January 21, 2008

The Hollywood Writer's Strike and Awards

The writers are the backbone of the movie industry in Hollywood but the brain is the producer.

Without the brain, nothing can function. What if the studios all decide to close shop for 6 months or make novel adaptations using writers from abroad? Hollywood would collapse as the writers cannot pay the other members of the movie industry.

That is why the strike by the WGA is not only silly but senseless.

It is even worse that the actors are boycotting the ceremonies in the name of supporting writers. The Golden Globes not happening caused a lot of problems for the others -- the technicians, art directors, and even journalists. The Oscars of 2008 will be a landmark as it would be the 80th in the history of Hollywood.

If it doesn't happen, the writers of WGA would be successful in shooting their careers dead while the actors can always act in a British, European or Asian movie.

Let us think about this for a moment.

What is the actors' problem? If they wish to show solidarity or empathise with the writers why don't they just take the same pay packets as the writers, work for free and give their money to the writers or go on strike with them? This is the height of absurdity and pretense.

Unfortunately, WGA are not the sole custodians of scripts in the world as they seem to think so. However, Hollywood studios have a lot of money with them to spend which they can do on a non-WGA script.It is true that without stories, movies don't get made but without the money of the producer nothing can ever get made. So blackmailing employers is not really a good idea.

Does this mean the producer should be allowed to dictate all terms and the writers have to simply accept it? Nope.

If you don't like the terms, you can try to re-negoniate it or go to another studio. If that doesn't work you are free to approach someoneelse in Europe, Australia, Japan or India to produce it. Or maybe the Hollywood actors will put their money where their mouth is and produce the films themselves and help out the writers by giving them the copyrights for each Internet download, re-run, etc. After all, several actors have production houses too.

The writer's strike is also affecting cinematographers, stunt people, art directors, etc. and is not just writers vs producers.

Probably, the cinematographers can go on strike next, refusing to visualise the script by writers or show these actors in good angles as they are also not given their cut in each download or re-run. Then the stunt people can follow as they risk their lives and are not paid a cut each time the stunt is shown or watched in any part of the world.

Maybe like writers, everyone from cinematographers, stunt artists all the way to the clap boy should be able to copyright their style, move, angle, etc. so they own it and they too can negotiate their rights and payments with the studios.

This way the writers of WGA will have effectively shown how to kill the American Movie Industry.

Strikes are a public nuisance. The strikers are essentially a group of blackmailers not working ( usually a few blackmailers with the rest following as they have no choice or say in the matter ) and not caring how many others are affected by their actions. Also, all those who go on strike don't necessarily do it by exercising personal "choice" but more due to "force" or "pressure" from the guilds.

Writers should be the ones to know there is no such thing as a collective stomach or a collective brain.

So is there a way out ?

Yes. Dissolve the guilds and negotiate your own contracts and terms as far as the rights go. If you feel you are being exploited, have a Hollywood Chamber for Complaint Redressals, re-negotiate or sue the studio as a last resort for rights violations.

Writers, take a close look at the WGA and see who are the ones who are dictating the strike as it is not possible that all members of WGA woke up one day and agreed to go on strike. Isolate these people and question their motives. If you personally agree with their explanation, then go ahead and continue. If you are one of those sick of the strike, get out and negotiate your own contract with the studio. Guilds are meant to help support your rights and not create conditions where your right to survive is at stake.

If you find the studios won't work with a non-WGA person, then get out of the USA for better pastures in the rest of the world. This is the global age.

The only thing that is making me grin is the fact that the Indian Movie Industry which is the prime competitor to Hollywood in terms of following and number of movies produced annually is gaining ground thanks to writer's strike. However, these idiots are yet to use the Hollywood Writer's strike to make a killing in the world entertainment market.

If the Hollywood writers and actors keep this up, they'll be outsourced and finally we'll have a truly competitive entertainment market.

© 2008 by Deepa Kandaswamy, All rights reserved.