by Larry Brody
The latest development, per the Writers Guild of America West Board of Directors last Friday, April 26th:
Dear Members,Dear Members,
We want to give you an update as to where things stand, and we will be doing this on a regular basis. Although we would all like a quick resolution, we are confronting an entrenched power system that is difficult to change overnight. While we have made it clear we are willing to negotiate with any agency or group of agencies that embrace an agenda that aligns writers’ interests with their agencies, this may not happen until the pressure increases. In the meantime:
- Writers are exercising essential pressure by withholding representation of our valuable talents from conflicted agencies.
- The lawsuit against the agencies goes forward.
- We have notified private equity firms and institutional investors, including public sector pension funds, about the Big Three oligopoly agencies’ legal jeopardy and their loss of one of their key assets: writers.
- The Guild is facilitating communication and support both for writers seeking employment and employers seeking writers. Today an important expansion of the Staffing Submission System was announced, and the inaugural WGA Weekly Feature Memo was sent to producers. And members continue to demonstrate their solidarity by helping each other find work during this period of disruption.Although we’ll do our best to anticipate what will happen next, every campaign has its challenges. Keep in mind it has only been two weeks since we implemented the Code of Conduct, and a few days since we delivered the first batch of e-letters.
The business continues and demand for our work is high. The lack of lit agents in the ecosystem does not diminish that demand, it only reroutes the flow of information and opportunity. So please continue to share information and support your fellow writers.
Finally, we’d like to invite you to attend one of our May Wednesday Get-Togethers where some of the board and negotiating committee will be available to informally answer any questions you might have. Hors d’oeuvres will be served. RSVP here.
All of us have made a hard choice and taken the first step in righting a broken system. But none of that will matter if we are not now prepared to fight whatever anxieties we may have and, instead, to allow our strategy to take effect. The agencies’ greatest weapon will be to stoke our fears and test our strength. We’ll need to continue to lean on each other, to remember the reason we started this fight in the first place and the power we have — have always had — as writers. If we do those things, we will succeed.
WGA-Agency Agreement Negotiating Committee and WGAW Board and WGAE Council
This message came with an important addendum, which I believe all TV and film writers, even those who aren’t yet in the Guild, should read:
Also on April 26th, members received this update:
In its first month in operation, the Staffing Submission System has delivered thousands of writers’ samples directly to showrunners who are looking to hire. Writers are getting read. Show meetings are being set. Staffing season is unfolding without chaos – and without agents. While no online portal can take the place of a good representative, this system has successfully bridged an important gap.
We are now ready to expand access for the week before Upfronts.
On May 6th, all Current members will be able to make three more submissions. Please note that the system will not allow members to “bank” submissions. Whether you have used your first three submissions or not, your counter will reset to three total.
The system will be opened to all Associate and Post-Current members, who will also be able to make up to three submissions. The WGA’s Staffing Submission System is available to Guild members via myWGA portal on the Guild’s website.
We will be monitoring the system closely to ensure that it continues to provide writers looking for work and showrunners looking for writers with a valuable way to connect as we work toward a resolution with the agencies….
The Guild has uploaded an article called “An agent’s fiduciary duties to clients,” which helps explain our legal position. Members (and possibly others, I’m not sure) can read that article HERE