The WGA said Friday that “over the past few months, the guild has provided guidance on over a hundred individual deals to members who have found themselves without their normal advisors due to the agency campaign.”
In its latest membership update on its 10½-month battle with the major talent agencies, the guild reported today that it has provided assistance on deals for pilots, series services and theatrical films “by negotiating individual deals and reviewing proposed writing service agreements.”
“In several dozens of those instances,” the WGA said, “guild attorneys have negotiated final terms and conditions. As a result, the guild has been able to get some direct information on current deal terms that we are happy to share.
WGA & Big 3 Talent Agencies Agree To Mediation, But Don’t Hold Your Breath
“We have previously published a summary of going rates for television employment and pilot deals and will do so again after we receive enough contracts and data from franchised agencies. With this information, we can understand writers’ employment at a granular level, publish information about compensation trends, and enforce the contract precisely and proactively. With knowledge of employment practices throughout the industry, you and your representatives will be better equipped to negotiate fair compensation.”
Many writers have been without agents since last April 13, when the guild ordered all members to fire their agents who refused to sign its agency code of conduct, which, though subsequently modified, banned packaging fees and agency affiliations with related production entities.
Here is a sampling the guild provided of some of the deals it has made recently for its members:
A. PILOT DEALS
1. One Hour Pilot/Showrunner Deal
Pilot Script Writing Fee: $225,000 (split with teammate/co-creator).
Pilot Producing Fee: $50,000 (not split with teammate/co-creator).
Series Episodic Fee: $45,000 network/ $40k cable (not split with teammate/co-creator).
Contingent Compensation: 15% of MAGR reducible to floor of 10% if over 35% (split with teammate/co-creator).
Royalty: $5k per episode payable for each of the first 5 playdates.
Consulting fee: For each season the writer works, the writer will be entitled to a consulting fee of $15,000 per episode for subsequent seasons in which the writer serves as a non-exclusive consultant (not split with teammate/co-creator).
Exclusivity: Writer can develop on a non-interfering second priority basis starting in year 2 subject to a 30-day first look.
Negotiation Highlights: This is the writer’s first pilot and executive producer/showrunner deal. This writer has predominately worked as an editor in unscripted television and as a story editor in scripted television. The Guild negotiated a pilot fee that is $125,000 more than the company’s initial offer. Additionally, the Guild negotiated a pilot producing fee that is $20,000 higher than the writer’s prior quote and the company’s initial offer, and a series episodic fee that is $15,000 above the writer’s prior quote and company’s initial offer.
2. One-Hour Pilot/Showrunner Deal
Pilot Script Writing Fee: $180,000 (2nd position)
Pilot Producing Fee: $45,000
Series Episodic Fee: $45,000
Contingent Compensation: 14% of MAGR
Exclusivity: Deal is in second position. Writer is also non-exclusive while writing the pilot and does not become exclusive on series services until the series has been ordered. Once ordered, writer can develop at all times on a non-interfering second priority basis.
Negotiation Highlights: The pilot script fee of $180,000 is the highest the writer has received for a second position deal. The writer’s episodic fee exceeded her previously highest quote by $3,000 per episode, and is $15,000 per episode above the Company’s initial offer. The contingent compensation percentage we negotiated is also 4% above what the Company initially offered.
3. Half-Hour Pilot/Executive Producer Deal
Pilot Script Writing Fee (shared with co-writer): $115,000
Pilot Producing Fee (for individual writer): $30,000, Executive Producer
Series Episodic Fee (for individual writer): Year 1 – $30,000/per episode as EP; 4% bumps thereafter
Mini-Camp: Mini-camp payments shall be applicable against the next season’s compensation if engaged on an episodic basis, provided such engagement shall not exceed three weeks.
Negotiation Highlights: Original offer: $17,500 pilot producing fee, $17,500 episodic fee as a Co-EP, shared consulting fee at $7,500, Co-EP credit, and a mini-camp. Guild negotiated increases of $12,500 for writer’s Pilot Producing and Series Episodic Fees, as well as a bump up in title from Co-Ep to EP. Guild also negotiated a 3-week limit on the mini-camp.
