Ten years ago, Hollywood writers led the entertainment industry into a dead end, interrupting their work for three months in a dispute over paying for films And TV shows distributed on the Internet and on DVD. The strike stopped dozens of television and film productions and hit the economy of Los Angeles.
Now in the Hollywood community there is a feeling of deja vu, because the threat of a strike again looms over him. After the collapse of negotiations with leading studios, the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) is seeking strikes from its members.
The tense atmosphere is the result of sudden economic and digital changes affecting the business. Since the last strikes of scriptwriters in the industry, there have been major developments. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have changed Hollywood and contributed to the release of an unprecedented number of quality TV series – a phenomenon sometimes called the "golden age" of television.
But times have not become golden for many writers who now have less Work. Shorter seasons are a new rule, in which many serials consist of 10 or less episodes with cable and streaming programs – less than half of the traditional season of the series and the TV show. This led writers to the financial crisis, as many under the terms of the contract can not work on several projects for the season.
"Becoming a writer is becoming more difficult than making a living," said John Bowman, a television program producer and former leader The WGA committee on negotiations.
More and more viewers are giving up cable television in favor of streaming. The studios are also struggling with a significant decline in DVD sales revenue and a reduction in attendance of multiplexes. They release fewer episodes and episodes a year, which means fewer opportunities for screenwriters.
All this set the stage for conflict. From April 19 to 24 an online vote will take place for a permit to strike. Such a move is typical tactics for negotiating trade unions, and WGA notes that this is the answer to the tough stance taken by the studios that have not yet abandoned their terms.
"No one in the council or the committee wants Strikes, "Chris Keizer, co-chairman of the Guild's negotiating committee, said in an interview. "Unfortunately, the only way to earn a fair deal is to use the power of labor."
He challenged studio announcements that the WGA first interrupted the negotiations, and added that the dialogue was interrupted last week after the studios left a voice Message so that the writers do not come the next day. "We have not left," said Keizer, the writer and executive producer, whose services include the TV series "The Tyrant" and the family drama "The Five of Us."
The Union of Film and Television Producers, representing major studios, networks and independent producers Stated that he would like to resume negotiations, but he is still waiting for a response to his last proposal, which writers consider a step back.
"The preservation of the industry in working order is in the common interest, and we are ready to return to negotiations, – reported the Union of Producers.
Negotiations are resumed on April 10, but on many issues before mutual understanding is far away. The possibility of a strike caused mixed feelings among writers around the city. Apparently, the Guild is divided in half. The more experienced writers who survived the 2007-2008 strike are skeptical of this idea. Writers who came to the Guild and business after these events, are repelled from their own needs.
One of the main reasons for the discord is the development of shorter TV show seasons. Now, according to experts, two-thirds of all serials consist of 8-12 episodes in the season, whereas earlier their number varied in the range of 22-24 series. WGA argues that the weekly income of writers is reduced, because the studio is very delayed fees. This is because the series becomes more cinematic and require much more time to shoot. The filming of the episode, which previously shot two weeks, can now take from three to four weeks.
The lack of transparency complicates the matter. Streaming services work by subscription and do not provide data about views, which makes it difficult to develop a formula of balances – charges for repeated displays. For decades, to profit from the release of serials could be a simple scheme: to shoot the first season, to hope that it will be extended for 100 episodes, and then sell the repeats to cable channels or local broadcasters. And as Netflix and other services continue to gain popularity, writers demand that these companies pay balances that are commensurate with those offered by traditional broadcasters.
But such services are not the only source of disagreement. Benefits – the same problem as the age of members of the Guild. WGA wants the studios to increase their contributions to the Guild's health insurance plan by 1.5%, which has been in short supply in recent years. However, the studios responded to this proposal with a refusal, and cut funding by $ 10 million a year.
The guild asks to increase the minimum fees for scenarios for the lowest-paid authors by 3%. A recent letter to members of WGA West said that the average salary of producers of television films over the past two years decreased by 23%, and last year entertainment companies received record profits of $ 51 billion.
The previous strike began in November 2007 and lasted 100 days, more than 60 shutdowns were closed. This is the largest strike of writers in the United States in the last 20 years. Then the Guild of Screenwriters demanded a new contract with the Union of Film and Television Producers, which would increase the percentage of deductions for authors selling DVDs and the Internet.
Labor experts noted that the detrimental effect of the strike helped the writers achieve Success they might not have achieved. Within the framework of the agreement, the authors receive a fixed amount and 2% of the sales profit for the third year in the first two years. However, the strike was financially destructive for many other industry workers, especially for technicians and art workers, many of whom live from salary to salary.