That strike again

I’m interested in the Writer’s Guild of America strike, not least because a high proportion of the filmed entertainment I enjoy comes out of the U.S.

On a personal level it’s likely that a good chunk of my entertainment is going to dry up soon as a result of the strike, particularly TV which has a much shorter lead time than film, and where the stockpile of existing scripts is diminishing on a weekly basis. I could therefore take the view that this is more than a little bit annoying. As a consumer, I’d be forgiven for feeling irritated that these whiny writers who do already get paid for writing in the first place also want to get paid for each copy of their work that gets sold.

On the other hand, since I do enjoy these things, and since (unlike the U.S. entertainment industry) I think that the person who, y’know, wrote a creative work is *at least*1 as fundamental to the finished product as the people who directed, produced or starred in it, I do see the writers’ point. The way that writers are rewarded in other fields, the world over, is not just a one off payment for e.g. the sale of a book, but also a percentage of the sales. TV and movie companies profit from their product not just once but every time it is sold. All the writers want is a tiny percentage of that profit. And I do mean tiny–next to nothing in relation to the overall profit made by the company or the money that goes to other people involved in the production.

There’s a very sensible article on the rationale behind the situation here. It’s hard to argue with anything in it.


1 And to be honest, probably more fundamental. No writer, no script. No script, nothing to direct or act or produce.

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