4. Half-Hour Pilot/Executive Producer Deal
Pilot Script Fee: $115,000
Pilot Producing Fee: $35,000
Series Episodic Fee:
Year 1 – $32,500 episodic fee; all episodes produced
Year 2 – $35,000 episodic fee; all episodes produced
Exclusivity: Develop in 2nd position, no material interference
Negotiation Highlights: Company’s original offer was a Pilot Script Fee of $70,000, Pilot services at $27,500, Co-EP services at $25,000 per episode in Year 1 and Executive Producer services at $27,500 per episode in Year 2. Prior to this deal, the writer’s highest level was story editor at scale on a Kids & Family show. The Guild was able to negotiate significant increases on the Pilot Script Fee, the Pilot Services Fee, as well as the episodic fees.
5. One-Hour Pilot Rewrite/Showrunner Deal
Pilot Rewrite & Bible: $125,000 all-in; Bible @ WGA minimum, split with writing partner; remainder allocated to rewrite.
Pilot Re-Write Bonus: $25,000
Pilot EP fee: $45,000
Pilot Production Bonus: $75,000
Series Episodic Fee: Year 1 – $45,000 episodic fee; 5% bump for Season 2
Series Broadcast Bonus: $25,000 Sole Credit; $12,500 shared credit
Exclusivity: Exclusive in TV and Series Programming during pre-production through production; however, at all times, Artist permitted to engage in development services with respect to all media on a non-material-interference basis in all years. Company has 6 months from completion of pilot writing services to order production of pilot; if pilot produced, Company has 2 4-month “bites” to order series.
Negotiation Highlights: Company opening offer was $100,000 for pilot rewrite & bible; $25,000 pilot production bonus; pilot and series EP fee of $30,000.
6. One-Hour Showrunner/Mini-Room & Executive Producer Deal
Mini-room writing and services: 8 weeks guaranteed at above scale rate of $12,500/week.
Script Fee: $39,463
Co-Write Bible Fee: $32,961
Series Episodic Fee: Year 1 – $43,750 episodic fee, all episodes produced; Season 2: 4% bump
Series Sale Bonus: $12,500
Exclusivity: All services are in 2nd position. Company has seven months following delivery of back up script and bible to order Project to series; if no series order at expiration of seven month period, Artist released from obligations.
Negotiation Highlights: We were able to obtain a mini-room rate of $12,500/week for 8 guaranteed weeks. This represents approximately 135% above Art. 14 scale, which is at the very high end of mini-room rates we’ve seen. We were also able to get the writer’s episodic series fee far above quote, which was approximately $30,000 ($30,000 was also Company’s initial offer).
7. One Hour Pilot/ Co-EP/EP Deal
Pilot Script Fee: $80,000 guaranteed for writer alone (includes story, first draft, 2 sets of revisions, and a polish); writing partner/supervisor obtained a separate fee.
Pilot Producing Fee: $27,500.
Series Episodic Fee: Year 1 – $23,500 episodic fee (Co-EP)
Year 2 – $25,000 episodic fee (EP)
Year 3 – $30,000 episodic free (EP).
Series Sales Bonus: $25,000 if artist receives full credit and $12,500 if shared with a subsequent writer (not including IP rights holder or teammate).
Royalty: $4,000 per episode payable for each of the first 5 playdates and then additional royalty due, a/k/a 100/5.
Contingent Compensation: 5% MAGR for writer alone with 15/15 definition, i.e. 15% imputed for overhead and 15% imputed for distribution. Vesting in quarters.
Exclusivity: Exclusive in television during pilot production and during series production periods, subject to Art 67 of the MBA. Permitted to develop on a non-interfering second priority basis starting in year 2 subject to a 30-day first look.
Negotiation Highlights: This deal is the writer’s first pilot deal. Writer had one prior writing job as a story editor for Art 14 scale.
8. One-Hour Pilot Deal
Pilot Script Fee: $150,000 guaranteed (includes story, first draft, 2 sets of revisions, and a polish)
Format: $15,000 optional
Pilot Producing Fee: $37,500
Series Episodic Fee:
Year 1 – $37,500 episodic fee (EP)
Year 2 – $40,000 episodic fee (EP).
Series Sales Bonus: $25,000 if artist receives full credit.
Royalty: $5,000 per episode payable for each of the first 5 playdates and then additional royalty due
Contingent Compensation: 12.5% MAGR reducible by contingent compensation payable to third parties to a floor of 7.5% and further reducible to 6.5% if Artist receives shared credit. Vesting in quarters (25% upon delivery of pilot script; 25% upon completion of pilot EP services; 25% upon completion of EP services for the first production year; 25% upon completion of EP services for Y2.
