why the writer’s strike matters

IGN has a compelling interview with Ron Moore about the writer’s strike and how it affects BSG. It’s an eye-opening piece, to me at least. Suddenly it’s very clear why this is such an important issue for writers:

“I had a situation last year on Battlestar Galactica where we were asked by Universal to do webisodes [Note: Moore is referring to The Resistance webisodes which ran before Season 3 premiered], which at that point were very new and ‘Oooh, webisodes! What does that mean?’ It was all very new stuff. And it was very eye opening, because the studio’s position was ‘Oh, we’re not going to pay anybody to do this. You have to do this, because you work on the show. And we’re not going to pay you to write it. We’re not going to pay the director, and we’re not going to pay the actors.’ At which point we said ‘No thanks, we won’t do it.’”

“We got in this long, protracted thing and eventually they agreed to pay everybody involved. But then, as we got deeper into it, they said ‘But we’re not going to put any credits on it. You’re not going to be credited for this work. And we can use it later, in any fashion that we want.’ At which point I said ‘Well, then we’re done and I’m not going to deliver the webisodes to you.’ And they came and they took them out of the editing room anyway — which they have every right to do. They own the material — But it was that experience that really showed me that that’s what this is all about. If there’s not an agreement with the studios about the internet, that specifically says ‘This is covered material, you have to pay us a formula – whatever that formula turns out to be – for use of the material and how it’s all done,’ the studios will simply rape and pillage.”

There’s a lot more along those lines, so be sure to read the whole article if you get a chance. Moore makes an excellent point: TV is rapidly moving toward being just another Internet service. The studios are trying their best to get paid for Internet distribution, while trying even harder not to pay anyone down the line for it.

2 thoughts on “why the writer’s strike matters

  1. I foresee a shift in writing/producing in general, as countless people have proven that you don’t need a $10 Million dollar budget to put out something entertaining……Hulu will cater to you and me, featuring shows from our youth, but younger web users are so different then we ever were, their needs for entertainment aren’t being met by television today, that’s why they spend more time online than they do in front of a tv….television will continue to entertain us, but you need something tailored to younger folks, and television writers dont quite grasp what it takes to entertain that demo, they are too old, too out of touch (I know, some of them are only like 26)…..in my opinion, studios should hire young crack-teams to write & produce web-only content to appeal to the younger crowd, while still spitting out the “normal” content that us old men are used to……..they still need to cough up the dough for the folks who helped make the content currently online, but from here on out, that would be my suggestion

  2. Sadly, this seems to me to be another case where large corporations or organizations are unfairly reaping the benefits of others’ work, not unlike what happens in most businesses (with the justification of the bottom line for shareholders). The web/tv distinction is the only real novelty, and the middle-class status (I assume) of most writers.

    There’s also a great youtube video of a not-the-daily-show take on the whole thing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzRHlpEmr0w.

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