Latest on WGAW Connect

What has our Writers Guild done for us lately?

Glad you asked because the Guild has a wonderful answer in Writers Connect, a short newsletter members get every week. (See? Another good reason to bust your butt to qualify and join.)


WGAW Members Work to #RaiseThePercentage

How Black Lives Matter sparked a week of virtual coffees between staffed writers and the underrepresented.

In early June, Ashley Soto Paniagua (Vida) started texting writers she knew, asking if they wanted to participate in a campaign called #RaiseThePercentage. The hashtag was the brainchild of Soto Paniagua’s co-organizer, actor and producer Jessie B. Evans (who founded Hollywood Here, which seeks to make the larger creative community more inclusive). At the time, Black Lives Matter protests had exploded nationwide after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and social media was a hotbed of rage and sorrow. Read more >>

Ask a Mentor: One Step Forward…

Jeff Stockwell explains what’s wrong with one-step deals and suggests what writers can do about them.

For a number of reasons, screenwriters consider one-step deals to be problematic. But what should you do if you’re offered one? Jeff Stockwell (A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia) breaks down why one-steps aren’t good for writers or executives and offers some advice on how to deal with them.

Send your questions about the craft, job hunting, your career, or Guild service to Connect (under 100 words, please) with the subject “Mentor,” and we’ll send them to an established screen or TV writer to answer. Questions might be edited for space or clarity and will be published Aanonymously. Read more >>

Interest in New Committee of Middle Eastern Writers Emerges

Inclusion and Equity Department hosts upcoming meeting to gauge member interest.

The WGAW’s Inclusion and Equity Department has been approached by self-identifying Middle Eastern members regarding the formation of a Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Writers Committee. With more and more self-identified Middle Eastern writers joining the union, it is time to explore forming a committee dedicated to the careers and creative interests of this community. Read more >>

WGAW CAP Committees

The WGAW’s wide range of CAP (Committee Advisory Panel) committees offers members unique “hands-on” opportunities to get involved with the Guild, build relationships within a community of writers, and benefit from informative programs and networking opportunities. Read more >>

Latest on WGAW Connect

What has our Writers Guild done for us lately?

Glad you asked because the Guild has a wonderful answer in Writers Connect, a short newsletter members get every week. (See? Another good reason to bust your butt to qualify and join.)


FYC FYI

What to look for in For Your Consideration ads.

We’re well into pre-award season, with “For Your Consideration” ads springing up all over town. It’s a good reminder that the MBA’s agreement on credits extends to advertising and publicity as well. Though it doesn’t happen often, it’s not unheard of for a project’s print ads, web promotions, and billboards to be in violation of the credits provisions of the Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement (“MBA”). Read more >>

Ask a Mentor: Make Your Meetings Count

Jeff Nathanson answers a feature writer’s question about general meetings.

How many general meetings should feature writers take a year? Jeff Nathanson (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Catch Me If You Can) says landing work from general meetings depends not on how many you go to, but on what you do when you get there.

Send your questions about the craft, job hunting, your career, or Guild service to Connect (under 100 words, please) with the subject “Mentor,” and we’ll send them to an established screen or TV writer to answer. Questions might be edited for space or clarity and will be published anonymously. Read more >>

Action Alert: We Need COVID Relief Now

With crucial aid set to expire in a week, passage of the HEROES Act is needed now more than ever.

It’s time to TAKE ACTION! The Senate has had months to pass the House’s HEROES Act and provide additional relief from the devastating impacts of the coronavirus. Write to your senators today and tell them to support critical provisions of the House’s bill, to: Read more >>

Upcoming Events

7/28 – IP, Acquiring Rights, When You Need Them and How to Get Them

RSVP. A conversation covering how and when to acquire life rights or rights to previously published material, copyright, the difference between rights of publicity and rights of privacy, and what contracts should include.

7/29 – How to Get Your First Genre Movie Made

RSVP. A discussion on best methods writers need to employ to get their first genre film written and into production. Panelists: Kay Oyegun (This Is Us), Scott Beck & Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place), and others. See the full calendar >>

 

Latest on WGAW Connect

What has our Writers Guild done for us lately?

Glad you asked because the Guild has a wonderful answer in Writers Connect, a short newsletter members get every week. (See? Another good reason to bust your butt to qualify and join.)


“It’s Just Automatic”

Writers sound off about late pay successes from agency-provided information.

Late pay is so pervasive that most writers have a story about waiting weeks, or even months, for a paycheck. It is one of the problems the Guild is working to address in the agency campaign and why our franchise agreements require agencies to share contracts, invoices, deal memos, writer compensation, and commission information directly with the Guild. With this information, the Guild can now see when payment is due, then check with writers to see if they’ve been paid on time and, if payment is overdue, pursue both late pay and interest. In most instances, the MBA requires payment within seven days of commencement or delivery, and interest accrues at the rate of 1.5% per month until the late payment is made. Read more >>

 

For LGBTQ+ Writers, Progress Is Not Always a Straight Line

LGBTQ+ Writers Committee Co-Chair Katrina Mathewson shares her reflections on the state of the LGTBQ+ community in the industry and society.

When I was asked to write about what this particular moment means for the LGBTQ+ community, I felt inevitably pulled in two directions. These days, I find myself torn between where we are as an industry, and where we are as a society. Between pride and frustration. Between what it means to be a queer writer in Los Angeles and what it means to be a queer person in this country. Read more >>

Ask a Mentor: True Talk

Y. Shireen Razack on talking in the writers’ room.

Should a new staff member in an established writers’ room worry about talking too much, or too little? WGAW member and veteran TV writer-producer Y. Shireen Razack (New Amsterdam, Shadowhunters) has some words of advice.

