Monday, December 24, 2007

Have a Yellow Christmas

I was compelled this morning to write about the writers strike going on in Hollywood. A report came out today saying some $350 million have been lost from the local payroll. All due to those poor, starving writers who aren't making enough for their creativity.

I hope this whole thing has been worth it to those striking writers. I should mention, if I haven't done so before, that many other Hollywood unions have not endorsed this strike. The editors guild (for film, not writing) maintains their position against this strike and advises its members to not honor the picket lines.

Striking writers, meanwhile, have voluntarily walked off the job, forcing thousands of working individuals —— many with families to feed, vacations to pay for, weddings and honeymoons to fund, car payments to make, mortgages to keep up —— to go without a paycheck.

Did these unfortunate bystanders —— from production folks to dry cleaners to janitors to craft services to technicians to actors —— have time to prepare for this strike? Probably not. I mean, how do you prepare for unemployment?

I'm still on the fence how I professionally feel about this strike. Personally, I'm appalled. Professionally, I know how the studios will take advantage of any and all loopholes to not pay people for using their content or talent. They've done this throughout history, and will do it forever more. Give them a way to make free money, ala DVDs and home video, and they will take full advantage of it, all the while saying that these media are experimental.

On the other side, I don't think most screenwriters own their material. If you work for a TV show, you obviously are just a minor player in the process. If you're the creator of the show, you already have your stipulations written in the contract. If you adapt a novel into a film, you don't own it, nor does the director. You're just a partner in something that an author originated.

I don't care how big the actors, director, producer, screenwriter are for the movie, Atonement, the author of the novel is the owner of this story. Ownership stops, however, if the novel inspires a movie, a song, another novel. That sucks, but that's also how it goes.

I'm still not sure how actors will benefit from supporting this strike. Actors are merely pawns, in my opinion. Unfortunately, actors are also lousy at writing and most have owned up to this fact. Many more, however, will continue to tap away at their computers in denial. Many of my close actor friends have tried to write scripts —— and they all suck.

I went to a party at my assistant director friend's house last weekend. He had some noticeably unfestive individuals in attendance there: PAs, makeup artists, actors (well, they acted festive), producers. The consensus? They don't seem to like having their fates decided for them by a small group of people. And they miss their work, because working in entertainment was something they wanted to pursue.

Basically, they're all having a piss-colored Christmas this year. And that just stinks.

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