Exclusivity: In television and new media series during production periods only.
Negotiation Highlights: The employer is a venture capital-backed incubator for writers from diverse backgrounds. The monetary terms were fixed before the incubator was set up, so we mainly negotiated for better exclusivity terms.
B. SERIES SERVICES ONLY
1. One-Hour Co-EP Deal For Season 3 of an SVOD Series
Series Services: Co-EP with 16 guaranteed episodes at $23,500 per episode covering 51 weeks of work. Writer to be paid overscale amount of $7,382.55 for each additional week worked after 51 weeks. (All other terms previously negotiated by writer’s agent as part of earlier deal.)
Negotiation Highlights: Season 3 of the series moved from broadcast TV to SVOD and became a short order series (only 11 episodes). Under the writer’s original deal, writer was employed as a Co-EP for Season 3 at an episodic fee of $20,000 for all episodes produced. The Guild was able to negotiate a Season 3 amendment to the writer’s deal whereby the writer is guaranteed payment for 16 episodes (even though only 11 episodes will be produced) at an episodic fee of $23,500 per episode, which is $3,500 above what writer’s prior agent negotiated for Season 3. This puts writer’s Season 3 compensation at a minimum of $376,000, which renders writer ineligible for span protection. The Guild negotiated a backstop of 51 weeks to address this issue. If the writer is kept on past 51 weeks, company is required to pay the writer an above-Article 14 minimum amount of $7382.55 per week for each additional week worked.
2. Two Separately-Negotiated One-Hour Co-Producer Deals for Ongoing SVOD Series
The Guild negotiated identical terms for each of these Co-Producers. The key terms are as follows: Series Services: Co-Producer at $20,000 per episode, all episodes produced; 1 guaranteed script; right to develop in 2nd position, no first look.
Negotiation Highlights: Writers were previously story editors on season 5 of the series. Company’s original offer was as follows: Co-Producer credit with a 20 week guarantee at Article 14 scale, plus $15%. The writers’ room on Season 6 will be open for 38 weeks, and 16 episodes will be produced. It was important to these writers that the Company not have the option of termination after 20 weeks. As such, we negotiated a $20,000 per episode fee for each of them, with one guaranteed script each, the right to develop in 2nd position, with no first look to the Company. With a $20,000 episodic fee, and 16 episodes produced, these writers will each earn $320,000 for the 38 weeks. At current Article 14 scale +15%, they would have earned a minimum of $160,241, and a maximum of $304,457.90 for the 38 weeks.
3. One-Hour Executive Producer Deal
Series Services: Executive Producer at $40,000 per episode, all episodes produced, (pickup of 10) capped at a maximum of 40 weeks. After 40 weeks the writer is paid$10,000 per week with mutual option.
Deal term: 1 year only
Exclusivity: services allowed to third party in second position on non-interfering basis
Negotiation Highlights: The Company originally offered $30,000 per episode as a Co-EP with no cap on the number of weeks, three year deal (EP in the second and third years) with 5% increases each of the two subsequent years and services were to be exclusive. The writer was concerned that he would be making less than Article 14.K. minimum because of how long it would likely take to complete each episode. By capping the number of weeks at 40 for 10 episodes, we were essentially able to get the writer a weekly deal of $10,000 per week, which was what the writer wanted. We were also able to get him a 1-year deal, better exclusivity terms, and EP credit, all of which were important to the writer.
4. Half-Hour Writer/Producer Deal
Year 1 – Co-Producer at $15,500 per episode – all episodes produced
Year 2 – Producer at $16,500 per episode – all episodes produced
Year 3 – Supervising Producer at $18,000 per episode– all episodes produced
Exclusivity: Non-interfering development services allowed in Year 2 and every year after.
Negotiation Highlights: Company’s original offer for the writer, who was formerly a story editor, for 22 episodes on Season 17, was as follows: co-producer in Year 1 at an episodic fee of $14,000, producer in Year 2 at $14,420 and supervising producer in Year 3 at $14,858. The Guild was able to negotiate the following outsize bumps: $15,500 in Year 1, $16,500 in Year 2 and $18,000 in Year 3. In addition, the Guild negotiated the right to develop in Year 2.
