NEW YORK CITY – Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) added 22 digital media companies as signatories in 2009. Thirty writers have become guild members as a result of digital media work covered by guild contracts this year. The exponential increase in digital media projects covered by the WGAE is the result of the union’s focus on new organizing.
“The business models, distribution structures, and creative opportunities in digital media are still being developed. The fundamental goal of the Writers Guild 2.0 initiative is to ensure that creators are at the table as decisions are made about these basic issues,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson. “The enormous potential of digital media won’t mean much if writers and other creators can’t make a living, or if they must cede creative control.”
Rapid growth in signatories shows that digital media creators feel a strong need for guild representation. Digital media producers say they seek the same benefits in guild membership as any other writer, such as healthcare, credit for their work and a community willing to fight for their rights.
Matt Koff, co-writer of the show “9am Meeting”: “I joined the guild for the same reasons as everyone else: respect, recognition, and Joss Whedon’s eternal friendship.”
From Don Hooper, writer and owner of Jamtown Films Productions: “I joined the WGA so that I wouldn’t die; out-of-pocket health care, just like my failed attempts at sustaining a Hollywood drug addiction, is just way too expensive.”
Ben Zelevansky of writing team BenandAlex.tv: “Joining the Writers Guild means becoming a part of the larger community of creative professionals. But mostly I just wanted to meet Paddy Chayefsky. Turns out he’s been dead for about 30 years. At least now I can write off movie tickets on my taxes.”
Alex Bloom of BenandAlex.tv says he joined the WGAE for legitimacy, “if someone doesn’t think what I’ve written is funny, I can shove my guild card in their face and cackle.”
Dan McNamara, writer/creator of “The Bear, The Cloud and God”: “I got a discount on shoes!” (Members do indeed get an annual discount).
New WGAE signatories announced in the last quarter of 2009 are:
— 9am Meeting – Award winning animated web series, ny.channel101.com/show.php?show=200
— AGBK – A Brooklyn-based production company creating and producing of web series, short films for the web, branded entertainment/web commercials and music videos which have won awards in national and international festivals. AG-BK.com
— The Bear, the Cloud and God – Animated web series which has also aired on cable channel G4TV. ny.channel101.com/show.php?show=213
— The Battery’s Down – Live action musical web series featuring cameos from top Broadway stars. Soundtrack records available. thebatterysdown.com
— Confirmed Bachelors – Animated web comedy series starring radio star Frank DeCaro, uses 1970’s Hanna-Barbera-style animation. www.theconfirmedbachelors.com
— Alex Bloom and Ben Zelevansky – Live action and animated web series ranked #16 in the iTunes directory of comedy podcasts. benandalex.tv
— Downsized – Live action web series praised by Tubefilter and Visioweb.Tv. Second season will stream on StrikeTV. downsizedthewebseries.com
— Duder – Webby award winning live action series with 22 episodes online. duder.com
— Gavin Lance – A unique live action take on the comic book genre. gavinlance.com
— Guy and Cut Films – Production company specializing in original web series and short films guyandcut.com/reel.html
— Jamtown Films – Production company’s work has been official film/pilot selections in New York TV Festival, Big Apple Film Festival, Queens International Film Festival and more. jamtownfilms.com
— Respect Films – Production company producing live action web series including psychedelic sci-fi show The Third Age and for NFL Writers Room for ESPN, among others. respectfilms.com
— Undead New York – Original animated web series in production.