As talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the fifth in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age. (Note: Writer #10 didn’t reply to this question.)
DEADLINE: What tangible gains or losses did you realize through that strike, financial or other?
WRITER #1: I support my guild 100% and I always will. I think of the WGA like a relative — I can say something strong about them but if you do we’re going to have a problem. There could have been significant gains, but the strike was mis-managed in my opinion by [Patric] Verrone. When things were turning for the writers in a positive way, that’s right when they rushed to settle. If you’re going to hold out for that many months, go all the way and make real gains. If you’re not prepared to do that, don’t go on strike at all because the studios will find a way to engineer a strategic retaliation and that came in the form of one-step deals. Honestly, we went halfway with the strike, stopped and then complained about it for years. A lot of really sneaky stuff happened in the closing weeks of the strike. I was invited to several “behind closed doors” secret meetings and I declined. The TV showrunners were put in a tough position by the studios and they didn’t all behave in the best interest of their fellow writers. Some did. A strike is like a gun — don’t take it out unless you’re really prepared to use it. And using it doesn’t mean calling a strike — it means staying on strike until you achieve what is right and what is fair. Essentially we only loaded the gun. We never really fired it. The strike isn’t the bullet. Holding out long enough to meaningfully change things for writers, that’s the real bullet and that would have taken another three months in my opinion. Three more months, and more would have been achieved. I am well aware that others will disagree with that statement but it happens to be true.