The Shape of Things to Come: WGA, AMPTP, and the DGA

The trades would have us believe that the AMPTP will start negotiations with the DGA as soon as next week, if the AMPTP satisfies "the DGA's condition that it can establish 'an apropriate basis for negotiations'."

Why sit down with the DGA and not the WGA? Only the AMPTP knows the answer to that question, but for months, Nicholas Counter has said very publicly that he preferred to negotiate with the DGA. The AMPTP press releases blamed that on the writers, but the PR spin notwithstanding, the truth was pretty obvious. The AMPTP stonewalled our leadership because they wanted to wait for the DGA.

If the DGA does start negotations with the congloms next week, does that mean the WGA negotiations committee will become irrelevant, standing on the sidelines, reduced to being helpless observers? Certainly that's what the AMPTP would like us to think. But we know that isn't the truth. We know that our leadership is working behind the scenes, putting pressure on the congloms politically and economically. We know that our picketing and fan support has increased the public's awareness of our issues. We know too that an outreach effort to the individual companies was started when the AMPTP walked away from the table. The deal with World Wide Pants was the tangible result of that effort.

There will be even more opportunities to break through and settle the strike. The WGA leadership will continue to talk with companies like World Wide Pants that see the advantage to concluding an agreement with us now, rather than waiting for the inevitable conclusion of the strike.

So what about our sister guild, the DGA? If they begin negotiations with the AMPTP, let's hope their issues are the same as ours. Of course there will be differences as each guild's leadership pursues what's best for their members. But let's hope that they will succeed in pushing open the door to the internet and stopping, once and for all, the ridiculous proposals from the congloms that have come our way.

From the beginning of the strike, the WGA leadership knew that our contract negotiation was the first of many battles with the AMPTP for the future of all of Hollywood's unions. If the DGA begins their talks with the congloms, then we'll have another ally in that struggle.

Since the AMPTP has been so eager to sit down with the DGA, let's hope they conclude their discussions quickly so they'll come back to us.

The strike isn't over until we get a fair and equitable contract.


Geo Rule said...

The two things of significance that this misses are:

1). WGA and DGA leadership met and DGA gave WGA a "preview of coming attractions" on what they were going to say to AMPTP.

2). Potentially what is even more important is what happened next. What happened next is "what the dog did in the night". The dog, WGA's leadership, did not begin a whispering campaign to distance themselves from what DGA would propose.

Surely they could have if they found it beyond the pale.

Which is not to say that it's perfect, or that it's even entirely acceptable to WGA in all particulars. But I think it's a near certainty that it's not too bad or WGA leadership would have taken greater efforts to distance themselves, even if discretely using "eyeblink semaphor" or somesuch.

Jake Hollywood said...

Oh c'mon. It's okay to admit that the DGA always operates in their own self interest. They toss writers under the bus all the time. I mean, after all, they're the "authors" of every film ever made, right? Writers are essentially just glorified typist as far as the DGA is concerned--they're not unlike the AMPTP in this view of writers as, "schmucks with Underwoods". If the film is great or merely good, it's the director's "vision" that made it so; if the film is bad, it's always the writer's fault--"...you can't always fix a bad script."

This is the WGA's fight. And it's a battle we writers must win, if for no other reason than to regain what little respect the industry tosses our way.

Hopefully there'll be more deals like the one with World Wide Pants, a deal with a film studio would be good or maybe a deal with one of the cable channels. Maybe some writers will band together to form their own production studios--producing scripts--and sign on to be WGA signatories, then enter into (and thus forcing larger studios to agree by default to the MBA) partnerships with major studios and TV channel outlets to produce films from those scripts (and also allowing ownership to remain with the script producing studio) into profitable ventures and successful films.

Fair and equitable deal with the AMPTP? Have they ever been fair or equitable toward writers? No. Only unless forced, that is.

And it long past time to stop playing nice.

nick said...

