I wanted to get to some comments, and to hopefully reassure Anonymous, who had this to say:
Hello, Kay, for purposes of identification and reference, I'm the writer who wrote a comment regarding your Meaning of Soul post by beginning that 'I've been in the Guild since the early 70s...' and went on to talk about the history of the WGA giving up the authorship of our own material and how that has directly influenced the creative and economic issues that face writers today. The merits of that aside, I was taken aback that you did not see fit to print my comment. I was recommended to your site by a writer friend I respect, and took the time to write a reasoned observation re your post, personally attacking no one, not usuing abusive language, etc. All I did was give your comments some historical perspective which I thought others might find illuminating to the creative process and the issues facing us now. Clearly, though, all you want to print is affirmation (i.e. "Brilliant post, Kay," etc.) If you're going to censor posts that are not abusive etc., but merely ones you may not agree with...well, then your blog is clearly not one where an honest, open, exchange of ideas can take place, and therefore a total waste of time. Except for you and your sycophants. Too bad.
I don't blame you for being taken aback. I don't remember seeing your post but somebody else said their comment didn't show up either, so maybe Blogger's screwy. If it did show up and I rejected it, I was clearly high that day and that was a mistake. I've been doing the comments as they come in, so I hope I didn't reject it by accident but if so, I apologize. I'm not about rejecting comments that aren't all sunny and "yay, you!" Just FYI.
I have rejected a few comments. A coupla spam, and some troll bleed-through from Mazin's site. Which is something to talk about. English Dave says:
And so far a troll free blog! But they will come, oh they will come.
I'm sure everyone's noticed how on United Hollywood, the first comment on almost every post is by some anonymous blogger with a negative comment. They must be working shifts.
As for Mazin's? More trolls than a Brother's Grimm fairytale.
Exactly. It's easy to attack someone when you're behind the veil of anonymity, which is all but about four people on Mazin's site. I don't require people to use their real identities here but on Mazin's site, anonymity exists only so these trolls can attack others and spread disinformation. But then the purpose of Mazin's site is different from mine. This is just me talking, and people hopefully being interested enough to read. Even as he constantly rejects the notion that the site serves any purpose other than a personal blog, there's a lot of subtext there and that attracts people who needed a place to focus their enmity.
Mazin may not mind when people come to his house and pee on the floor, but I do. That said, I'm not picking and choosing which comments to approve so it'll make me look better. My opinions are mine, and I don't expect everyone to share them. Discussions are great. I'm happy that people are liking the blog, and I like the atmosphere here. It won't go the way of most places on the internet, where every discussion inevitably descends into internet Thunderdome. People who are so angry that they have to attack others can stay on Mazin's site, or comment on Nikki's site or United Hollywood. NOT here.
Obviously, the most important thing going in writer-land is the strike. I do want to talk about it, but I'm not going to talk about percentages and strategy. Nor am I going to continuously apologize to the people who have become collateral damage during this strike. I do that face to face every day on the picket line. I'm not going to defend my chosen profession when some asshat goes, "What are you complaining about? You chose to be a writer. Nobody forced you."
Well. Maybe that one deserves a look.
The entertainment industry is hella glamorous. You flip through US Weekly or People and see what the stars are wearing, where they go on vacation, all that other crap. Making TeeVee and movies is glamorous. Sitting at a computer, pounding away, is glamorous. Going to premieres, being on sets, is glamorous. And don't forget, we all make at least $200,000 a year. THAT is TOTALLY glamorous. People in this industry are set up to be hated. Hell, sometimes by others in the industry, like the IATSE guy the other day who yelled at us and said, "I shit on your protest. You fucked my Christmas." There was a group of us, and we even had the perfect flyer for the guy to read. But he refused to take it. He refused to listen when we tried to tell him that a big chunk of his health and pension plan comes from residuals. Because he didn't care. He didn't want to be rational. His life was being turned upside down (I guess in a few weeks, since he was going to work) and he wanted to take it out on us. It was impossible for him to take it out on the studios, because that's where he was going. And we were visible.
