‘Everyone knows that the writer’s strike is happening, but actually knowing why, and some of the reasons behind it, will create a better understanding, instead of hearing stories through the grapevine.’
Film data researcher Stephen Follows and directors/ producers Giles Alderson, Dom Lenoir and Phil Hawkins go deep into the facts, stats, percentages and figures of the writers’ strike in this week’s episode of The Filmmakers Podcast.
Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are striking as their pay has not been adjusted to accommodate inflation and therefore they are requesting that minimums are re-evaluated.
Concerns: Money and AI
The main concerns that writers have raised are financial compensation and the role of AI. Writers are raising awareness that, without support, many of them will be forced to seek alternative employment, as they are unable to make a living from their craft.
Stephen raised the following questions:
On streaming channels that have fewer than a million subscribers, the WGA has suggested a residual base of $6,673.
Those between 45 and 75 million subscribers get $13,000. For more than 75 million subscribers, they want $20,000.
You’ll be surprised at the results. Have a listen to the ep to find out what studios have countered with.
While acknowledging the potential benefits of AI in the industry, writers are wary of its impact on their craft. The Writers Guild suggests that AI should be regulated and not used as source material, while the studios are more inclined to explore advancements in technology rather than immediate regulation.
How The Strikes Are Affecting UK Writers
And although it’s taking place in the US and UK unions are not enforced, the strike is impacting the global entertainment industry and the work of writers.
In the UK, the Writers Guild of Great Britain suggests limiting work to British contracts only, during this period but this does present challenges for co-productions involving US partners, as US strike rules may apply.
‘If your contract is written under UK law as a writer, then you’re fine. If it’s under US law strike rules can apply. That’s how they are defining it.
Everyone’s trying to get ahead, trying to be ambitious and trying to look through these opportunities but be very careful if you are trying to see this as an opportunity to get ahead because you may or may not do a lot more damage further down the line because the WGA will ban you from joining the union.’
AI and Screenwriting
Many people, in a variety of industries, have concerns about AI/ modern technology and the impact that it might have on their careers.
It’s worth remembering that while AI can automate certain tasks, it won’t be able to replace writers entirely. The complexity and depth of human storytelling, drawing from lived experiences and emotions, remains unique and challenging for AI to replicate.
The writers’ strike raises valuable awareness for everyone in the entertainment industry, with writers seeking fair compensation in the streaming era.
Their aim? To highlight the challenges faced by writers in an ever-evolving landscape. Balancing technology with being human is key to ensuring a thriving and authentic entertainment industry.
For more, listen to the full episode of The Business of Film Explained III