1/14/2008

Patric Verrone Email to Members: MRC

WGA West President Patric Verrone just sent this email to members regarding the MRC deal that has just been closed.

To My Fellow Members,

Today we are writing to tell you about another independent agreement we signed. It is with Media Rights Capital. Though not a household name, MRC is an independent film, television, and digital studio with backing from significant institutional investors, including Goldman Sachs and AT&T. Most importantly, they have over a dozen original made-for-the-Internet properties with many more to come. This is a significant signing in that it hails the paradigm shift to original content for new media, produced and distributed under a WGA contract without the involvement of a major studio or network.

This deal began as an effort to get Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane and his writers a WGA contract on fifty webisodes which are being produced for Google. It quickly developed into a negotiation with MRC that would cover all of its Internet content (including projects with Larry David, Gordon Ramsay, and Second City), as well as a full slate of independently financed feature films and television series.

Nearly three dozen active projects are covered under this agreement. The general terms are the same as the earlier independent agreements we've signed (available here: http://www.wga.org/contract_07/wwp_exec.pdf). But, unlike the other agreements, because MRC is actively producing original Internet content, this deal is a real world template for covering such content under a WGA contract and proof that the terms and conditions of this contract are fair and reasonable.

Original Internet content will now be written by WGA members with full MBA coverage, something the conglomerates told us repeatedly they couldn't afford to do.

We expect this deal to be only the first example of direct-to-new media content generated by our members through independent financing without the involvement of a media conglomerate. This is a notable advance in our strategy of using independent agreements to put competitive pressure on the conglomerates so that they return to the bargaining table (which they abandoned over a month ago) and make a fair deal that puts us all back to work. Other similar deals are in the works and we hope to report on them soon.

Best,

Patric M. Verrone
President, WGAW

6 comments:

4merBTLer said...

BRILLIANT!!!

A New Media deal was JUST what you needed to drive home the fairness of your proposal, and the irresponsibility of Nick Counter and the "Big 8"'s refusal to return to the table.

Congratulations, WGA!

Perhaps sometime in the next few years, we will see the "Big 8" relegated to distributorship and rental space (the lots), and producers and creatives can get back to the partnerships that give us quality product.

Happy Day!

B said...

I am sincerely glad that there will be more writers working and especially happy that this deal is actually with a company that has internet projects.

However, and I have asked this question before, isn't it possible that these side deals are just creating "fronts" where writers work on projects that later end up in the distribution channels of the majors? Indeed, couldn't the majors just send projects they want developed down the street to an interim agreement signee?

The previous answer was that is just fine if the majors want to become mere distributors of product but my concern is that there could be some kind of verbal agreement that the signees buy certain properties to be developed and later sell them to the majors.

Any light would be appreciated.

Thanks.

Geo Rule said...

b, I'm starting to wonder about you. Did you even read the item? MRC has no need of side deals with conglom distributors, as they do the distribution themselves, directly on the internet. These are the kinds of folks that are the big traditional distributors worst nightmare.

B said...

Geo - I do understand that as I said in the first par of my post. MRC also has conventional movies some of which are to be released by WB.

My only question is this and since it seems to rankle this will be the last time I ask: why doesn't any major company just walk down the street and say, "Hey buy this script for us and work on it and after the deal is done we'll buy it from you."

I do understand the idea of chipping away and I do understand that it's okay to just turn the majors into distributors, I just hope that is the way it is actually going.

I won't mention it again - promise.

Have a good evening.

Rojo said...

@ b:

Well, I'm not a writer--actually I am a writer, but more in the academic publishing field and certainly not a WGA member (or any kind of union sadly)--but as I read it, the writers on those projects get the crucial terms that are being demanded. Thus, even if some other company buys up the project, they have to abide by the contract terms, so they'd just be undermining their efforts to maintain a strong assholish front on their other stalled or canceled projects. Sounds like good strategy on the part of the WGA to me.

B said...

Rojo -

thank you very much