Video: Who's on the Line

This introduction was written by director Peter Hyoguchi. - JA

A portrait of a Writer's Guild picket line.
Each year, Hollywood produces a spate of network TV shows and a couple dozen feature films. With over 12,000 Writers Guild members, clearly not everyone is employed in a given year. While the mainstream media barrages us with images of red carpet and caviar success stories, the reality is that most professionals working in the entertainment industry are middle-class at best.

"Who's On The Line" features interviews with screenwriters Michael Tabb, Wendy Mericle, Zack Stratis, Monica Henderson, Matthew Goodman and Damon Lindelof.

Directed by Peter Hyoguchi
Edited by Patrick Francis
Music composed by Christopher James Thomas


Anonymous said...

What a piece of manipulative crap. There are people out there who can't work for whatever reason and these people are crying about how they can't make a living. Well, if you need to support a family, go get a real job. It sounds like residuals wouldn't even help these people anyway - they aren't creating anything that's making any money anyway. A Judge Reinhold movie, yeah, good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

This is related - I saw it on a haiku site. Someone posted a haiku and design in support of this strike.


Sorry I couldn't find an email address to send this to. I thought it might look good on your site. No, I didn't create it I just ran across it. Go Union.

Anonymous said...

Really deep stuff there, it makes the cause all more worthwhile, anyone who can sit there and say that it is "Manipulative" is truly as mad as a hatter. Writers aren't paid that much, supporting a family takes ALOT of hardwork and money. Coming up to christmas aswell will be even more of a struggle. I support the cause alot more than I already did after seeing this. You guys rock.

errrm said...

That was a really great answer to all the people saying "Oh, poor millionaires!"

My only suggestion for further ones would be to harp on the idea that writing is a CAREER and not a job.

One of the writers touched on this, saying that he knew other unemployed people out there would just say "Go find another job."

What no one mentioned was that writing should produce a livable wage. It should be a career and writers should be able to support a family on it. It's a specific talent that takes educational and a specific skill set. It's not just sitting down and writing a short story. There are time restraints, acts, character development, etc.

As a consumer I can't depend on the studios pay adequately for quality work, ensuring that quality work will continue to come in. By saying "oh, just find another job if you can't hack it," people are fostering the environment where the lowest bidder gets the work.

This isn't like a factory production line, it's an art. In most other sectors, finding someone to do the job for less money might seem like a smart business decision. You would say the same about an artist. Sure, Georgia O'Keefe will paint something beautiful, but George over here says he'll do you a painting for $5.

No, it doesn't work that way.

rubberpoultry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rubberpoultry said...

Wow! I think it was powerful. You put a face on this whole thing by telling the stories those whose lives are really being affected by this whole mess.

The writers deserve every red cent they're fighting for. I for one am willing to never watch another show online, pay for a youtube download, or support the networks if need be -until this is resolved.

Stand strong!


Tracy said...

That was a really good piece. Put a real face on "who's on the line." I think the point about these are the faces behind the most famous lines we all quote is very effective.

Just a thought :

You should send this to Current TV...

Here's a link:

It is sort of YouTube, but actually on TV or like a really smart viewer run Municipal Channel.
I just flipped over to get the web address and caught the end of a UnitedHollywood video, so maybe you guys know about it.

Good Luck.

Ducky said...

Simply amazing Video! Keep up the fight gang and good luck with the continuing talks.

Anonymous said...

Nobody cares. Let the strike last forever. Entertainment is not a necessity like food, water, etc.
I don't watch TV or go to the movies. I just watch news and sports. So your pitiful PR campaigns are meaningless. Forget what you are hearing from Nikki "Rat" Finke - these talks are not going to go anywhere and will eventually break down.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion to United Hollywood .com. Leave the messaging to the creative folks at the Office and the Simpsons. As a labor person watching this video, I have more compassion for the millionaires who properly convey the message than I have for the writers in this video. The melodramatic music doesnt help either.


Anonymous said...

So, I see the haters are out this morning...oh well. They are outnumbered.

I can attest to ageism in Hollywood; friends who were already in their 30s had a hard time even getting a meeting. This is very hard to make a living at. As for 'change jobs', people do what they do. They may as well say that to coal miners, baseball players, etc.

