WGAW’s Official Announcement to Members about Negotiations with AMPTP

July 1, 2020

Dear Members,

Today the MBA Negotiating Committee unanimously approved a tentative agreement with the AMPTP for the 2020-2023 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA). We are recommending the WGAW Board and WGAE Council send the agreement to the WGA membership for a ratification vote later this month.

Upon ratification, the agreement and the minimum increases would be retroactive to May 2, 2020 and would expire on May 1, 2023.

Many of the new terms track those recently negotiated by other guilds, including increases in SVOD residuals, the lowering of SVOD budget breaks, and elimination of almost all SVOD grandfathering, as well as rollbacks, including syndication residuals.

We were able to fight off significant writer-centric rollbacks, which would have been very damaging if they’d made it into the MBA.

In addition, as part of an overall package valued at more than $200 million over three years, we were able to achieve several writer-specific gains.

The writer training and new writer discounts that undercut screen and television minimums and disproportionately impacted underrepresented groups have been eliminated.

A new paid parental leave fund available to all writers who qualify for health insurance was established, with benefits beginning in May 2021. The benefit will be entirely funded by an employer contribution of .5% on writers’ earnings.

Our pension fund will receive an immediate 1.5% contribution increase to 10%, with the ability to divert an additional 1.25% from minimums, if needed, over the final two years of the contract. This increased funding of our pension plan, totaling 2.75% over the term of the contract, was a vital goal of this negotiation and sets our plan on a much firmer foundation.

We also improved protections for television writers in the area of options and exclusivity, including specific limitations on options after short periods of employment, and expanded the number of writers covered by the span protections first negotiated in 2017.

Although the ongoing global pandemic and economic uncertainty limited our ability to exercise real collective power to achieve many other important and necessary contract goals, we remain committed to pursuing those goals in future negotiations.

We thank all of you who supported the goals of the negotiation and this committee. More details about the deal will be posted after the agreement has been reviewed by the WGAW Board and WGAE Council.

In solidarity,

MBA Negotiating Committee

Michele Mulroney, Co-Chair
Shawn Ryan, Co-Chair
Betsy Thomas, Co-Chair

Liz Alper
Arash Amel
John August
Amy Berg
Ashley Nicole Black
Adam Brooks
Francesca Butler
Patti Carr
Robb Chavis
Meg DeLoatch
Travis Donnelly
Kate Erickson
Dante W. Harper
Eric Heisserer
Melissa London Hilfers
Elliott Kalan
Chris Keyser
Adele Lim
Peter Murrieta
Luvh Rakhe
Dailyn Rodriguez
Erica Saleh
Sara Schaefer
David Slack
Lauren Ashley Smith
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone

David A. Goodman, Ex-Officio
Marjorie David, Ex-Officio
Beau Willimon, Ex-Officio
Kathy McGee, Ex-Officio
Bob Schneider, Ex-Officio

Solid Advice For New Writers in Search of an Agent

One of the most helpful articles about the writer-agent relationship we here at TVWriter™ have ever read.

What to Consider When Looking for an Agent
by Quressa Robinson

Many of you are probably querying or preparing to query. Maybe you’re between agents. Whatever the case, I wanted to give a bit of an overview of the things you should keep in mind as your writing career progresses. Much like any relationship, finding the right agent, editor, publisher, etc., can be hit or miss. Everyone has the best intentions and hopes things will work out, but no one can predict the future. We enter into what we hope will be longterm partnerships after a phone call and a series of questions, questions that can never address every possible scenario. Sometimes, the partnership just doesn’t work, which is fairly common in publishing. Regardless, here are some things to consider.

Editorial vs. Non-Editorial Agent. At this point most, if not all, agents are editorial. It has become a significant requirement that agents polish clients’ manuscripts before taking them out on submission. Still, there are a variety of editorial styles. Some agents just edit the first 50 to 100 pages and then include big-picture notes. Some do extensive line and developmental editing and also include an edit letter. Some may only do an edit letter. You can ask an agent what their editing style is, but their answer won’t really matter until you know what style works best for you. Try to get a variety of peer edits in various styles. If one works better for you than another, you know exactly what you’re looking for. If they all work, excellent!

Brainstorming/Concept Collaboration. How involved in the creative process would you like your agent to be? When we go out on sub, I have my clients send me five ideas for their next project….

