Monday, December 10, 2007

(Title on Strike)

Update/ Correction-An important correction to Kanrei's original entry is that gaffers, make-up artists, costumers, cameramen etc DO have their own unions - posted by NYC PA Thanks for the correction.

Hello and welcome back to KHWL on the Blogger dial. My name is Kanrei and I am forced to introduce myself today because Ed, the announcer guy has gone on a sympathy strike in support of the Lemmings who still have yet to go over the cliff. I wish I could tell you exactly how long the strike has gone on, but my fact checker has gone on strike in support of my announcer guy. I also will not be taking any calls for a little while because my call screener has gone on strike to support his sisters in the fact checking department, but that one really doesn't hurt all that much considering my caller has gone on strike to show unity with the call screener who is striking to support the fact checking sisterhood (just trying to get laid if you ask me, but you didn't hear that here) who are striking to support the announcer guy who will not introduce me until the Lemmings go over the cliff. And why are the Lemmings striking anyway? I can't tell you that... their reason, it seems, has gone on strike.

Now, on with today's rant.

(Theme music on strike so please hum something catchy here)

Ironically, today's rant has to do with the current writer's strike and why I have slowly begun to switch sides in the fight. I am going to apologize in advance for any offense I may create by defending my newly growing position, but I really am starting not to support the studios per say, but I am having a very hard time supporting the writers.

It is ironic to me that “liberal guilt” is what is driving me to not support the strike, but that seems to be the primary thorn sticking in my paw when I tried to march for the writer's. You see, their quest for a percent or two is literally destroying numerous families at this time of year and, because these people have no union, their stories are going untold.

A show or movie take a tad bit more than a writer, a producer, actors, and a studio to create; read a credit roll some time instead of rushing out to your car sometime and you will see how many people it takes. And these people, these hundreds of low wage earners are now unemployed, or, more correctly, fired for the holiday season. The writer's will not work and the studios cannot afford to pay the masses for nothing.

Looking at it from a more distant view point, what about all those businesses in Los Angeles that these gaffers, make-up artists, assistants, set designers, and such frequent? I am sure these people are eating out quite a bit less considering the strike is now looking endless which means their employment hopes in their chosen field are rather slim right now.

Now for the possible offensive part. I really do not mean to belittle the writers considering I do consider myself one. OK...

While film writers do have a point when it comes to getting a cut from the profits of their work, it is a different story with the “studio pool” writers in my humble opinion. They are hired by the studio to write. What they write is sometimes their choice, but sometimes not. They are performing the task to which they were hired. They were paid for performing said task. Anything more is up to the discretion of their employers. For example:

I wrote the company news letter for where I work. I designed it, did all the research for it, wrote the stories, and published it. That was my job and I was paid to do it, but, when push comes to shove, my boss owns all that I produced. I can include it in a portfolio of my work, but, if he were to sell those articles to some other company, I am not entitled to one cent of it. I would hope I would see something for it and would be hurt if I didn't, but I really am not “entitled” to any of it.

I would really like to hear your perspectives on this. We are all either writers in reality or fantasy and this is an issue that will play into all of our futures if all goes well.

You are listening to KHWL and I can't tell you what time it is right now because my clock has just gone on strike in support of the callers who are showing unity with the call screener who is trying to get laid by the striking fact checker who is supporting my announcer guy who just wants the Lemmings to go over the cliff already.

Whew, that is getting hard to say. Of course, if my readers are on strike then I just babbled to myself. Does that mean I am going insane? Who am I asking?


Charles said...

Looks like you've been Spammed.

I can relate to the writers, the studios will continue to rake in money for the works, from syndication, or reruns or whatever, that puts all the money in their coffers, while eliminating the need for the writers services. Actors get a cut now, but they didn't used to, why not the actual creators? Book writers get residuals. If the gaffers and others really thought that the writers were wrong, do you think they'd be on strike? That's usually an issue voted upon. It's merely a matter of corporate greed, one that should be addressed, which is exactly what is happening. So I don't see new shows, big deal. The corporations do that all the time anyway.

