Last June we told you that Hollywood was preparing for the strike. Not for one, but for three potential strikes: by writers —whose collective contract expired on November 1st—, by directors and actors, whose contracts expire on June 30 of next year.

The big studios were rushing their schedules and emphasizing buying finished scripts, rather than commissioning projects. The shooting of many films had been brought forward, such as the new version of Tuesday the 13th, or the pre-production of La Reina del Sur.

Hollywood writers on strike

Today, at 12:01 am, the first began, called by the writers’ union The Writers Guild of America. As their tagline indicates, this is a drop pencil strike. During the day, pickets will begin to be posted at the doors of the big US studios, TV networks and production companies, mainly on the East and West coasts. Although the union’s 12,000 members are expected to join the strike, there are also writers who are not happy about joining a picket line.

This is how one writer explained it to Variety:

This is a potential relationship killer and it is a union outburst to force me to picket those who have done so much for my career.

But not only the piqueteros writers will be in difficult situations. Perhaps it will be those who fulfill the double role of writers and producers, writers and directors or writers and actors, who will find it more bitter, since the union has asked them not to play either role.

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Television will be the most affected, given that the vast majority of the products that are broadcast are programs that require a script —scripts that are rewritten over and over again before and during filming: from serials to TV movies, going through the successful night shows of varieties, such as David Letterman or Jay Leno. But although the studies have taken forecasts and the effects of this strike will have a greater impact on television, it is precisely this that will affect the film industry the most. Because, many wonder, without Leno, or Letterman and his peers, where will the new movies be advertised?

According to Varietythis will force studios to invest more in traditional promotional methods.

On the other hand, speaking of the relations between the film industry and TV: will the scripts for the next edition of the Oscars be ready, in case the strike lasts for long months, as happened in 1988?

The residual profits have been the blocking stone in the conversations between the AMPTP (the organization that brings together the big studios and producers) and the WGA. Residual profits are those profits generated when your works are shown again on TV or distributed on DVD. According to screenwriter John August, those quarterly checks are what pay off the mortgages and keep writers afloat, financially speaking.

Hollywood writers on strike

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First, the writers union asks to increase the profit received from DVD sales, a rate established two decades ago that has little or nothing to do with the current situation, in which DVD has become the most popular format on distribution and display.

Second, taking the case of DVD as an example, the writers seek to establish profit rates for Internet downloads—anticipating that this type of distribution will eventually supplant DVD—and other types of electronic exhibition. The AMPTP alleges that electronic distribution is still in its infancy and is strictly for promotional purposes only.

Many, like our colleague Antonio Toca, see the strike as a unique opportunity to try another type of cinema. In fact, it is American independent cinema that can perhaps get the most out of this situation.

The fact is that the unionized writers have gone on strike, although, after seeing things like 300 or Transformers, more than one will ask the same question:

…And they weren’t already?

Via | Variety | The Hollywood Reporter | Indie Wire | John August Blog

Hollywood writers on strike