Zoanne Clack, Greg Iwinski and Julie Plec sat down with fellow writer Beau Willimon for an ATX Television Festival panel to discuss this year’s writers’ strike and how it’s different from previous ones.
“At the time, we were nervous about what lay ahead,” said Plec, who created Vampire Diaries and its spin-offs The originals And legacies. “We were concerned about what we saw coming in the pipeline. There was something elusive about that concern (which turned out to be) quite prescient and ultimately catastrophically accurate.
This time, Plec explained that writers stand out because they’re upset and then took a moment to point out that she’s been reaping the rewards of a successful career, so she’s speaking on behalf of people who have helped her get to this point in her career. to come. .
“I am speaking on behalf or in the spirit of the people who have struck in the past to give us the benefits we have today, the people who are striking today just to make a living and the people we are striking for, those are the mes and the wes of the next generations,” she continued. “We are angry.”
She also pointed out that she has friends who have worked as writers in the industry for 15 years and are currently unemployed or taking jobs for up to 60 percent less pay.
Iwinski, known for his work on The Late Show And Last week tonightbegan the panel by explaining what is at stake for members of the Writers Guild of America and why they chose to strike.
“You can be someone who writes for a hit TV show and makes $80,000 a year and has to be on food stamps, even though your show gets nominated for awards that the studio likes to take credit for,” the WGA East member said. who sits on the negotiating committee. “So we came and presented our case for solutions for that system.”
He pointed out that one of the things that makes him particularly proud to be a part of the guild is that they’re a member-based organization, so they haven’t tried to hold a focus group or ask a management company what they should are. ask for. They went straight to their 11,000 members.
“We got back 7,000 surveys saying their wages had been destroyed,” Iwinski said, “that screenwriters had been asked to do rewrite after rewrite of free work.”
Clack, who is a longtime writer and producer Gray’s Anatomyexplained that it’s now increasingly common for creators to be expected to write all episodes of shorter series, which is why they’re fighting for full-fledged writers’ rooms.
“One big reason, I think, is if we don’t have enough people investing in our health care system, in our retirement plan, that’s going to go away,” she said. “We need to have people working on buying that in so we can keep that flush for our future. And the other reason is just to let people learn and show people the fruits of their labor and not just be some kind of one-time workers.
One issue that has come up a lot in contract negotiations for the WGA is the use of artificial intelligence in script writing, with Plec noting that this is becoming the face of the villain. “If we don’t get something in the language that a human being needs to do our job, we’ll never get it and we’ll never get protection,” she said.
And while Iwinski would never ask consumers to opt out of the platforms they get their television and movies from, he pointed out that customers can tell those companies that they don’t agree with what’s happening.
He said, “To continue this wave of public opinion that says, ‘We love the people who make our stuff more than the people who pay for our stuff, that’s important.’