Thursday, November 01, 2007

On the Outside Looking In on the WGA Strike

No article links. The contract expired almost 12 hours ago. In another 7, there will be the big meeting at the convention center to give the membership of the WGA the skinny on the negotiations and the strike. The strike is all but certain. The only detail seems to be when it will be called.

My money is on Monday. Give everyone tomorrow to clean out their desks and get their affairs in order. Then call the strike tomorrow night to start Monday. I could be wrong, but it feels logical to me (and who starts a strike on a Friday??)

What does it mean for us, the aspiring? We can't sell to WGA signatory companies if we want to have a chance in hell of joining the Guild. In '88 I hear there was some kind of amnesty, but I'm doubting that happens this time. The stakes are too high, and to forgive a bunch of scabs doesn't appear to be in the cards.

So what do we do? We keep writing our scripts, honing our craft, meeting in our writing groups, and we keep aspiring. We find other ways to get noticed that doesn't violate the strike -- work for non-sigs, go online, write a graphic novel, a book -- whatever it takes. When the strike ends, the flood will burst through and we will need to be ready to fight harder to get seen. I don't know if agents/managers will be looking for people, since we can't make them money from the sigs, which is their bread and butter. Still, I suppose it doesn't hurt to get some relationships started and nurtured for the time when we need them to blossom.

What do we do? We keep writing. And watching. And waiting. I'll be in support of our brethern. I've never been a huge advocate of unions, but there's something egregiously wrong with how writers are painted as greedy SOB's when they get treated worse than anyone and paid (in 99.5% of cases) worse than anyone involved with a film. TV is worse for residuals than film and looks to get worse if the studios don't pony up some dough for downloads above the approximately 4 to 5 cents per DVD rate writers receive today (or don't receive at all, depending on who's paying).

I'll do my best to post links to stories about the strike, but still -- the best place to read the news is Craig Mazin's site and Nikki Finke's blog. For the union viewpoint check out United Hollywood.

And of course you can always read the official press releases from the AMPTP and the WGA. Avoid the trades as they seem to be skewing to a pro-producer bias (gee, I wonder why -- they only depend on studio DEALS to report for their livelihoods).


Chesher Cat said...

A reliable source told me the amnesty is in effect for this and any other WGA strike...past, present and future.

Shawna said...

Color me skeptical on that. They certainly won't be *saying* that anytime soon. Maybe when this is all over, they will care more about their membership growing rather than scorning the scabs, but for now...not a position I want to be in, certainly.

Oh, and I hear the meeting was quite a pep rally. Press release tomorrow afternoon announcing when the strike starts. I still place bets on midnight Monday.

Shawn said...

Don't know about your source, but the WGA Strike Rules are very clear:

13. Rules pertaining to non-members 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. Therefore, it is important for you to report to the Guild the name of any non-member whom you believe has performed any writing services for a struck company and as much information as possible about the non-member's services.

Tread forth with supreme caution.

Isaac Ho said...

Hey Shawna:

During the last strike, many writers took the opportunity to write on spec for the day the strike ended.

However, that was twenty years ago. There is a good chance that when this is all over, the industry may be completely unrecognizable as viewers flock to other forms of entertainment and never come back.

For the non WGA writer, it's time for some serious out-of-the-box thinking because... well, that's where we live. Some of your suggestions above are great.

Whatever was our strategy to break in, we can't count on being able to pick up where we left off once this is resolved.

Cheshire Cat: Scab work is not the answer. It's a terrible way to begin a career.

Isaac Ho

Chesher Cat said...

"Cheshire Cat: Scab work is not the answer."

I never said it was...And I wasn't suggesting anyone become a scab. I was just passing on information that came from a long-time member.

~Chesher Cat