Kanrei said...

Spammed in Spanish no less. Don't I get enough of that here in Miami on a daily basis?

If the gaffers and others really thought that the writers were wrong, do you think they'd be on strike? That's usually an issue voted upon.

The gaffers did not have a say. This was a WGA choice to strike or not. Those who are on the staff of a show are voiceless collateral damage.

Camille Alexa said...

I'm not sure I understand enough about the roles, rights, and responsibilities of Unions in general.

Steve Buchheit said...

Thats fine if the studios paid Work for Hire rates. In that case what the writers produced would belong to the studios. Instead the studios base their pay on "incentivisation" so if the work is good, the writer gets more which leads to pushing the writer to produce good work. It's also a way to pay the writers less out of the gate. Pay full work for hire rates, end the strike. Continue incentive payments, then the writers should stay on strike until they get paid for the whole enchilada of distribution. It's like basing wait staff pay on tips. It's meant to incentivise good service. It's also a way for the restaurant get more workers to work harder while paying them less.

Kanrei said...

Steve confused me a bit. I am not sure if he agrees with me or not.

Steve Buchheit said...

I'm straddling the middle. Sure the strike is starting to hurt. That's actually the purpose of the strike, and why other organizations and people have a vested interest in ending the strike quickly. So one way to end it would be to renegotiate the contract under "Work for Hire Rules" and pay writers enough at the begining of the production area to own the script outright (like studios used to do). However, this costs more and involves more risk to the studio. Or continue the practice of incentive payments (royalties) and pay the writers for everywhere their work is distributed.

Instead the studios are saying to the writers, sure we pay you less, and we base that pay on royalties that you may (or may not) get, but these uses and potential profits over here, you don't deserve anything for them.

Can't have it both ways.

Kanrei said...

I agree 100% when it comes to movie script writers or people like a Tina Fey who wrote, but also created the show. My issue is with the staff writers, the people who are part of a pool and are sent by the studio to write for this show or that. They are doing the job they were paid to do. To expect even more money is, to me, silly. To me, there is not a single group of writers striking and therefore not a single "right or wrong" issue. This is the problem for me because a percent are 100% correct and a percent are 100% wrong and they are fighting together so either we punish those who are right or we reward those who do not deserve it. I am centering instead on the hundreds if not thousands who are not part of the studio or the WGA who are losing their jobs daily. I cannot support a writer wanting 1% more and being willing to send hundreds who get nothing extra to the unemployment lines.

The writers say there would be no show without them, but that is only partially true. Let the writers try to do a show without sets, make-up, costumes, cameras, greeters for the audience, and so on. The writers are being selfish to me. Not all of them mind you, but a good percent.

NYC P.A. said...

An important correction to Kanrei's original entry is that gaffers, make-up artists, costumers, cameramen etc DO have their own unions, hence they cannot show their support by striking along with the writers. However, as someone who does work in film and without a union no less (or did up until four weeks ago when my last job wrapped), trust me, few of us find fault with the writers, and we all know how much money the producers have to pay PR phenoms to try to turn us against our colleagues. Underpaid collateral damage we all may be, but the damage-doers are the producers.

Kanrei said...

Welcome and thank you for adding that. I do not work in the industry and therefore do fall victim to the various spins being put out by the various sides. I do side with the writers somewhat, but I think they have gone too far in their actions personally. I may be wrong and am sure there are hundreds who will proudly tell me I am, but I can't help thinking what I do.

I did not know the gaffers and such had a union and I am wondering why they are remaining silent right now. Do they support the writers and are gladly not working or would they like everyone to settle and get back to work. That photo in the New York Times (see above post) does make me think they are tired of BOTH sides.

Please let me know as much as you can about this. As someone who is actually part of it I would love for you to correct me when I am wrong in the future. Some people take offense at having errors pointed out, but I find it is the only way I learn.