NO POINT IN AUSTRALIAN WRITERS EVER GOING ON STRIKE
US writers have been treated like crap ever since legendary studio boss Jack Warner called them “schmucks with typewriters.”
“If you’re just a film writer in Hollywood,” he said. “There’s very little status.”
Warner also knew that when it came to writers, a little bit of money went a long way. So he and the other studio heads decided to allocate around 2 percent of any production budget to the writing of it.
And it’s a model that’s stood the test of time. Hollywood bosses still pay around two percent of the budget of any production to the people who dream up the stories and characters, despite those stories and characters earning them astronomical profits. Writers Guild of America representatives say that David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros Discovery, was paid $250m last year - about the same as what 10,000 writers are asking to be paid collectively.
But even if the WGA’s industrial action has a successful outcome for its members - nothing will hide the fact that the screenwriting trade in the US has become way less lucrative.
Thanks to streaming models, the 24 episode seasons that once kept writers employed for a whole year are almost extinct. These days, most seasons of shows run from eight to 10 episodes, which is about 14 weeks work for writers. And when that gig finishes, they need to find another to fill out their year. But here’s the thing, landing a single writing gig on a US show is like being drafted to the NFL. So landing two or more in a year is breathing rarefied air.
Still, I’m envious they live in a country that sees screenwriting as an actual job. If you say you’re a screenwriter in Australia, it’s often met with a furrowed brow. I once went to see a psychologist about an issue I was having at work. At the start of the session, he asked me what I did. I said I was a screenwriter. The psychologist, who had gone to a posh university for four whole years, then said: “So you’re telling me the actors don’t come up with the lines themselves?”
Yeah, no point in Australian writers ever going on strike.