Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's Still On! - Writer's Strike 2007/2008 (let's get used to that)

I'm going out to L.A. for a few days and will be seeing for myself a bit of what the writer's strike is like in a big way. There are numerous pickets in NYC, but not like there are in L.A. (besides, pickets in NYC are about as common as rats, or in this case, giant inflatable rats) and while I'm seeing a lot of it on the news and in blogs, seeing it all in person will be another matter altogether. I'll try and take some pics.

At this point it's pretty obvious that this strike will be lasting a while, and what's especially intriguing about this strike, more so than the one from back in '88, is how the writers have used the internet (ironically one the reasons they're on strike) to their advantage. Of course, writers do this all the time (hellooo!) but the WGA and the striking screenwriters have been especially smart about all of it. Over the weekend a screenwriter/director friend of mine put me on a mass e-mail with links to some persuasive YouTube videos (one of which is posted below) about the situation. And as with all things YouTube, you can't watch just one thing, so I was amazed to see the amount of video content the WGA has posted and its quality, too. I know these guys are professionals, but these clips don't just come across as documents of the strike, but also as effective ads for the WGA and I don't mean that as a knock:

What's great about these spots (for lack of a better term) is how they bring the point of the strike across, but not in a way that's preachy or makes you feel any guilt. "All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share", a great writer once wrote (OK, that's a line from A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, but you know what I mean) and now is the time for the writers to get the same share that actors, producers and directors get. The WGA is running a hearts and minds campaign and doing a splendid job of it, not just in explaining the situation overall but in telling the average Joe why they should care. There's almost no way for the studios to counterbalance this.

Oh yeah, the layoffs. That will do a pretty god damn good job of counterbalancing anything.

It doesn't matter who you are, if you work in the entertainment industry, you're going to be affected by this strike sooner or later, with the possibility of sooner inching its way up day by day. Already staffers at some shows (like FAMILY GUY) have already been let go since there's no work to be done and they can't let them just sit around and do nothing at work all day. The studios are beginning to use "force majure" clauses in contracts and slowly but surely, pink slips will start getting handed out to makeup people, set decorators, you name it, and then the tide will turn. Unions or no unions, when people lose their jobs because of things like this, a bitterness sets in, one that can't be stopped. I'm told there was a lot of leftover resentment from the strike of '88 for many years, and with the economy beginning to take a nosedive, the potential for ugliness is pretty fucking high.

I've heard some real head slappers about residual payments to writers over the years, so I support them 100% and want them to get all that they deserve. The writers have made it very clear that they don't want to strike and want to get back to negotiations and get this thing resolved. And certainly everyone in the industry understands the ramifications of this strike, even if they're not already feeling the pinch. But if continues there is going to be hell to pay on all sides and man, oh man, is it going to get ugly.

Wow, I'm actually relived I work in the record industry at the moment!

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