Saturday, November 03, 2007

What the Strike Means to You

My son asked me last night what the strike means to him as a movie-goer. He's convinced that we're in for nothing but bad remakes. In the effects column, here's what says will happen when writers strike on Monday:
  1. Release of bad/unpolished/unfinished films.

  2. Stalled productions.

  3. Established writers scabbing.

  4. Unproduced/unestablished writers screwed.

I didn't say any of that to my eighteen year old when he asked me what the strike means to him. Instead, I relied on the "gee, that depends on how you look at it" answer - a skilled parent rephrase of "do you see a crystal ball in my hand?" designed to make it sound like I probably know something but would rather him figure it out for himself instead of sponging off my wisdom because how else is he going to become a man?

Don't judge me, people!

As a non-card carrying member of #4, however, I began a month or so ago converting my favorite screenplay into a novel -- ya know -- just in case and for those of you who are familiar with the poor quality of my prose writing (which is in the same category as my skill for peeing standing up), well this is not good news.

But a good screenplay can be like a detailed outline for a novel so we'll see what happens. I'll probably get fed up with my description of a cash register and go back to a partially completed screenwriting project. Or, maybe I'll bounce back and forth to keep from getting bored.

In reality, most of our newbie unproduced screenwriting careers won't be affected one way or another by the strike. We'll still be writing stuff nobody opts and few people read but we'll keep writing anyway because writing is not what we do, it's a product of who we are.


Julie O. said...

I'm still hoping someone throws a Hail Mary before Monday.

(Btw, tag, you're it. See my blog for details...)

Anonymous said...

"my skill for peeing standing up"... coincidentally I have a scene of a woman peeing standing up in a script

Robert Hogan said...

I have to disagree with number four. As someone who monitors the industry from the inside, this is a great time to be non-guild writer trying to break into the industry. Agents and production companies are going to have a bunch of people sitting around the office with nothing to do, and the only scripts they will be able to read will be from non-guild writers. Give everything a week to settle down, then start pitching your script like mad. If your concept is marketable you will get reads.

The only catch to this is that you won't be able to make any deals till after the strike ends. But for now, it doesn't hurt to get your foot in the door.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Maybe, Bob. I dunno. It's one article and they aren't an authority. They also seem to be talking about productions, not looks. Hard for me to imagine studios with nothing to do.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Hey, Bob, may email you but was reading over the strike rules and they are very clear that the WGA will bar future Guild membership for writers who engage in behavior that could harm the Guild or its members during the strike period. Looks like that could include pitching to and negotiating with struck companies. I don't know. Obviously you shouldn't sell or opt to them but even pitching and negotiating could look like picket crossing. Not sure looking like a traitor is a good idea before you're even a member of the Guild. Thoughts?

I've always worked under the idea that even the APPEARANCE of wrong doing is -- well -- wrong. But this is all new to me. So this is something I might ought to look into.

Robert Hogan said...

While the Guild is well within their right to bar membership to any writer who scabs during the strike, this only applies to taking a paid assignment with a guild production company.

It you are a non-guild writer looking for an agent or establishing a relationship with a production company it would be against the best interest of the Guild to keep you from joining once the strike is over and you sell something.

Just remember, don't take money from a guild production company while the strike is in effect and you will be fine. I've talked to Guild writers and they are well aware that once the strike is over their will be a need for new scripts in the industy. They are preparing those scripts and will be setting up meetings once the end of the strike is in sight. The only difference between them and you is that you can send your script in before the strike ends.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Seems to me that professional writers on the picket line might perceive me as an opportunistic vulture undermining the point they're trying to make. That wouldn't bode well for me later on. I think if I truly want to be a professional writer, the time to start acting like one is now.

Robert Hogan said...

I see your point, and after discussing this issue with some writer and producer friends on the left coast, I've got the same feeling. Actually several producers I spoke with said they have closed down their development departments during the strike so as not to even appear to be looking for scab writers.

Here's to the hope that this will end quickly.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Amen to that!