For the record, I hope the WGA gets pay for it's work displayed on new media. That being said,whom among us likes to be told how we are going to spend their money. Sure the intellectual property was created by the "writer". Without the "producer" such property would just be letters on a laptop that smelled a lot like burned Starbucks coffee. So when you flex your collective muscle ( by striking)as mighty writer. You have to expect the big bad bully to flex back('cept their muscles are steroid infused). So when I see that the counter, not Nick, on this site says so many days since the BBB walked away from the table. Remember MW walked away first. The WGA was not locked out. But walked out on 6,7,and 8 figure jobs. Money that can never be re-made. If indeed "studios" wouldn't even feel the loss of revenue from paying the writers all they asked for. then what makes any rational person believe that the studios are not loving not spending money on low rated shows during a down year.

Lest us not forget that Pilot season is gone. Tremendous savings for the "studios". When the SAG contract expires it will threaten Fall 08. By that time the "studios" will have saved billions from the bottom line. I am starting to believe somebody in the WGA is a double agent.

Post Guy said...


I am a post production artist. For the life of me, I don't understand why any writer would have this sorrowful view of their place in the industry. I don't how you can strike for respect. Look no further than Dreamworks and the fragile relationship with their parent company, not much respect even on that level.

We are the creatives, not the AMPTP companies. They will never be able to look at their credit list and think, "Damn, I did ok".


I can speak for every IA professional I know, "you have respect here". The television I've worked on, the features I've worked on, thinking, "man, I wish I could have written that, I wish it had my name after.............Written by".

I've done some writing, and realize how truly difficult it is. I can only dream of being good enough to be a WGA writer. I do wish I had paid better attention during creative writing class back in school.

I love what I do, in fact living my dream that I had as a 13 year old (I still can't believe they actually pay me a few bucks to come in and have fun after 29 years) But if I were one day to come up with an idea, a story, a screen play good enough to be produced, with my name after "written by"? My life would truly be complete.

Nothing happens without our writers, nothing. Yes, someone may have an idea, or story, or even a book, but it is our writers that bring that to life, those dialogue lines that are remembered forever, those one liners that make us laugh for generations.

Don't look for respect from "them", look for it from your directors, (the ones I know have deep respect for their writers) from your actors, from your crews, from your fellow writers, bringing us amazing and moving story telling.

Those words you write will long outlive those execs, and that is your legacy, that is your respect. While any of the current AMPTP execs will be long forgotten 50 years from now, your words live on forever. It is your creative inspiration left for future generations.

It is your immortality.

Macgyver said...

The smartest thing the DGA could do at this point is sit down at the table, wait for the AMPTP to get comfortable, then tell them to ram it until they've made a deal with the writers.

As for Jake's comments above me, while it's true that directors take a huge amount of the credit it IS impossible to fix a crappy script. But it's entirely possible to ruin a good one. But as with anything in this business, you need both things to mesh.

Local44United said...

Im so amazed that the moderators of this site have chosen to censor people with views that differ from their own.

Shame on you.

John Aboud said...

to Local44United:

We're not censoring, we're just not posting stuff that contains, as the comment rules above state, "gratuitous jack-assery and rudeness."

We publish comments critical of both sides so long as the comments are rational and thought out. Insults are not welcome, thoughtful responses the situation we all face are.

Scott Ellington said...

It's just the opinion of an interested industry-outsider, me, that the shape of things to come depends to a very great degree on the re-education of the general public.
Sensitized, last November, to issues identified by the strike I've stopped frequenting iTunes, placed my NetFlix account on indefinite hold, ceased and desisted from buying DVDs, donate $100 per month to the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and quit television/cinema until...a satisfactory resolution is achieved in WGA/AMPTP negotiations. If I've misunderstood the significant variables involved, I'd really like to know.

DHD and YouTube have been central to my re-education, so I wonder that the WGA hasn't more actively pursued a course of getting the word out to folks like me that writers are striking at the financial core of a Goliath that desperately needs bringing down.

I'm an "ordinary American" who's mad as hell and will not take this anymore. I wish the WGA would enlist the aid of a better informed, aroused American public to stop paying "producers" to oppress the creators of intellectual property. I wish that a lot.