Email your questions about the craft, job hunting, your career, or Guild service to Connect, (under 100 words, please), and we’ll send them to an established screen or TV writer to answer. Questions might be edited for space or clarity and will be published anonymously. Read more >>

3rd & Fairfax Podcast: Hilliard Guess Talks With A Black Lady Sketch Show Creator Robin Thede

On the latest episode of WGAW’s 3rd & Fairfax podcast, host Hilliard Guess talks with A Black Lady Sketch Show creator-showrunner Robin Thede (The Rundown with Robin Thede, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore) about her groundbreaking HBO comedy series and the importance of valuing diverse voices. Listen and subscribe. Also available on SpotifyiTunesLibsyn, or Stitcher.

Latest on WGAW Connect

What has our Writers Guild done for us lately?

Glad you asked because the Guild has a wonderful answer in Writers Connect, a short newsletter members get every week. (See? Another good reason to bust your butt to qualify and join.)


Pitch Perfect

Five things to do in your next virtual pitch meeting.

As if the prospect of pitching wasn’t daunting already, writers now have to do it through the impersonal, virtual workplace that is the Zoom room. The subtle and stressful art of pitching is not made easier when you can’t read the room, make eye contact, or tell if the people in the tiny squares on your computer screen are laughing—or even paying attention.

Luckily, the Guild organized a panel on virtual pitching last week, “Pitch Perfect: Best Practices For Virtual Pitching.” Read more >>

Ask a Mentor: To Staff or Not to Staff

WGAW member Terri Kopp on staffing first vs. selling first.

Should an early career TV writer skip staffing to try to sell their own show? WGAW member Terri Kopp (The Chi, In Contempt) has an answer.

Do you have questions about the craft, job hunting, your career, or Guild service? Email them (under 100 words, please) to Connect, and we’ll send them to an established screen or TV writer to answer. Questions might be edited for space or clarity and will be published anonymously.

Question: “As an aspiring TV writer, should I skip over staffing and go straight to selling my own show?” Read more >>

Written By Spring/Summer 2020 Issue

Pens up, rooms down—a global pandemic means three things: traditional production is shut down, writers are shut in, and coping mechanisms get a shout-out. Only in the new Spring/Summer issue of Written By. In addition, hear from Gentefied co-creators Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez; Little Fires Everywhere writers and showrunner Liz Tigelaar; Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner on the 20th anniversary of American Psycho; the late F.X. Feeney as he analyzes Lolita; the Writers with Disabilities Committee on the work we must all do to increase representation for people with disabilities in the writers’ room and on screen; WGAW members on Humanitas; and film historian Ed Rampell on what we still need to learn from the Hollywood blacklist, 70 years later. Read more>>

WGAW Letter on Returning to Work

June 17, 2020
Dear Members,

There are ongoing and increasingly urgent discussions in the industry about how and when to resume production. We know some members are feeling anxious about what new protocols might mean for writers, so we wanted to give you a brief update.

The WGAW has convened meetings over the past two months with showrunners across all genres to formulate responses to challenges of COVID-era writing and production. Individually, showrunners have been meeting with studio executives about how to produce shows when the time comes to reopen. Collectively, Guild showrunners signed a statement which you can read below, and will organize discussions with each studio to make sure they protect the role of writers as they determine the best protocols to safeguard their productions, casts and crews.

This month the AMPTP put out a white paper with guidelines for reopening motion picture, television and streaming productions in the era of COVID-19, and entertainment unions belonging to the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee put out a separate non-binding document called “A Safe Way Forward.” Although the WGA is not part of that committee, which predates the pandemic and historically has dealt with on-set safety issues, we are aligned with their desire to resume production safely and as soon as possible. The Guild and showrunners will make sure that writers and their interests are protected in the process. For instance, several studios have already acknowledged to showrunners that the central role of writers on set must be accounted for in whatever protocols are finally adopted.

If you have concerns about your workplace health and safety please contact our Legal Department. Here is an FAQ with employment-related questions for this time period.

In solidarity,
WGAW Board of Directors

WGAW Showrunner Statement

In television, the Showrunner is responsible for overseeing the writing, directing, producing and post-production of their television series. We are also the liaison between the production and the network/studio, and the hub through which issues of health and safety run.

So we take a deep interest in the health and safety not just of our sets but of the entire production, including post-production. To that end, we applaud DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters’ efforts in their document “The Safe Way Forward” and appreciate the work of the individual unions and Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force.

As these white papers suggest, the key to these protocols achieving the desired effect – creating the healthiest workable production scenarios possible – is that the protocols are adopted widely and completely. All the departments must work together, and not at cross-purposes, in their pursuit of production health.

The Showrunner’s role here is essential.

Since the Showrunner hires and supervises the director, actors, writers, casting director, production designers, and editors, our casts and crews will be looking to us for reassurance and creative direction, as they did before the crisis. We will work with our partners at our sister unions to communicate, enact, and ensure that every possible effort is made to keep workers safe as they execute the creative mission of the show.

We agree that testing is paramount and the cornerstone of any return to work. We also find their suggestion of a zone system smart and essential – with one caveat: to reduce a director’s guesswork in trying to execute the Showrunner’s vision, and, therefore, reduce the number of reshoots, the involvement of the Showrunners and their writer proxies on the set is a must – either in person or if those with disability or underlying health issues are unable to be on set physically, with proper accommodations so they can still do their jobs effectively.

The Showrunners believe the next step is not to add another white paper to the discussion. Instead, we will focus on additions to “The Safe Way Forward” that underline the practical importance of collaboration.

We do believe we can all return to work safely and many of us have been in touch with our casts about changes that individual productions will make to ensure health and safety. Now comes the hard work.

The Showrunners are ready to get to it and we welcome discussions with individual studios as soon as possible.

In solidarity