UPDATED with corrected information on arbitration language: The WGA East and West will hold an online referendum of their members next month on proposed changes to the WGA’s Screen Credits Manual, which is used to determine writing credits on guild-covered films and TV shows. WGA officials say the proposed revisions are “non-substantive” and are “aimed at clearing up confusion and making the manual more user-friendly.”
The proposed amendments, which were approved unanimously by the WGA West’s board and by the WGA East’s council, now must be OKd by a majority of the combined memberships of the two guilds. The WGA West has twice as many voting members as the WGA East – 10,215 to 4,765, according to the latest reports the guilds filed with the Department of Labor.
Informational meetings will be held October 2 at the guilds’ headquarters in Los Angeles and New York, and members who wish to make pro or con statements must do so by September 20.
The preface to the current manual notes that “the guild is asked more than 150 times a year to assist in the resolution of controversies between writers over their credits” – but that bit of information would be excised from the new manual because that number is not up to date.
Also to be eliminated is this explanation of the guild’s credit-determining process: “Arduous and unpleasant as this chore sometimes is, the guild undertakes it willingly, not only to protect writers from embarrassing personal conflicts but also to ensure the validity of credit records on which the professional status of writers depends.”
Among the many other changes being proposed is a clarification of the definition of what constitutes a “team” of writers. The manual currently states that a team is “two writers who have been assigned at about the same time to the same material and who work together for approximately the same length of time on the material.”
The proposed change would define a team simply as “two or more writers who collaborate to write a specific piece of literary material” – without all the additional language.
Editors note: References in a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that proposed changes to the arbitration process included removing language limiting the types of supporting information writers could present in their written statements to the arbitration committee. In fact, these prohibitions would remain in the manual.