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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Guest Blog: Word on the Strike

We are extraordinarily lucky today, Rouge Wavers, because we have some inside perspective from a respected industry professional, my friend Philippa Burgess who was kind enough to take a little time out to give us her thoughts on the impending writer's strike. Enjoy:


You really are in the business when you have some history in it. Stay tuned, and you'll be able to look back on this and say to your fellow industry colleagues you were there. It was the five-month strike of 1988 that created the spec script market. It was the strike that never was in 2001 that launched reality TV. The issues on the table are reminding us that it is indeed a brave new world. There will no doubt be a transition in the business as a result of this negotiation.
Whether you are a current or future member of the WGA these issues
are your issues and it's important that you educate yourself on their
impact on the industry as a whole. This is Hollywood history in the
making and despite some fear of the unknown; it is also a very
exciting time in this business.

As you've probably been tracking, the current WGA contract expired
last night at midnight, October 31st. To date, not a lot of progress has been reported in the three months at the bargaining table with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers). The members of the WGA have voted to call a strike should negotiations fail. It's being reported that the WGA will hold off on calling a strike for at least a week after the contract expires, but may go so far as to
extend the threat of a through the holidays. A few of key issues on
the table are 1) home video residuals, 2) New-media jurisdiction and
residuals, 3) Reality TV jurisdiction, and 4) length of the agreement.
If they do strike, there is no predicting how long it will last. The
DGA and SAG contracts come up in June 30, 2008 so part of the battle
is that any precedents that are set in this negotiation extends to the
other Guilds.

Many industry writers are writing around the clock to get their drafts
in before the possible strike when they would be barred for further
work for any struck company. Agents, managers, producers, and
executives are particularly busy trying to push as much through as
they can before a possible strike. Those in process of deals have seen
things move very quickly or get completely tabled until things are
decided about a strike. The Guild has issued a statement of rules for
members and non-members alike should a strike be ordered. For the
latest visit the WGA website.

A writer should certainly be patient with everyone they're dealing
with in the industry at this time. It's pretty consuming as whatever
happens directly affects many people's livelihood. If the threat of
a strike passes it shouldn't take to long for things to get back to
some degree of normalcy. It's important to keep in mind that many
companies overbought or accelerated their development so that they may not be as hungry for new projects right away. If the union does
strike writers can still write their own projects, socialize with
other industry professionals, and consult with representation. What
they can't (or certainly shouldn't do) is perform or solicit work or a
deal from any struck company. Agents and managers should be keen to consider new clients again once a decision is made one way or the
other. If there is a strike, we'll have more time on our hands. When
it all shakes out, we'll be as anxious as anyone else to get clients
back to work.

Philippa Burgess is an entertainment professional and partner at Creative Convergence. Don't miss her upcoming Million Dollar Screenwriting & Content Career course. This
popular 5 session weekend intensive teleclass starts again November
4th - 18th for 90 minutes each Sundays at 3PM Pacific; Saturdays at
10AM Pacific (Live Nationwide). Learn more

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Christian M. Howell said...

Say hi to Philippa for me. I can tell everyone that the course she teaches is EXCELLENT.
Each day covers a different aspect of the business from marketing to "industry-speak." It's definitely worth it and she has cross-promotion going on with several other seminars like and and even

People should especially look at ActionCut. Its a hands-on lab where you actually film scenes.

But then Screenpaylab does workshops for a low price and Hollywood by Phone has industry pros accept queries from callers (for the most part).

Also, the link to MDSCC isn't working.

That should fix it.

Yoda said...

As someone who pitched his first screenplay at the Expo over the weekend, I'm extremely grateful for the advice in the last paragraph: be patient, keep in contact, and be ready when things return to normal.

With fingers crossed,