The writer’s strike continues to rage, and there is much speculation among the Extra Extra team as to whether this will help or hurt our efforts to pitch the series. We’re not a WGA-affiliate production, so theoretically we should be able to produce the show without annoying anyone, but I know that people are not always rational when it comes to such things.
As a writer myself, I’m sympathetic to the scribes in California.
I do wonder why screenwriters expect to get paid over and over for a job they do once. If you build a house, your contractor gets paid ONE TIME for the initial construction. They do not get additional royalties each time the house is sold. What’s the difference? Grips, costume designers, soundmen, and editors all work very hard on projects too, but I guarantee these folks aren’t getting royalties. Why writers, and not these others?
If the argument is that only “above the line” people (writers, directors, producers and actors) deserve royalties, then consider this: in my day job, I’m a technical writer for a large company that designs and produces products that help people with disabilities. (Wheelchairs, scooters, canes, ramps, stuff like that.) I design and write documentation, including schematics and manuals, that are used to create these products, just as a screenwriter produces a script that serves as the foundation for a film. But I do not get, nor do I expect, royalties on the products we sell. I draw a weekly salary, just as these staff writers do. Again, what’s the difference?
I just don’t understand the whole royalties argument. If you’re paid X amount of dollars to write or direct something, shouldn’t you be satisfied with that? Do you need to continue getting paid for that same piece of writing for the next forty years? Sure, I’d love to get paid multiple times for something I wrote decades ago, but I don’t expect or demand it. And by engaging in a strike like this, they’re hurting non-striking personnel like the production assistants, costume designers, editors, etc., who will now not be able to work because production jobs have temporarily dried up.
Entertainment Weekly, however, has a terrific article detailing their pro-writer point of view, which gave me a lot to think about: