After negotiations fail, Hollywood writers begin strike paralyzing industry
Los Angeles, US, May 2 (EFE).- Shouting “Netflix, no chill, it’s time to pay your bills!”, thousands of writers for TV and film productions on Tuesday took to the streets of Los Angeles and New York City on the first day of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, which will halt the industry indefinitely.
On Monday, the WGA announced the go-ahead of the strike after failing to reach an agreement with studios and streamers under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) for a new, fairer contract.
“It’s very simple. Even El Chapo paid his employees. They want us to work for a long time without paying. They want us to work for very little pay. They want the options but they do not want to guarantee that they will treat us well, and that worries me. In this country, it is easy: if you work hard, you deserve a salary,” Erick Galindo, screenwriter of series and movies such as “Mexican Beverly Hills” (CBS) and “A Laker Life,” told EFE.
At 1 pm local time (20:00 GMT) on Tuesday the organization summoned Hollywood to the picket lines to put pressure on the big studios outside their facilities, with many people gathering at Netflix, Amazon, Paramount, Disney, CBS, Universal, Fox, Sony and others.
“Hollywood is the only place where you do your work and the company makes money from your work for the eternity,” Galindo said.
Although the writers’ strike will gradually affect all sectors of the audiovisual industry, some television programs have been the first to show the effects.
NBC shows such as “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” as well as CBS’ “The Late Show” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” ground to a halt and will begin airing reruns Tuesday, until further notice.
Among the WGA requests is fair payment for “residuals,” the compensation paid for the reuse of a credited writer’s work. To achieve this, the scriptwriters demand more transparency about program views from the streaming platforms.
“Ever since streaming has happened, residual checks have not been invented. So imagine coming up with the TV show like ‘Stranger Things’ and you only get one check no matter how many times you rewatch the episode,” actor and writer Allison Dayne told EFE.
“I don’t know how many times you rewatch it — even though I’ve created those characters for you, I’ll never get paid for that. But they do. That doesn’t make any sense. And that’s the biggest concern.”
Another of the important points that the AMPTP apparently refused to negotiate was about the regulation of artificial intelligence in the production of scripts.
“It’s crazy that they don’t even want to talk about it. We present them some regulations that can be put in place to protect human labor but they don’t want to think about it. They said they don’t want to put restrictions on technology. It’s crazy that they don’t want to put restrictions on technology. There are always restrictions for cars, weapons, we put regulations on everything, why not this?” Galindo asked.
Although they remain positive, the writers agree that one of the biggest concerns is how long a strike like this can last. The last Hollywood writers’ strike in 2007-2008 lasted almost 100 days with huge monetary losses.
“It’s very disrupting to everybody’s lives. Writers don’t like to be out of their little rooms, so everybody being out with all these other people, they’re freaking out, they’re not used to big crowds… It sucks and hopefully it will be resolved soon,” said Gregg Zehentner, writer for “I’m Just F*cking With You” (Hulu).
Others facing hard times for the industry with positivity include Isaac Gómez, staff writer on “Narcos: Mexico” (Netflix), one of the captains of the demonstration.
“The energy has been amazing. We have an incredible turnout of writers across multiple generations, multiple phases of their careers, and we are all here for the same reason, which is to negotiate for the equal pay,” he said.
The pickets will continue the rest of the week, and additional information on the times in which they will take place will be updated on the WGA website. EFE