Monday, December 03, 2007

Writer's Strike

What makes the writers so special that they deserve better treatment than practically everyone else in the filmmaking process? Shouldn't all of those important to a production be treated the same? I realize writers are an important part of any show, but so are many other people.

Companies and studios should compensate people for their work. However, I'm in the group that believes that if you are paid fairly for your time, then that is it. You are done. Why should residuals keep coming to you? I don't think the designers of a Ford Mustang are getting residuals even though that car is still being sold. Our how about the guy who invented the flavor of a soda or food, should he get residuals? Stupid examples, but you get my point.

There are exceptions to everything out there. And here is my exception. If a writer went to studio XYZ with an already created script and sold it. Then perhaps I can see why residuals should be used. Especially if he wasn't paid standard (whatever that means) rates. However, if the guy is working staff or hired to carry out someone else's idea, I don't believe residuals should come into play. Admittedly, I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to what the writers get and what they want, maybe that is already the case.

I've been keeping quiet on this subject, but I'm sick of seeing the YouTube videos and reading the editorials. The woe-is-me writers are starting to get annoying.


jason said...

Here's the thing.. if the producers and ceos of these companies keep getting paid when the shows are shown.. then why shouldn't everyone else keep getting paid as well?

I think the writer's strike is a great START to what should be part of everyone's deal.

I mean seriously.. if I bust my ass to do the best quality work possible to make something WORTH people viewing on the internet, through dvds, through promotional blah blah blah.. shouldn't I get a cut of the profits that the producers/ceo's/etc are getting?

dray3d said...

I usually agree with your "commentary," but I think you are way off base here. This strike is for TV writers that are hired at a low wage, but are promised a piece of the profits of each episode they write. If the studios are now profiting from "new media" then they should share that profit with the writers (or anyone else) that was promised residuals in their contacts. If the studios don't want to pay residuals they should pay writers a flat fee for their services as you suggested.

Staloren said...

Dray3d. Thank you for clarifying. I did not know that is the basis for this strike.

If a writer is being promised a piece of the pie in exchange for an upfront fee. Then yes, they should get a slice of the internet revenue as well.


Jason. I still can't agree with what you are saying. The company that puts a show together is entitled to the profit when they are absorbing the risk. I don't think that an employee should be entitled to a piece when they are already getting paid for their services.

If you want to share in the rewards, then start a company and accept the risk that goes along with it. There should be no obligations for someone running a company to share profits with everyone responsible for making it happen.

Again, my exceptions should be noted (from the original post).

However, if what dray3d says is true, then I agree, the writers that get paid nothing upfront or something very low and promised a portion... ...They should get a share of the internet revenues as well.

Anonymous said...

Here's my example (at least for work for hire writers): A home contractor gets paid to build a house. When the owner of the house sells it at a profit, should the contractor get paid too? The contractor makes money by building more houses.

jmay said...

The system is set up, as you say in your post, so that original writers can get a share of the ultimate success of the projects they create. These writers ARE special, because without their original ideas none of the other jobs would happen. And no one would get paid.

Of course, the studios want to minimize their upfront costs, so they have given away these residuals as a tradeoff in negotiations of the past. They force the writers to risk, upfront, to take less money than their work is worth, in exchange for this payoff later. Fair or not, that's the way it is. Contrary to your opinion, Staloren, there is NO risk for the studio with residuals. Residuals only get paid out when the studio is making money.

The problem is that that system does get abused. Re-writers come in (who have not taken on the upfront risk), angling for credit, trying to get a piece of the residuals pie. And in the animation world it's particularly abused, so I can see how you wouldn't have a lot of respect for these writers as anything more than craftsmen.

But remember, the Studios entered into this partnership with the WGA for their own selfish reasons. The Studios want writers who create high-quality original content to work for them exclusively, so they become signatories to the WGA. If the Studios don't think the WGA's terms are worth it, they walk away or present terms the WGA won't agree with. It's their strike too -- the onus isn't all on the writers.

Staloren said...


Thanks for your post. I think you misunderstood my position of "studio risk".

I did not mean to imply that they are accepting risk by paying residuals.

My point is that the studio is accepting risk by spending the insane amount of money to produce or even develop a film. Writer's residuals have nothing to do with that risk.

Those of us that work as artists, writer's or any number of positions or contractors that help put a movie together forget that the evil studios are often spending a ton of their own money (therefore accepting risk) to put behind the film.

Because of that risk, they should be entitled to the rewards. I still believe if a writer is hired and paid fairly, there is no reason for him to have residuals. On the other hand, if they come up with the story, bring it to the studio, or get paid below a fair wage for their work, they are now accepting risk themselves and residuals are okay in my book.

Just wanted to clarify what I meant by studio risk.