WGA strike, Spec deals and Phil in the newsPhil Parker Screenwriting News International Screenwriters Association, ISA, Phil Parker, screenwriters, screenwriting, spec deals, WGA strike
WGA STRIKE LOOMS… SOME HOPE BLOOMS.
The odds stacked against a screenwriter in today’s movie/ television world are pretty daunting. Beyond the everyday challenges of an outsider getting a script noticed in an ocean full of competitors, this month the Writer’s Guild of America is proposing a writer’s strike. Now, screenwriters who are not members of the Guild might think this doesn’t affect them, but it does.
The aim of the WGA strike is to ensure that the rules of the game for the field most screenwriters want to play on are made more fair. The WGA are akin to team managers/ agents negotiating on behalf of players with a sport’s league’s body corporate. It can be a bloody battle, as it was in 2007, with lots of collateral damage throughout the film and TV industry (read this LA Times article for a glimpse of that), but unions were created for exactly this kind of thing – protecting the rights or workers. And while for viewers this might be the ‘Golden Age of TV’, for screenwriters and TV writers, things are bleak, and are only going to get worse.
That’s why the WGA must fight to hold the studios and streaming giants accountable when it comes to fair remuneration for writers. Just imagine you, the screenwriter, have beaten the odds and gotten your script noticed or sold. Suddenly, you’ve got a foot on that playing field. Now imagine, that after that titanic struggle, you find out the rules of the game are rigged against you and your chances of making a livable wage as a writer are almost impossible.
That’s where writers are now. Sure, there are lots more TV series getting made (feature writers, not so lucky), but each series has fewer episodes than before, and with writers tied to one show at a time, and residual calculations not keeping up with technology, middle-class writers are struggling. So let’s pray the WGA strike can help all current and future members by adjusting the rules of the game, so players can stay on the field, and future hopefuls can remain hopeful.
Amidst this doom and gloom however, I did happen upon a couple of encouraging pieces of news:
- Scott Meyers, over at The Black List’s blog, noted this week that the 22nd spec script deal of 2017 just happened. There were 16 spec script deals in 2016, so that’s a 27% increase year on year. Hope lives!
- That 22nd spec deal was for a contained thriller based on a short film that went viral. Looks intriguing.
- On a more personal note, the International Screenwriter’s Association featured me in their March Newsletter and has given me a place of honor on their Development Program’s website list of success stories. I’m truly humbled. Hopefully I can continue to earn my place amidst such talented writers.