People should not have to abandon their skills, training and career in lieu of fair pay or conditions.

Roger Green said...

Well, if by "manipulative" anon 4:02 AM means "moving", I'd agree. Most entertainment is manipulative: music that makes me want to dance or listen to again, movies that make me want to watch again so I can hear that dialogue once more.

Anonymous said...

I thought this video was great and helped to emphasize the people who aren't millionaires and are losing their jobs over this.

And I bet all these people who are telling the writers to go get 'real jobs' are watching their weight in TV when they get home.

ProfJ said...

This truly brings home the reality of the strike and the reasons for it. Writing is like any other art form: There are people at all levels of it, both artistically and financially. To portray the WGA as only the most successful is shortsighted, ignorant, and reprehensible.

I an not a WGA member, but I support them whole-heartedly.

Joe Gillis said...

Anonymous 6:51 doesn't watch TV or go to the movies, but does take the time to read and comment on unitedhollywood.com.
Anyone else smell a sock puppet?

errrm said...

That depends... what exactly do sock puppets smell like? I mean, do you use dirty socks to make these puppets... or are they fresh from the store?

Becca said...

That was one of the most moving things I have seen since this strike began. My heart and support just doubled in size for you.

red jane said...

As a Canadian actor up here in Vancouver, I can tell you that our industry is overwhelmingly affected by the strike as so much of our productions are US shows; we fought through similar negotiations earlier this year and are absolutely, 150% onside with the WGA. I love this piece as it really demonstrates the middle-men, the worker bees in the industry- who are most of us, to be sure- who struggle daily to make their art and craftsmanship pay a fair, decent and living wage. It always amazes me how many people do voice their derision towards writers and others in the industry especially when they have absolutely no intimate understanding of the gong show it really is. Stand strong, keep fighting the good fight because you're paving the way for the rest of us over the next few years.

Anonymous said...

I loved the video!! Got it saved on youtube to my Writer's Strike playlist!! I've also passed it around to some of my facebook friends!!

Way to go!!


Catherine B said...

Beautiful! And the music really enhanced the story.

I just have to comment on the hatred and bitterness of the previous emailer (and others I've read.) Either s/he is being paid by the corporations to go around writing vitreolic garbage like this, or there's something seriously wrong with this person's moral composition. Actually, I guess both could be true, but I'm going to hope this person is in such dire financial straits that s/he had to take the job of being hateful and heartless to pay the bills.

Rach said...

It's funny. The residuals won't help millionares much either. The strike is something for those poor people so in the future if they do get a job and make it big they won't be screwed.

Writers aren't in it for the money. They are in it because they love it. That guy had talent and he was struggling but he had the dream that he could make it big - and since his scripts were getting bought and he was finding odd jobs it wasn't like he was kidding himself. There's no need to put him down like that.

The point that everyons is trying to make is that as a writer your position is very unsecure. You can make money one day and lose it for 5 years. Residuals keep food on the table unless you have enough savings to get by during the hard times that come. WE want the writers to barrel through those tough times. We don't want them to get another job.

It's in the best interest for them to keep writing. We want to support entertainment - especially good, well written movies and tv shows.

And it shows how the guild has helped - just like unions should.

Mike Brown said...

I work for Fox Sports Net as a camera operator for the NBA, NFL, MLB, and the NHL. I get paid $350 every day that I work (set by the IATSE Union). How much do I work? 2 days a week... on average. That's below the poverty level for a family in L.A.


alright mr. anonymous, when you're watching the superbowl in a couple of months, remember what you just said. Because it's people like me... and it's people like these writers, who put hard work into making the freakin' TV programs that you take for granted when you sit down and watch... after your hard day at your "real" telemarketing job.

Prime Time Television, along with Jay Leno and David Letterman... ALL IN RERUNS. Why? Because the people who evidently need "real" jobs stopped working.

Tell you what... don't watch TV... don't watch movies... don't go to concerts... don't listen to the radio...

... and THEN you can talk about not "creating anything that's making any money." Until then, you're just proving how foolish you are in your arrogance.