Thursday, June 07, 2007

Creators Want More they should. If you don't think you deserve more money, you're either already a bajillionaire or have low self-esteem.

Variety editor Peter Bart held forth on writers' demands in upcoming contract talks in the Big Trade Paper a few days back:

As a member of the Writers Guild, I received my ominous-looking green "ballot" the other day requesting a "yes" or "no" vote for its "pattern of demands." The Guild is girding for approaching negotiations with the studios and it clearly wants its members to rally around the flag.

Talk to random writers around town, and you come away with the sense that Hollywood scribes have indeed decided what it is they want the most.

They want more.

More money, more control, more of the back-end pie.

Memo to Mr. Bart: that's what every creator wants. More moolah, more creative independence, more and bigger residuals (which I guess comes under the "more moolah" file tab.)

Just last week an animation director said to me: "I just directed a DVD that's making the company big bucks. But I'm not getting any extra money into my pocket."

He didn't say that it wasn't fair. He just said he believed he deserved more. And I agree with him. I think that creators should get a bigger piece of the action. I also don't think companies should be able to own copyrights. Or patents. The actual human creators of that intellectual property should have the sole right of ownership.

Sadly, the United States congress decided otherwise a century ago, and here we are. Until the congress and President reverse their century-old decision, we're stuck. (And I'm not holding my breath for change anytime soon).

If entertainment workers expect more money for the fruits of their labor, they're going to have to acquire more leverage. Peter Bart notes that WGA President Patrick Verrone understands this need for more power and control:

One of Verrone's rallying cries is to gain appropriate participation for writers creating work for the Web, mobile phones and other digital platforms of the future.

And because the future is already upon us, Verrone isn't fretting about whether his fellow scribes are getting a big enough bite of the gross. He's worried whether they'll get paid at all for the use and re-use of their material on emerging platforms.

You've got to 'get real' before you can 'get rich,' Verrone seems to be saying, which surely is the subtext of that ominous-looking green card carrying the "pattern of demands."

You've got that right, Mr. Bart. Everybody in the biz has to "get real." They also have to devise new and effective ways to get more.


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