"It's Not a Bonus"

"You're fighting over residu-wha?" That's a question picketers have heard countless times over the past two days from curious passersby and distant cousins. This piece on the Huffington Post by Chris Kelly is as clear and simple an explanation as I've seen. Here's a key excerpt:

A residual isn't a handout or an allowance or Paris Hilton's trust fund. It's not a lottery payout, or alimony, or an annuity from a slip and fall accident at a casino.

A residual is a deferred payment against the lifetime value of a script.

It's not a perk.

It's okay if you didn't know that. It's in the best interests of a lot of fairly large corporations that you don't.


Baylink said...

A commenter on the blog of NJ Star ledger TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall put this *much* more succinctly:

Isn't it kind of hypocritical that on one hand the studios and networks say that unauthorized downloading or copying of content is "stealing," because you're taking something of value -- but on the other hand, they say the writers don't deserve residuals, because the content is valueless?

Or now they're even saying that downloads are "promotional" -- in which case they should be paying hackers to copy DVDs and redistribute content on the Net.

Any other questions? :-)

Anonymous said...

Only idiots accept "residuals" - demand to get paid up front.

Anonymous said...

I work for a bank.

I open lots of checking accounts.

Those accounts will continue to generate revenue for the bank for decades to come.

I guess I should be getting residuals on those accounts, huh?

Does that sound ridiculous? That's how your strike sounds to me. What makes you so special?

Anonymous said...

Should auto workers get paid when a used car is sold?

Anonymous said...

After 22 years of getting paid so little from DVDs, why are you guys asking for so little now? Since you're going through the trouble of striking, why not ask for 50 cents or a dollar of every DVD, and let them negotiate down a bit. What's this 8 cents busness?

You deserve much more.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous, who works at the bank, opening checking accounts:

The reason why you don't get paid residuals is because you don't work on commission. Writers do. You don't front the cost for advertisement for your bank, the bank does that. You fill out paperwork and get paid an employee's wage for the effort you put in.

Writers work on commission, they get paid when their work sells, and may not get paid for several years. If you were willing to work on commission setting up checking or money market accounts, you may deserve residuals. As it is, you take zero risk (because of your guaranteed paycheck every week), and thus get zero share of the rewards. As it is for writers, they take all the risk of possibly not selling a script for years, have zero guarantee of EVER selling a script and get very little or zero rewards in terms of residuals.

Greater risk = greater reward. The studios are currently forcing them to accept most of the risk while sucking up all the rewards.

David Grenier said...

1. Actually, lots of sales folks get residuals even if they no longer work for the company. For example, I'm a wedding photographer. The salesperson at our album supplier who initially 'landed our account' still gets a small commission every time we make a purchase. I was told a lot of cell phone companies work like this as well.

2. The used car analogy doesn't hold up. The WGA is not asking for *me* to give them money if I sell my copy of Battlestar Galactica - Season 1 on eBay after I watch it. What they are saying is that if the Studios are making money off their work, they want a piece of it.

Anonymous said...

This is a comment directed at WGA members. I think what you need to make clear to the public (and to generate more sympathy) is that unlike a pharmaceutical company that takes all the upfront risk for a new product, with the employees simply "working" there, writers in today's market share the risks of success or failure in their contract terms with the express notion that in sharing risk, they deserve extra returns when a show is successful. Also, the stakes in this strike are high since we will all be using computers and handheld devices as the next generation of content emerges.

Good luck!

From a new Miamian