5. One-Hour Writer/Producer Deal
Year 1 – Supervising Producer at Art. 14 scale + 15% Year 2 –Supervising Producer at a weekly fee of scale + 15%, with a 20 week minimum guarantee. 1 script guaranteed.
Year 3 – Co-EP at a fee of $30,000 per episode. 1 script guaranteed
Exclusivity: Can develop outside of production periods, after the first season, on a non-material interfering basis.
Negotiation Highlights: Writer’s former agent-negotiated deal in February 2019 had him at Producer level and at around $16,000 per episode. The company’s initial offer was first year Executive Story Editor at scale, second year Co-Prod. at scale +7.5%, third year Producer at scale +10%, which represented a step back from his previous deals in terms of title and compensation. We negotiated multiple steps up in title for the writer, getting him Supervising Producer in his first and second years and Co-EP in his third year. We also negotiated a significant increase in compensation in all years, particularly year three where we got $30,000 per episode vs the Company’s scale +10%. This resulted in a $100k+ gain in total economic package. During negotiations, the writer had an offer to work on another series, which we used as leverage.
6. Co-Producer/Producer/Supervising Producer on Half-Hour Series
Year 1 – Co-Producer at Article 14 scale + 10%; 20 consecutive weeks guaranteed;
Year 2 – Producer at Article 14 scale + 15%; 20 consecutive weeks guaranteed;
Year 3 – Supervising Producer at Article 14 scale + 25%; 20 consecutive weeks guaranteed;
1 guaranteed script in Year 1 (non-precedential)
Exclusivity: Artist’s services shall be rendered on: (a) an exclusive, full time and in-person basis during each week that Artist is engaged to render services hereunder; and (b) a non-exclusive, but first priority, no interference basis at all other times. First look on Artist’s development (which development shall be subject to exclusivity restriction during production periods) for those years where Artist is rendering Co-Producer or lesser credited services. Writer can render development services on projects created or owned by writer in second position, provided no interference.
Negotiation Highlights: The structure of the compensation part of this deal is notable in that company agreed to compensate this writer-producer at weekly rates, instead of an episodic fee. Guild negotiated a title bump for the writer, for each year of the deal, and a larger salary increase in Y3. Company originally proposed to keep writer as an Executive Story Editor. Guild was also able to get writer a guaranteed script for Season 1.
7. One-Hour Writer/Producer Deal
Year 1 – received a bump to Executive Story Editor for year 1, 20 week guarantee, scale +5%
Year 2 – Co-Producer at scale +7.5%, 20 week guarantee, 1 script guaranteed
Year 3 – Producer at scale + 10%, 20 week guarantee, 1 script guaranteed
Exclusivity: agreement to develop in year 2 subject to a 30 day first-look and that Article 67 terms would apply to writer in year 1 even if he exceeded the threshold.
Negotiation Highlights: We were able to negotiate a guaranteed script commitment for this writer in years 2 and 3 as well as improve his initial offer, which was to be paid at scale in a staff writer position in year 1, Art 14 scale for a story -editor position in year 2, and executive story editor with a 2.5% bump in year 3.
Finally, the company originally did not want to extend any benefits beyond what was required for Article 67. However, in the end, the Company agreed that Writer 1 could develop in Year 2 and that the terms of Article 67 would apply in Year 1 even if he exceeded the $280,500 limit.
8. Staff Writer Deal on One-Hour Series
Year 1 – Staff Writer, at scale for all episodes produced but not less than 20 weeks
Year 2 – Story Editor, 1 script guaranteed
Year 3 – Executive Story Editor, scale +5%, 1 script guaranteed
Negotiation Highlights: We were able to negotiate a guaranteed script commitment for this writer at the story-editor and executive story editor levels. Additionally, we were able to get the Company to pay the writer at a weekly (not episodic) rate, which helps for purposes of span protection.
9. Half-Hour Producer, Supervising Producer, Co-EP Deal (Second Position)
Year 1 – Producer at $16,500 per episode
Year 2 – Supervising Producer at $18,000 per episode
Year 3 – Co-EP at $21,500 per episode
Exclusivity: In second position to another series. Exclusive in television and digital media, except permitted to develop subject to Companies’ first look in years 2 and 3.
