of writers. The WGA (Writers Guild of America), simply put, is a union for writers. So while it may seem like the WGA is calling the shots, really it’s the writers. The WGA is in place to protect its members, the writers. So in order to even go on strike, the members must take a vote. So why are the writers striking?
The WGA was in multi-month long negotiation with the AMPTP, who represents major movie studios like Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Paramount Pictures, as well as television networks and streaming platforms like Netflix, Apple TV+, and Prime Video. The negotiations are regarding the streamers and equal pay across the board. A little film school lesson here, all of the streamers are owned by studios. For example, Universal owns Peacock and Warner Media owns HBOMax. They are the parent company. When a writer writes an episode of television, they are paid x amount of money depending on their level (these set amounts have also been previously negotiated by the WGA). When that episode plays again, or reruns, the writer receives what is called a residual. This is money that the writer gets when their episode is aired. Here’s where the trouble starts—streamers. The amount that a writer is paid when an episode airs on a network, for example, Abbot Elementary on ABC is in the thousands. But now that Abbot Elementary can not only be viewed on Hulu, and now HBOMax, the writer’s residual goes down drastically. One writer was quoted as making $20,000 per episode to just $23 when landing on a streamer.
Let’s be frank, streamers have taken over and many of the practices of Hollywood are quite archaic. Not to mention, the world’s largest gated community (Hollywood) is known for pinching pennies. The landscape of how we consume television has changed but not the pay structure. See the issue here?
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
Well first, you might not be seeing any new episodes of your favorite TV show for a while. If you were looking to get staffed or any writers room support staff roles, that may be on pause for some time too. But if you’re an aspiring professional screenwriter you should be standing in solidarity with the WGA! Stay up-to-date on the strike and look for ways you can support. There are several pickets happening in LA, if you’re local, join one! There is no telling how long the strike will last. You can join the fight here.
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