Read it all at nelsonagency.com

Big Production dreams? No $$$? Read This

The people over at Stage32.Com are so smart they sometimes scare us. Here, as Rod Serling might have said way back when, is a “case in point.”

How to Create a Web Series with Literally Zero Budget
by William Joseph Hill

The funny thing about coming up with a web series is that sometimes it’s better to not try and create a web series. What do we mean by that? Well, if you’re looking for a big picture to start from, chances are you won’t be satisfied with anything less than a big idea.

The saying goes “Write what you know.” That’s true — we had a lot of ideas that weren’t related, so we started making short films in our apartment, using just us as the cast and crew. A few of our early films consisted of taking a nursery rhyme and turning them into sketches. The Muffin Man was our first short we did together, and we followed up with Itsy Bitsy Spider which had some visual effects thrown in for good measure.

Our third short film together was based on a song that Pamela had come up with years before…That Darn Girlfriend. The song was based on a rant Pamela had about relationships, but the song morphed into something that sounded more like a 1960s sitcom. So we shot it as if it was a sitcom, with an old TV 4:3 aspect ratio and Technicolor-style color grading. Vic, the boyfriend, came home from a business trip to tell his girlfriend Valerie that she got his plane ticket for the wrong destination. With an added laugh track, and cartoony end credits that reminded us of the old “Bewitched” title sequence, we had our classic TV parody.

Audiences who watched the episode on our YouTube channel loved it and kept asking us when the next episode was coming out. At that point, we realized that we actually had a web series! The short film became the pilot. The great thing about this project is that because it is completely episodic, where each episode stands alone and isn’t really serialized, we didn’t need to plan out the entire season before going into production. Sometimes the big picture starts with a sketch…!

Read it all at stage32.com

A year of living uncomfortably

Nathan Bransford, one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers and writing consultants is here with some thoughts about 2020, the year we can all probably agree in which we have been “living uncomfortably” indeed.

by Nathan Bransford

One of the double-edged swords of my personality is that I try really hard to find common ground with people.

On the one hand, seeking common ground forges connections; it recognizes shared experiences and our ultimate shared humanity. It makes me an agreeable person on the whole.

But sometimes the ground isn’t common. It’s a comfort to think we are all the same in the end, but it can be a fiction that minimizes the extent to which we don’t walk down the same streets in the same bodies.

By trying too hard to bridge gaps, you can end up minimizing crucial differences that deserve to be seen because they need to be acted upon rather than simply patched over.

Rejecting common ground is uncomfortable. Letting those differences explode into action that changes the world is uncomfortable. Facing an uncertain future is uncomfortable.

But sometimes we should be uncomfortable.

Unequal uncomfortableness should make us uncomfortable

The disease at the heart of this pandemic, which I have now thankfully recovered from, has one of the most fundamental and unnerving symptoms imaginable: it takes your breath away.

It’s uncomfortable, even when it doesn’t end up being debilitating or fatal….

Read it all at nathanbransford.com

Need help with your book? Nathan is available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!

For my best advice, check out Nathan’s guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and his guide to publishing a book.

And if you like this post: subscribe to Nathan’s newsletter!

WGA and Hollywood Studios Set Tentative Agreement on New Contract

Looks like the WGA and the AMPTP just about have a deal. Everybody ready to break out the champagne. https://t.co/s9JxK9XKHI https://t.co/Ydez4dYkHB #tvwriting #screenwriting #writingtips #webseries #audiofiction pic.twitter.com/lCI2tbcpBm

Here’s the story from Variety.Com.

The Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios have set the broad outline of a new master film and TV contract, quieting concerns about labor strife adding to the industry’s struggle to relaunch production amid the turmoil of the pandemic.

Multiple sources said the three-year contract agreement was essentially settled in the wee hours of Wednesday after a marathon negotiating session between WGA members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Representatives for the WGA and AMPTP could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sources said the WGA made significant gains on what was the biggest sticking point in the talks at the end, namely the issue of how long writers can be held off the market under exclusive option to a TV series when the show is out of production. The deal is also believed to raise the earnings threshold for writers working on short-order shows to be paid under a more advantageous per-episode formula.

Previously, writers who earned less than $280,000 per season from a show were eligible for the formula designed to make sure that they were still being paid at the guild’s minimum weekly rate — something that went awry for many writers as more shows began to have longer production cycles for a less than 22-episode orders. The new deal is believed to move that cap up to $325,000 per season….

Read it all at variety.com