As of 12:01 am yesterday, our entire writing staff is on strike. That means that the pencils went down and there won't be any more scripts until our guild, the WGA, receives a fair deal from the studios and networks. The biggest sticking point is residuals on the internet and new media. Residuals are the amount a writer gets paid every time an episode or movie they wrote is rebroadcast. Right now there is no formula in place for internet downloads. So any episode of any show that you download on iTunes or other such services, or watch for free at one of the network's ad-supported websites, the writer gets nothing. I think we can all agree that is unfair.
Screenwriting isn't like other professions. There is no guarantee of employment week to week or year to year. It is a feast or famine business, and when the music stops, you may not still have a chair. As a film school teacher once described it -- you can't make a living, but you can make a killing. It is those times when you are working that you have to plan for the future, because it doesn't last forever. Miles and I have been writing together for 15 years now. Each year I wonder if this is when it all comes crashing down.
I know that if most people have even heard of a screen or television writer, it is usually someone high profile and rich. However, the majority of writers in our guild are middle class. They live paycheck to paycheck. Residuals are what get you through the lean times, so that you can continue doing what you love for as long as you can, and still support your family.
Please understand that no writer wanted a strike, but the issues we are fighting for will determine not only our future in the digital age, but the future of generations of writers to come. If we don't take a stand now, that future will look pretty bleak.
We were able to complete scripts for 15 episodes. Episode 15 is a cliffhanger. To the best of my knowledge, the studio plans to produce all of them. If there isn't a quick resolution, then the season ends in February. It is our wish that this strike will be resolved quickly so that we can get back to doing what we love -- writing.
From the entire writing staff, thank you for your continued support.
Up, up and away!
Al Gough & Miles Millar
15 episodes is better than I expected but we want our full season 7! Let's hope this gets resolved and quickly.