Writer’s Strike: Fact vs. Fiction

Writer’s Strike: Fact vs. Fiction May 3, 2023
If you hadn’t heard yet, the Writer’s Guild of America is on strike.  Quite a few people have asked for my thoughts on what the outcome is likely to be.  Honestly, there’s no telling how this will turn out. The last time there was a writer’s strike, it ushered in the reality show era. This time around, the industry is still learning what things look like post Covid. Not knowing how long it will last or what final negotiations will look like, it’s very hard to predict an outcome. With the Director’s Guild (DGA) and Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) both preparing upcoming negotiations, this strike and the outcome are exceptionally important to all aspects of the entertainment industry.
Image courtesy of WGA West.
If you weren’t aware, filmmaking is a little bit like an assembly line. Everyone has their part to play and then they move on to their next gig and let the next person take over until there is a complete film or show. Sometimes it’s Detroit car factory smooth and some days it’s Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, but that’s generally how a film runs through the various stages from conception all the way through distribution. So many have referred to these negotiations as the tip of the spear.

More than just story

Everyone understands that the screenwriter is essentially a tour guide that will take you on a journey. Whether it be romance or drama or adventure, we’re the storytellers. However what you may not realize is that the script is the foundation of the entire production. A completed script gets that entire assembly line process moving. My producing partner refers to a script as the blueprint for the house. A blueprint shows you the size of the house, how many levels there are, the number of rooms, etc. Without it, you have no idea how much material to purchase or how many workers to hire. Without a script, you have no idea how many locations you will need, how many actors you need to cast, props, costumes…it’s all contained in those precious script pages. Even as most people in an audience will never really pay attention to who wrote the script, you also wouldn’t get a single actor signed on to a project without a script.

Screenwriters are…

This week, because of the writer’s strike, a lot of discussions about writing and filmmaking have been happening. I rarely venture into the comments unless I have a reason to pay attention, but this week I have been curious.  It’s been very enlightening for me. This week I have heard that writers are:
  • Living high and fancy lifestyles
  • Getting greedy with their hands out
  • Out of touch with the real world and how people live
  • Whiny self-indulgent hacks

Let me set the record straight. I don’t know one single screenwriter who is living some big rich and famous lifestyle. I don’t know a single screenwriter who isn’t constantly on the lookout for their next gig in order to pay the bills. And I don’t know a single screenwriter who is in this for fame, fortune, or wealth. Every single one of my screenwriting friends would laugh out loud if you were to suggest any of those things.

Now I am nowhere near being an A list screenwriter. (Really I’m not B or C or D list either. My place probably sits somewhere in the jumbled lump of LMNOP alphabetics if I’m honest.) But I have been writing professionally for a long time and I do have quite a bit of experience in my little corner of the world, so this all comes from that experience.

However, the screenwriters I know all live pretty similar lifestyles. We don’t live in big fancy houses. None of take limousines or get chauffered to work. We also don’t regularly hang out with celebrities. Honestly?  We’re all kind of average. Incredibly talented, brilliant, and gloriously witty, but when you see us out and about, we’re average. We don’t get recognized out in public. We pay our bills just like everyone else. And we love what we do. Exceedingly abundantly above all measure, we love our jobs.
The next time you come across someone saying those things about screenwriters, just substitute my name instead of writer. It can change  perspective pretty quickly.
  • Lori Twichell lives a high and fancy lifestyle.
  • Lori Twichell is getting greedy with her hand out.
  • Lori Twichell is out of touch with the real world and how people live.
  • Lori Twichell is a whiny self-indulgent hack.
There’s also quite a bit of information out there about what was requested and what was rejected.  Here is a document from the WGA outlining specifics. 
Do you have more questions or comments to share? Let’s talk!  I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Stop by and let me know what you think!
About Lori Twichell
Lori Twichell is a screenwriter, publicist and marketing director in the entertainment industry. You can read more about the author here.
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