The idea that my profession is so cool and marvelous that I'm not allowed to explain how it can be hard and demoralizing is childish. This is the kind of shit you deal with when you venture out onto the greater internet. It's almost impossible to get your point across because you're too busy defending yourself from people who hate you before they even know who you are. I am not required to suck it up and go, "You're right. My job is so awesomely excellent that I should just shut up and hand you money." Bullshit. I'd love to find the person whose job goes smoothly and wonderfully every day. I think most people who love their jobs do so because they're hard. If something's easy, you take it for granted. There's nothing more gratifying than making it through adversity and having that moment when you go, "Yeah. THIS is why I do it." I think this is a large part of why people are so into sports. Not only is it evident in the faces of the players, but the fans can play along too, and identify with that feeling. And the high that I get from watching Rags To Riches win the Belmont, or Shen and Zhao lay down a perfect program to win Worlds, is what I strive for in my profession. And those moments rock. Everybody should have them.
Okay, enough with that. More comments:
Thanks for your reply to my comment. I thought that I'd be safe here (obviously if I want to work in Canadian film or television), but my worry was that American studios would only hire writers out of L.A. (for television). I read on Jane Espenson's blog about her coming out to Vancouver to do so writing for Battlestar Galactica. I would think having a writer they could go to in Vancouver might advantageous.
American studios DO hire American writers even for shows shot in Canada. Sometimes the staff is based in Canada, especially when it's for a show shot in Toronto, but mostly the staffs are based in the U.S. There are the occasional co-productions, where a certain percentage of the writers and directors have to be Canadian, but there don't seem to be a lot of those at the moment. I think right now, you're safer in Canada!
VDO Vault sent some good links for fans who support the WGA, and mea culpa for not getting to this sooner:
Fans for WGA
Fans 4 Writers
Those are awesome. Thanks!
As I'm sure everybody now knows, the WGA and the AMPTP are going back to the table next Monday. While this is far from a guarantee that there will be a deal or even that the AMPTP WANTS to make one, at least they're going to talk. I prefer to be positive about this and think that they DO want to make a deal, and that both sides actually know what they want. The AMPTP has yet to put an offer on the table, or respond to the WGA's offer from two weeks ago. Yeah, maybe they just want to tread water until they can force majeure their deals. Maybe they want to use the press and go, "Okay, THIS time we went in to make a deal and the WGA fucked us." Whatever. I want to think this is a good sign, so I shall. Anybody who wants to think otherwise can find some pals on Mazin's site.
And here's Dave, a voice from the past!!
It's Dave here again, your old pal from the MBATEOTU. First off, let me say that your picketing accounts have been both intriguing an illuminating. I've also thoroughly enjoyed your posts at Mazin's site. You and Josh Olson seem to be the informed voices of reason over there! sadly, much more so than the douchebag who actually runs the site (did you see his 'magic cake' blog? WTF?) You've really helped provide perspective in the face of the few dorks shouting "You're nothing but a bunch of lazy fatcats" ad nauseum.
Ah. Yes. Magic cake. As Josh tried to point out over there, if we have to resort to using magic to explain residuals, we're fucked.
Anyway, I had a question I wanted to run by you regarding something that recently happened to me. Over the last year and a half, my writing partner and I have written three TV movies and one feature for Larry Levinson Productions, which is a non-signatory prodco. It served as an excellent proving ground, and the checks were enough to keep the lights going and food on the table. We did some good work over there and built a solid rep. Soon afterward, we scored some meetings at Lionsgate, where we began to work out a deal on a project that would've qualified us to join the guild, writing the remake of an 80s horror flick that already had a director attached, but the contracts didn't get signed before the strike, so it pretty much went into an infinite holding pattern. Yeah, we were initially bummed, but we're both fully in support of the issues, as we know our careers will be defined by the outcome of this strike.
The day after the strike began, I got a call from an exec we worked with over at Levinson. He told me that they were still moving ahead with various projects and that they'd love for us to take a couple more assignments for them. He spun it as if it wouldn't be a problem, since Levinson's non-signatory, we're not guild yet, we'd be signing non-union contracts, etc. Thing is, one of Levinson's main financial partners is RHI Entertainment, and they most definitely ARE a struck company. Their name pops up first in the credits on every one of the movies we've written. Levinson also sells their films to a variety of other struck companies, like Lifetime and Spike. I told the exec that, although this seemed like something of a gray area, I didn't think it would be right to accept any assignments for films that would wind up with these companies, even if they weren't technically the ones who were signing my checks, the whole thing seemed somewhat shady to me. The exec, of course, told me that I was being paranoid and that doing work for them wouldn't affect our standing when it eventually came time for us to join the guild. Still, I felt that it would be backhanded and shitty, so I turned him down.
