UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 25, 2024

OPINION | Writers’ strike participants aren’t asking for too much

More than 11,000 screenwriters took to the streets of Hollywood to protest studios’ unjust labor practices, signifying the official beginning of the writer’s strike. Numerous TV and film productions were suspended while both strikes are still going on. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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Picture this: You work for months on end to write a script. Multiple versions of the script are written until the perfect version is found. That script gets transformed into a movie, then it wins a bunch of awards and nominations. The actors and producers get highlighted while you, the writer, continue writing while living in a little apartment you can barely afford.

Reasons similar to the scenario above are why there is a writers’ strike occurring. Certain things need to be changed for writers but hopefully within a short time period.

On May 2, the Writers Guild of America went on strike for an increase in compensation for writers. The WGA, a labor union that represents screenwriters, is striking against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The WGA list of demands includes:

  • a fix of the erosion of pay
  • change in the abuse of screenwriters
  • the failure to protect Appendix A writers in the move to streaming
  • the dismantling of the writer’s process in television
  • the threat of Artificial Intelligence
  • providing streaming residuals that grow with viewership

These are some of the things that the writers on strike are hoping to see change. The list includes reasonable demands that most workers would want.

The screenwriter’s process has been changed due to the shortage of hired writers. Instead of having big groups of writers, they are left with small groups. With fewer writers in a group, they have fewer people to share their ideas with, and a quicker turnaround time is needed.

As an English major and writer myself, it is one of my favorite things when we discuss our writings in class. These discussions with peers allow for new ideas, improvements and changes to be created. When writing something important, like a movie script, I can see why writers would want to collaborate with their peers in a large group.

AI is a generating program that has most people fearing for their jobs, including writers. Writers fear that studios will start generating AI-produced scripts, which is a sincere concern. Hopefully, some form of contract gets made between WGA and AMPTP that keeps AI out of the future for screenwriters. It would be very sad to see a writer’s job replaced by a computer.

The WGA also stated that screen pay has declined 14% in the last five years. As part of the strike, writers are fighting for an increase in pay. Screenwriters who are not A-List or the top writers are sometimes barely scraping by due to the uneven pay rate.

An increase in pay should be given to those writers who are trying to become A-List so they have more of a chance of succeeding. It is already hard to become a successful writer but even harder when money is another factor along with competitiveness.

The last time writers went on strike was in 2007 due to DVD sales, and it lasted about three months. This writers’ strike has now continued on for four months with not much change. So, when does it become too long?

There have been many side effects from the writers’ strike already. The release dates of many movies and shows have been delayed due to the writers’ strike occurring. Some shows impacted by the strike include “Stranger Things” season finale; “House of Dragon” season two; “Euphoria” season 3; and “Cobra Kai” season finale.

Personally, I have been devastated to see some of my favorite shows delayed. My family and I were all invested in “Stranger Things,” and with the cliffhanger they left season four on, we hate waiting even longer to find out what will happen in the next season. This is why part of me hopes that the writers’ strike is solved relatively soon so I can go back to binge-watching some of my favorite shows.

Late-night talk shows were some of the first hit by the writers’ strike. Shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” are only airing re-runs until the strike is over. By only airing re-runs, these late-night talk shows are losing a lot of money. Reasons like this are why the writers’ strike needs to end relatively soon. It is important that the change for writers is made before certain shows go bankrupt.

Some celebrities are also standing with the writers in this strike including Chris Pine, Drew Barrymore, Jack Black and Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is great to see celebrities join the writers in this strike for change.

A video called, “This Labor Day, We Are All in This Together” was released on Labor Day by WGA that discusses the standing points of WGA. It emphasizes the point that the writers are not going to back down until some form of change is made.

Hopefully, the WGA and AMPTP can compromise and come to an agreement soon. I don’t want the writers to back down, but there is only so long that a strike can occur before it becomes irrelevant. Even if it is a little upsetting to see some of our favorite shows delayed, it is important that the writers see that their demands are met.

I hope change is made through this writers’ strike. Not just the compensation, but for people to realize the importance of writers. With Hollywood pretty much shut down now, maybe writers will start to be more appreciated in society.

Interested in seeing some change for the screenwriters? You can support the writers by reposting on social media or even donating to The Entertainment Community Fund.