The WGA West has launched a new online resource to help members and their representatives “make the best deals possible” now that all the major talent agencies have signed the guild’s franchise agreement. Called the Writers Deal Hub, it’s designed to give members an idea of how much their fellow film and TV writers have been paid in recent years.
In a message to its members on Wednesday, the guild said it launched the Deal Hub “to provide members with a centralized resource dedicated to helping them negotiate their individual overscale deals. Using contracts and other information primarily provided by agencies through the new franchise agreement…this information should help you leverage better overscale pay in your and your reps’ negotiations with the companies.”
Based on its analysis of more than 1,000 screenwriting deals, the guild found that $250,000 is the median pay for all one-step deals – in which a writer is hired to write a single draft of a screenplay – while the median pay for studio deals is $293,750, with $2 million being the maximum reported. These first draft deals account for nearly half of the screenwriting contracts the guild analyzed, including deals where only one step is guaranteed as well as contracts with multiple guaranteed steps.
Those numbers change, however, when broken down by experience level. “For new writers working on one of their first jobs, the median for a first draft screenplay is $100,000, with the maximum reported one-step deal at $300,000,” the guild said. “The numbers increase for members who do not have a screen credit, but may have worked in television or on other screen projects that haven’t been produced, or where they were not credited. For these writers, the median was $140,000, and the maximum reported compensation was $500,000. On the other hand, writers who have been credited on a film had a median one-step deal of $400,000, which increases to $450,000 among writers who have two or more screen credits. Notably, writers who have been guild members for 10 years or more, regardless of credit, had the same median compensation as members with at least one screen credit.”
A little more than half of screenplay contracts include more than one guaranteed step; most commonly these are two-step deals with a rewrite as the second step. In deals with a second or third guaranteed step, the median for the total guaranteed compensation is slightly lower than for one-step deals, which the guild says reflects the fact that many one-step deals are significantly above the minimums contained in its basic contract. “For newer members and those without screen credits, multi-step deals result in higher pay at both the median and maximum reported levels,” the guild said, “with some of this increase driven by studio deals.”
Rewrites, meanwhile, are the second most common type of screen deal. The median for a one-step rewrite across all companies, including the studios, was $150,000. The maximum reported one-step rewrite deal was $1.5 million. “Rewrite compensation also increases with experience level,” the guild said. “Newer writers saw a median of $75,000 for a rewrite, with the maximum reported compensation for a one-step rewrite deal at $250,000. For writers without a screen credit, the median was $85,000, with a maximum reported amount of $750,000. The median rewrite deal for writers with at least one screen credit was $200,000, and this increased to $250,000 among screenwriters with two or more credits. While most rewrite contracts are for one guaranteed step, there are a small number with multiple guaranteed steps.”
See the guild’s complete Screen Deal Guide here.
The new Deal Hub also includes data for TV deals. For TV pilots, nearly 1,000 guild members provided information about their deals in the guild’s 2018 survey, which, adjusted to reflect the annual minimum increases in the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement, are detailed in the charts below.
Median Maximum Reported
Pilot Script $ 105,000 $ 525,250
Pilot Producing Fee $ 34,250 $ 84,000
Episodic Fee $ 31,500 $ 81,500
Series Sale Bonus $ 26,250 $ 68,250
Median Maximum Reported
Pilot Script $ 157,500 $ 709,250
Pilot Producing Fee $ 39,500 $ 105,000
Episodic Fee $ 36,750 $ 105,000
Series Sale Bonus $ 26,250 $ 63,000
Broadcast Network Pilots
Pilot Script $ 157,500 $ 202,250
Pilot Producing Fee $ 47,250 $ 42,000
Episodic Fee $ 42,000 $ 42,000
Series Sale Bonus $ 26,250 $ 26,250
2019-2020 Writer-Producer Episodic Fees
Title Median Maximum Reported
Co-Producer $ 14,750 $ 19,500
Producer $ 16,750 $ 21,000
Supervising Producer $ 18,500 $ 26,250
Co-Executive Producer $ 24,500 $ 47,250
Executive Producer $ 33,500 $ 84,000
Showrunner $ 46,750 $ 105,000 (excluding overall deals)
The Deal Hub also contains a TV weekly pay calculator, and guides for episodic TV, mini-room deals, span, and options & exclusivity.
You can see all of the guides here.
“Every three years the WGA negotiates the Minimum Basic Agreement and works to make improvements to minimum compensation terms that benefit all writers,” the guild told its members. “But the MBA only provides a floor from which better-than-minimum (or ‘overscale’) deals can be made. Minimums determine a portion of writers’ total pay, but overscale deals are critical to how writers make their year.”
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