Few screenwriters go public with details of the sorry state of the Writers Guild’s very arbitrary arbitrations over credits. But veteran scribe Doug Richardson does. He recently was one of the independent judges on a credits arbitration and blogs that “the awful process” made him recall his most memorable tale of woe. Even though he won. Here he explains why so many writers fight hard for credit besides recognition:
Money. The most obvious of motives are the hefty residuals that can be banked after a hit movie and also the potential for later employment by studios who generally prefer to hire writers with successful track records.
But there’s this other, less discussed, carrot-on-a-stick. It’s this little clause found in most screenwriter’s motion picture contracts called the “credit bonus.” Simply put, if the writer gets credit, the writer shall receive a big-assed bonus. Such is usually a last-minute negotiating giveaway to the writer in lieu of taking less dough up front. And it’s looked upon as funny money by industry lawyers because, by the time the movie gets made–if ever–who the hell knows how many writers might’ve worked on it, let alone how many deserved or could receive credit? Smooth, huh? Especially if it acts as catnip for snubbed writers who see the process of WGA credit arbitration as a potential lottery win.