Negotiation Highlights: We were able to get the company to drop a provision stating that the writer could be asked to provide “enhanced materials” for no additional compensation. Additionally, we were able to negotiate an increase of $1,500 per episode in year 3. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this was a second position deal, the Company was unwilling to negotiate improved compensation terms for years 1 and 2. When they made their initial offer they were unaware that this deal would be in second position. We also were able to improve the exclusivity terms. The Company initially asked that the writer be exclusive in all media at all times with no right to develop.
10. One-Hour Co-Executive Producer, Executive Producer Deal
Year 1 – Co-EP at $26,000 per episode
Year 2 – Co-EP at $27,040 per episode
Year 3 – EP at $28,122 per episode
1 script guarantee in year 1
Exclusivity: Exclusive in all media other than feature writing from commencement of writing room through completion of principal photography subject to Art 57. Starting Year 2, permitted to develop on a non-interfering basis. In Year 1, Writer is permitted to develop, shop and pitch existing project at all times subject to 10 day first look.
Negotiation Highlights: Company’s initial offer was for a Co-EP position for all three years. Additionally, Company’s initial offer was $22,500 per episode in year 1 for all episodes produced; $23,400 per episode for year 2; and $24,336 per episode for year 3. Company’s initial offer was also for exclusivity in all media during the term of the contract with no script guarantee at any time. Getting the Company to agree to a guaranteed script assignment was a struggle, but ultimately they agreed.
C. THEATRICAL DEALS
1. Theatrical Motion Picture Deal for U.K. Foreign Entity
Fee: Scale for a first/final draft screenplay plus $25,048 for a guaranteed rewrite fee.
Contingent Compensation: 5% of 100% of Company’s share of net profits, with a most favored nations definition for Net Profits.
Travel: 1st class travel and lodging as needed with a $50 per day per diem.
Negotiation Highlights: This is the writer’s first feature deal. Material deal terms are locked, but conditions precedent (company completing signatory process and delivering company’s treatment to the Guild to confirm that the project is not original) have not been completed. The Guild negotiated a guaranteed rewrite fee and 5% of MAGR (with a most favored nations definition for net profits) that was not initially part of Company’s offer. The Company also agreed to a per diem in the event that travel was needed to perform research.
2. Theatrical Motion Picture Deal for U.A.E. Foreign Entity
Travel: $50,000 travel fee for 1 week research trip to Dubai with producer paying first class airfare plus first class meals and lodging.
Treatment: Producer shall have 12 weeks following the Dubai trip to pay writer $50,000 to write an 8-10 page treatment.
Screenplay: Following delivery of the treatment, Producer shall have a 12 week option to engage writer to write a low budget theatrical screenplay in exchange for $250,000.
Production Bonus: $250,000 to be paid upon commencement of principal photography.
Negotiation Highlights: The Guild did not directly negotiate this deal with the Company, but rather helped a writer compose a counter offer for the Company.
3. Theatrical Motion Picture Deal
Writer employed to rewrite existing screenplay
Fee: Guaranteed rewrite fee: $40,000, Optional polish fee: $20,000
Contingent compensation: 1% of 100% of Defined Net Proceeds
Negotiation Highlights: Company offered only $20,000 for a rewrite, which was significantly below MBA minimum and below MBA standard, and the initial offer did not have any back end. While Company would not move on offering a production bonus, we got them to agree to contingent compensation on the back end. If writer is engaged to perform additional writing services (beyond what we agreed to) the Company is obligated to enter into good faith negotiations for a production bonus. All payments for writing services are 50% upfront, 50% upon delivery.
4. Low Budget Theatrical Motion Picture Deal
Guaranteed Writing Compensation: $85,000
Optional Writing Compensation: $43,000
Production Bonus: $50,000 (half for shared credit); if budget over $5 Million, 2.5% of budget, less guaranteed compensation, with ceiling of $300,000
Set up bonus: $15,000 if at major studio, $10,000 if at mini-major
Negotiation Highlights: Company originally offered $70,000 for guaranteed compensation, and $39,000 for optional writing steps, and we were able to bring it up another $15,000/$4,000, respectively. Company also agreed to become signatory and abide by the credits provisions in Television Schedule A, pay the applicable Pension Plan and Health Fund contributions and agreed to writing periods based on Writer’s preferred terms.
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