Did I do the right thing here? Despite my non-union status, I want to show solidarity for the union to which I will (hopefully sooner than later) belong. Basically, I just want to know that I wasn't being an asshole.
Legally, I don't know. But in this climate, it's better to err on the side of safety. I do know there's been talk of a lot of slimy shit going on and even if you can honestly say, "I didn't know," there are ways of finding out, so that's no excuse. You could call the WGA, even if you're not a member, and talk to somebody there. They'd be more than happy to answer any questions.
And speaking of solidarity, I'd very much like to support my brother and sister scripters on the picket line. Would I be welcome to come down and join in?
Absolutely!! Everybody's welcome. There's a big rally on Tuesday in Hollywood and the guild is trying to get as many people as possible.
Thanks for this, Kay. I was looking at some of the messages on Artful Writer and even Writer Action about how the showrunners were being unethical by violating their contracts because they refused to walk past their own writing staffs out on the picket line, and thought to myself-- that's no ethical framework I recognize or want any part of. Fuck those people. Even Ted Elliot, who I used to admire. Actually, especially Ted Elliot.
Heh. It's easy to follow the rules when you don't want to deal with your own morality, and that's what I saw going on there. This is a strike, not an orderly disagreement. It's hard enough to disrupt these companies. Why make it easier for them? The point of a strike is to make shit happen. Obviously, Ted and Craig don't think the strike is doing any good, which makes me wonder what they think we're doing. Craig, of course, has yet to grace the picket line so he's out of touch. The showrunners made a huge sacrifice for the rest of us. How can you not be grateful for that? If we're not going to make the studios realize they need us to make money, what's the point?
Thanks for the link. Added yours as well.
Checked out the Moonlight episode that you did, and yes I used torrent as iTunes literally sucks. And you know what, I wish you were writing more :( (obviously not while the strikes on...) as it rocked, made me want to check out the series again (kind of dismissed it after the pilot)
Glad you liked it. I think the show's gotten better every week and I gotta say, it's the most gorgeously shot show I've seen in a long time. Just stunning. As for iTunes, I'm a bitrate whore and iTunes gives me the shakes. DivX is beautiful.
And now we're back to where we started, with Original Anonymous:
Kay, my apologies...as you did post my rant about not posting my initial post...which is more germane to the 'Meaning of Soul', and unfortunately still not posted. But to surmise, when the WGA gave up authorship of OUR OWN CREATIVE WRITING back in the 40s, we doomed ourselves to just getting crumbs from the corporations who are no different from the venal studio heads back then. I would strike forever for the essential right to own what we write. Then and only then would we have economic and creative power. Because as long as they 'own' what we write, very few of us can have the serenity and satisfaction of knowing that what we write makes any kind of a difference. Because they have the power to give us the 'notes', and then when we don't execute our scripts the way they like, they hire our sisters and brothers to rewrite us. The Dramatist Guild stood up to this insanity like a million years ago (and the paradigm was the same -- producers financed plays, just like they finance movies), and they WON. With the exception of James Cain and Dudley Nichols and other who were called Commies, the WGA, however, caved, giving away what we create and dooming us to being percieved as hacks. 'Schmucks with Underwoods.' Our only creative victories for most of us, unfortunately, are our first drafts. Thanks for hopefully posting this bit of historical perspective.
Very interesting. Thanks. The lack of foresight is intriguing. It seems that we're always giving something away that we want back later. What's really screwing us in TeeVee now is that the networks have ownership of the shows. Vertical integration has made everything harder, not easier. It's a mess. It's still possible to do a show that is wholly and purely you. But it's a perfect storm situation that exists about once a generation, it seems. I think about the shows I really loved, and they all existed in a bubble. If they hadn't, they would have been torn apart. "X-Files," "Buffy," shows like that. New networks taking a risk. I was getting pretty depressed about how that wasn't possible anymore, but then came "Mad Men." Same situation, same outcome -- total creator-driven brilliance.
This post was supposed to be short. It is not.