As the sun goes down over Sunset Boulevard, you can hear dreams crashing like bumpercar BMWs, as if driven by writers off their meds. It’s a sad day in the city of Tinsel, as scribes wander the streets wailing for residuals. The WGA has voted, will it be much ado about nothing or the final strike-out?
While those of us who have written, but not been bought, stand back and contemplate. Can we now get a shot at the big time? Don’t hold your breath, I’m not. We live in the land of litigation. Look at me wrong and I’ll sue you down the river of debt.
No, there will be few scabs, even if the writers have to get out of their cars and walk the picket lines. If they’re smart they’ll get a rent-a-picket, someone who actually can be physically intimidating to a line-crosser. How far will they have to travel to stop writers who can work off-scene, away from LA, somewhere across the digital divide?
A while back, I presented a screenplay logline to a couple of hundred writers during a seminar held at a major studio. It was about outsourcing jobs around the world. The Important Hollywood Scribe/Director/Producer in charge of the seminar had a simple critique for my screenplay. He didn’t know what the word ‘outsourcing’ meant! Therefore, my screenplay wouldn't sell. The Hollywood crowd and the WGA will get to find out what the rest of American society has known for years. It’s outsourcing time in the city!
The easy way out for producers and studios alike will be to go East and head North. Bollywood might not have the same cultural excesses as it’s namesake, but the producers will just write in the extra sex, drugs and gratuitous violence. Then there are our neighbors to the north. Vancouver will be glad to shoot more movies, TV shows and documentaries for those in need. Montreal can give it a leetle French flair, mon ami. Did I mention all those studios in China? We love our globalization.
Don’t hold your breath WGA. This might be the start of something big. After all, one of Hollywood’s own started all of this, back when he broke up the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO). You might remember him, he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild, before he took up residence in the big, white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Which led to fuzzy math economics. Kinda like those figures you hear concerning residuals, new media, digital revenue, etc. It could be a ‘trickle down’ type of contract. Moguls, keep your genitalia away from that zipper!
I better check my passport. Can the WGA sue me if I work as a writer in China and get paid through a bank in Switzerland, while claiming residence in Australia?