An answer – not necessarily the answer because there is no one way to go about this – to the second most asked screenwriting question of all time. (In case you haven’t figured it out, the first is, “How do I get an agent?”)
Yes, it’s true. The writers (us) and our agents – specifically the TV series packaging agencies (them) are drawing a couple of lines in the sand. And – and this is an even bigger “yes” – at the moment those lines are way far apart.
by David Robb
The Association of Talent Agents has reached out to the WGA with an offer to sit down for informal talks in advance of negotiations for a new franchise agreement that governs how agencies represent writers. It’s the first conciliatory move by either side since April, when the WGA East and West gave the ATA a 12-month notice to terminate their existing agreement, known as the Artists’ Manager Basic Agreement.
In a letter to the heads of both unions, ATA executive director Karen Stuart said: “The ATA and its member agencies have been your partner in championing writers and their careers for more than 60 years. We are proud of the relationship we have enjoyed with the WGA and proud of our agencies’ record of success in representing their clients — your members. Every day, our agencies are on the front lines fighting for writers’ needs: opportunity, creative freedom and, of course, fair compensation.”
In its proposals for a new agreement, the WGA seeks to completely reshape the talent agency business, putting an end to packaging – which the guilds see as rife with conflicts of interest – ending commissions on scale and stopping the agencies’ nascent ventures into film and television production.
“Media consolidation and other seismic changes in the development, production and distribution ecosystem have significantly altered the landscape writers – both new and established – face every day,” Stuart said in her letter. “As the writer’s role is central and indispensable, we know that it is of utmost importance to the WGA that writers continue to be able to create freely, access the most advantageous opportunities and maximize their compensation; the agencies that represent writers, day in and day out, fully share those beliefs….