Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Strike Has Begun

What's the impact so far?

Well I can only speak for myself here but I've gotten calls and emails from friends and colleagues overseas asking me if the town is "shut down". My answer: No, unless you consider day time talk shows and late night talk shows the entire industry.

Since I am not the audience for either (though admittedly I have watched Ellen and Jay Leno now and again) I haven't noticed much. EXCEPT...suddenly yesterday afternoon my mailing lists started posting up production jobs. In 4 hours I found 4 jobs I could submit my resume for. Maybe that sounds like nothing to people outside of this business, but generally, I'm lucky if I find one job a day I can apply for (most of my work comes from referrals or re-hires by people I've worked with before).

Then I spoke with my friend who is a WGA member. He shared with me some of his experiences. He's been on the picket line, they are required to serve for 4 hours a day. He described it as being in "a high school version of a Clifford Odets play". He and some of his neighbors (other writers) all meet up and go down to do their time on the picket line. He's not writing, but happily he still has an income from teaching which he can still do. Many of the WGA members are not so fortunate.

I asked him if the WGA was going to extend membership to those not in the guild who logged so many hours on the picket lines. This actually happened the last time SAG went on strike, confirmed by someone I know who was on the SAG board at the time. He said he would ask. Stay tuned, I'll report back on that and if so I predict the picket lines will become thick with enthusiastic non-members. Someone else I spoke with today said they could hear car horns all day long near CBS Radford in Studio City. Presumably people are honking in solidarity with the strikers.

So far my local hasn't asked me to do anything but I was forwarded an email that was sent to SAG members (Screen Actors Guild) encouraging them to join in the picket lines and SAG has set up a telephone hotline for actors.
Screen Actors Guild WGA Strike Information Hotline:

All in all - writers rely on their residuals (much like actors do) to get them through those lean times in between jobs. Whereas the "producers" (and I mean the Studios here because that is what we are really talking about - they make up the AMPTP). The Studios rely on DVD sales to break-even and in some cases make a huge profit from. The digital download model can't really be profitable to any but the larger companies like Apple's Itunes and or to the Studios themselves since they already have the infrastructure to deliver content directly or the financial capability to build it. For most independent, self-distributing film-makers that's a business model that is presently out of reach. Though, people are trying -- by putting stuff up on Youtube and a neat site I just discovered called Jaman.

We'll see where this all leads in the coming weeks. Hopefully it doesn't drag on, but I'm not optimistic.

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