CULVER CITY, California—chants resounded throughout much of Culver City on Tuesday, the day after the Writers Guild of America called for a Hollywood strike. Film and TV studios were unable to reach an agreement with the union until May 1, which led to the halting of all industry-wide writing from writers’ rooms contributing to late-night television and similar series. Abbott Elementary School to screenwriters working on films of all budgets and sizes.
Seeing both Sony Pictures and Amazon Studios lots being put together in Culver City, the strikers walked the field armed with enough clever signs, good humor, and energy to last as long as the studios refused to come to the table.
In the Amazon Studios plot, it was Disney Channel screenwriter and strike captain Nicholas Geisler who led the shouts of strike. While chatting with The Daily Beast, the strike took a break to control traffic, but someone in the crowd kept the hymn book, a protest strategy she learned in her past work at Greenpeace.
“I never know who’s going to start another one,” Geisler said as he looped the strikers through the loop at the end of the block. “There is no more collaborative typeface than TV and movie writing. This spirit of collaboration has made it really easy for everyone to come together and love each other and do a really good job here. Not a single person was worried, scared or nervous.
before becoming the author of serials such as bunk on Disney Channel and Team Kaylie Geisler has also worked in the industry at Netflix under the International Association of Theater Workers (IATSE). that unity now Stands in solidarity with the WGAIt narrowly escaped a strike in 2021.
“When I already took this job that took years, years and years, I already saw how hard it was to survive with that,” Geisler said. “We’ve all had moments where we thought, ‘You did it’. You are a writer.’ Then all of a sudden this great job just can’t afford to pay your rent every month. We can deal with a little short-term pain if it helps us make a long-term gain and lead healthy, middle-class lives with families in a very expensive city.”
WGA members are battling for an updated contract with the rise of streaming services. Currently, publishers can hire a team for what’s called a “mini room”—a shorter, smaller writer’s room that comes at a much lower cost to publishers—making it harder for writers to make a living on a fixed salary.
Marjorie David, vice president of WGA West, said publishers like Amazon were treating writers like temporary workers, which was “a terrible thing to do.”
“The publishers don’t care, they think we’re the Uber driver: ‘Come on, do your job, go home, that’s great. You are free,” said David. “Not good. We don’t want to be exempt from health and retirement. We don’t want to avoid paying our rent. We don’t want to be free from buying a house, sending our kids to school or anything like that. I don’t like seeing the younger members of the guild. Really wonderful and talented – being pushed into a corner where they can’t see themselves as professional writers.”
But publishers aren’t the only ones who avoid paying their authors. Maria Elena Rodriguez, who has been with the WGA for 20 years, claimed that the studios believed WGA members were indispensable, and that after decades in the industry, some platforms had resorted to paying her the minimum amount in the union’s contract.
“I think some studios think we’re just as replaceable as plumbers,” Rodriguez said. “Before I became a writer, I was a line producer. I’ve worked at other union demonstrations without a union – I’m telling you, if you don’t have collective bargaining, you’re not sitting around in this town.
Next to Rodriguez was Robin Schiff, who nodded and agreed with all of Rodriguez’s statements. But Schiff has the advantage of being a bit of a name in the industry. Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and some parts Emily in Paris. Still, the author argues for the fact that his experience did not help in any way.
Schiff said, “If I’m negotiating a deal, companies say, ‘Robin Schiff has a lot of experience, let’s pay him what he deserves!’ They don’t say,” he said. “You have to fight for every penny and have the leverage to get what you deserve.”
This makes getting on the midline even more difficult. Unless you’re a young writer doing the absolute minimum, but you’re also not as experienced as people like Schiff, it’s hard to find a livable wage—or no wage at all.
“There are no more middle-class writers,” Schiff added. “You used to make a living as a middle-class writer and support a family. They have baby writers and executive producers, and that midrange is gone. He later quoted legendary Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg: “Writers are the most important people in Hollywood, but they can never let sons of bitches find out.” (Or something like that.)
This is the first WGA strike in over a decade. The last strike came in 2007 and lasted a little over three months. In 2007, WGA tried to negotiate contracts regarding streaming services, but the studios refused to come to the table. Similarly, in 2023, film and TV companies refused to talk about artificial intelligence in any negotiations.
“They refused to talk about streaming in 2007 because they said, ‘Oh, this is streaming, it’s nothing. no. We don’t know what’s going to happen’” said David. “The day the 2007 strike ended, Hulu opened.”
Nicole Yorkin served on the WGA’s negotiating committee. Along with David, she stressed that artificial intelligence is becoming a bigger issue as the union continues to negotiate.
“It became very clear to us how important AI is to companies when they didn’t even open a discussion about it,” Yorkin said. “Basically, they said they wanted to preserve this technology in case their employees needed it. This tells us that what they probably want to do is eventually replace us and replace a lot of other people in the industry with AI.”
However, this strike also has some positive aspects. Every now and then, while chatting with the WGA members, a familiar face would interrupt and stop the conversation. Smiles and positive energy resonated throughout the sort of meeting, march, and shouting for all of Los Angeles’ writers.
The scene also clarified how the WGA has changed since 2007. “There is a bit of a difference between this time and last time, because you see a much younger crowd than in 2007, a much more diverse crowd,” Yorkin said. “It truly reflects how our industry has changed.”
“If enough people unsubscribe – even in short-term solidarity – that will really make a statement.”
— Film writer Ed Horowitz
While no one can predict how long this strike will last, there are many ways to show solidarity with the WGA. While people were striking in New York or Los Angeles, film writer Ed Horowitz had a suggestion for people who didn’t live in those metropolitan areas.
“Cancel your subscriptions,” Horowitz said. “If people out there start unsubscribing and not watching things on streamers, it’s going to have a huge impact, if people do it by numbers. If enough people unsubscribe – even in short-term solidarity – that will really make a statement.
But even if you don’t want to cancel Netflix, HBO Max, or any of the other major streamers, there are still ways to show your support. Geisler recommended keeping an eye out for funds to contribute to writers who go on strike and lose paychecks from programs they can work on.
“Look for these funds to help residents and therefore people who cannot work but desperately want to support,” he said. “Union strength in any industry is good for that industry as well. We are fortunate to live in a time when labor receives the respect and attention it deserves. Helping these union pushes, whether at Amazon Studios or Amazon, means ultimately helping everyone.”
But if you’re a resident of New York or Los Angeles, Yorkin recommended joining the strike line. When Yorkin arrived, he encountered a woman who was not affiliated with the WGA but still wanted to support the union with her presence.
“For all of us who know we could stay here for weeks or even months, it’s really encouraging to see so much support from other people who understand that it’s not just a bunch of rich people who want to empty their pockets,” Yorkin said. aforementioned. “We’re all here as working writers trying to make things better for all of us.”