Sunday, November 04, 2007

Monday, 12:01 AM: Closed For Business

As I type this, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America sit opposite negotiators for the American Motion Picture and Television Producers. Their meeting will hopefully avert a crippling industry-wide strike. We'll see how that plays out.

I hate strikes. I do. I loathe them. In my experience, strikes usually incur an unreasonable degree of collateral damage to the faultless public. No matter how you slice that, strikes typically fuel a venomous word of mouth from which few participants ever totally recover. On top of that, strikes have always felt to me like a legal equivalent to bullying... and blackmail. And I'm not even a dues-paying WGA member, so this writer's strike doesn't really affect me. Or does it?

I do get offered film writing gigs of all sorts.

Thus, after having studied what writers are fighting to achieve with this strike, I can't, with a clear conscience, accept any writing contracts from producers for the entire duration of a WGA strike.

Writers are not asking for the moon, and it seems like they've taken every step to appeal to the AMPTP's common sense. However, when logic fails...

Pencils down means pencils down.

Respectfully, then, this is for all producers out there: for the duration of a WGA strike, I cannot accept any writing work for motion pictures, including: script & story consultation, feature script writing & rewriting, outlines, treatments, log lines, dialog polishes, character bios. Nothing. My writing factory will be closed for business until further notice, which is a polite way of saying, "Please don't ask me to do any writing work." It will just result in an awkward conversation as I offer a ham-fisted explanation why a non-WGA member is essentially joining a WGA picket line.

Perhaps my response would be this simple: one day I will be a WGA member and on that Day of Days, I couldn't proudly stand beside my WGA colleagues with the knowledge that, in their greatest hour of need, I was a scab undermining everything they risked their livelihoods to secure. Most important of all, one day, all the benefits the WGA are fighting for now, will benefit me, so accepting work during a writers' strike would be like shooting myself in the face.

If this morning's negotiations fail, the WGA's strike is scheduled to begin Monday, November 5, 2007 at 12:01 AM.


Anonymous said...

I don't get why the ultrawealthy media companies don't just hire scabs.

Ross Pruden said...

Because, contrary to what most people might think, writing is a difficult and inaccessible art... picking up a pen is not the same as picking up a shovel.

By the time that the "ultrawealthy media companies" trained and sculpted writers to give them what they needed, the WGA strike would already be over.