John August: Big Monday Picket Is Important

John August maintains one of the essential blogs on screenwriting and Hollywood. In a post from a few hours ago, he frames the current situation with typical wisdom:
For any writer — WGA or otherwise — tomorrow would seem an especially important day to be on the picket lines. If the strike is ending, it’s your last chance to be part of the picket line. If it’s not ending, then a big showing on Monday will be important for the media who show up to cover the presumed resolution.
We couldn't agree more. Let's a get out there in force all this week.

And in the same post, August reveals that, spurred on by the strike, he's making the leap to original online content.
The decision to do the project — I’ll tell you more when it’s done — really crystallized after Indie Day at Paramount. It was there I felt a change of memes. The message from writers to the studios had been, “Come back, baby. We can work this out.” But after the second time negotiations fell apart, the message became, “Maybe we should see other people.”

I decided to start seeing other people.

The project is financed outside the studio system, with some of that much-fabled internet money. It has actors you recognize, and it probably could be a TV show — but it won’t.
And John August is far from alone. There's a creative reinvention of the business going on that United Hollywood will cover once the WGA strike is over.

But it's not over yet. Stay tuned...


BTL Guy said...

Is John using Union crew and talent for his internet show?

If so, great!

From his site:

Yes, it’s okay to be shooting during the strike. The WGA has been actively encouraging members to shoot work for the web as an alternative to the AMPTP-controlled networks.


it’s the right time to be experimenting: with tone, with format, with economic model.

Is this shoot part of StrikeTV? If so, has there been any resolution about using union crews and talent?

Does the WGA "encouragement" he mentions include IATSE, SAG, DGA?

How does Union Yes fit into the new "economic model?"

Before anyone beats up on me for "being divisive" (see comments elsewhere), I think these are fair and legitimate questions.

I hope that John is using Union crews, paying scale, and everyone is making money.

Union indies can be the most exciting shows out there.

The best way to prove WGA proposals are reasonable is to produce profitable content using them.

People think I'm anti-Writer, but it's simply not true. I'm anti-Strike, but also anti-Studio. Cut the studios out of the picture, and you'd be looking at one extremely happy BTL Guy.

I ask the questions above because, so far, it seems that everyone's plans to rush out and create new content for the internet seems to be entirely non-union (or, strangely, asking for waivers).

And if the shoot is non-union, then the production is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I would love for this and other shoots to be part of the solution.

Luzid said...

If anyone's out near Venice/Marina del Rey and going to the 11 - 2 shift at Fox, I could use a ride (car's being worked on). I can offer gas and lunch!

Hit me back at < luzid.dreamz at g mail dot com >

John Aboud said...

Hey there, BTL Guy.

To my knowledge, John's thing is not in Strike TV. Strike TV is coordinating closely with all the unions to cover their shoots with indie production as the model. (I hope John will do the same.)

I really hope that in the aftermath of this strike, the unions will get proactive about the Internet and take a hard look at their contracts. How can we facilitate jurisdiction? Unions are a product of (and legally constrained by) a straightforward employer-employee dynamic. As the Internet complicates that dynamic, will we have the ingenuity and foresight to evolve?

What really excites me is the potential for way MORE production fueled by Internet-first programs. I HATE runaway production. Not to dis Canada or anything, but let's keep it local, eh?

Gary Watts said...

BTL Guy said...

Is John using Union crew and talent for his internet show?

HA...BTL Guy,

I have a question for you, what should we do about the Teamsters Local 399 crossing the line?

I personally don't think it sets a good example for the rest of the Teamsters locals,I think it makes 399 look weak.But I have noticed that the Waste Management and UPS drivers refuse to cross.

A question for all,

What do you get when you Yahoo or Google:

"Hollywood Heavy"+Tom Short ?

Good Information

~Gary Watts~

BTL Guy said...

Hey John,

I completely agree. The unions need to take a good look at Internet Production and figure out a model that works, without undermining bigger-budget conventional production.

I don't think my local even has a low budget provision (at least, not that I could find on the rate sheet), other than turning a blind eye to working on one.

Clearly, this isn't in anyone's best interest.

At the same time, though, I think everyone needs to be careful about jumping headfirst into this type of production, especially during a strike, as it only bolsters the AMPTP claim that they can't compete in the internet space if they have to pay high residuals while startups don't. (A half-truth at best which conveniently forgets the economies of scale on both production and marketing budgets).

Plus, the guilds and unions lose the moral upper hand in the argument if members don't create content under their own contracts once they put on their producer hats.

This isn't just a WGA problem, though. As I said above, all the guilds and IA locals need to address it.

Like you, I'm excited by the truly independent production that the Internet affords. I look forward to scripted Internet Productions that are successful in their own right, as well as serve as feeders for more traditional distribution.

Bill said...

"Gary Watts said...
I have a question for you, what should we do about the Teamsters Local 399 crossing the line?"

Hey Gary there's nothing you can do about that. 399 leaders made it clear that the choice to cross was up to the individual driver without fear of retribution by the local. However those drivrs at Warner who refused to cross were blacklised from the infamous Warner roster.

We are not on strike, the WGA is. By definition, a scab a replacement worker for a union on strike. Not all Teamsters support this strike - as is their choice.

BTL 399