1. Residual Pay
You may recall that Squid Game was estimated to have generated $900 million in revenue for Netflix. And when one interviewer mentioned this to Hwang Dong-Hyuk, the writer/creator of the groundbreaking series, he simply shrugged his shoulders, because that had no affect on his finances, since there was no performance related clause (which is usually where residual pay comes in). This has been the standard practice in the streaming world, which is grossly unfair to the writers and creatives who make these hit series and movies.
That's why the WGA is trying to change this. But it would require that streamers be transparent about viewership numbers, which they have always been very tight-lipped about. And in my experience, when a company is avoiding transparency, it means they're hiding something fishy and playing a game of how greedy can I be?
To give you a brief background, film and TV writers (and other creatives) are typically entitled to "residual pay" based on the film/TV sales. Specifics depend on the contract, but this is in part in exchange for giving up their copyright to the written work as well as to reward them for good performances. Because why shouldn't writers participate in the success of their features and series, when without them there would be no success?
Don't worry though, I'm not saying that businesses should pay copywriters residuals (though in certain cases it may make sense to work out some kind of back end arrangement). But the reason this is worth thinking about as business owners, is the transparency aspect.
I believe that as we grow, we should bring up those around us and ensure everyone is growing, too, because otherwise we are ultimately capping our own growth or at least our quality of product/service. And as I often say, transparency builds trust and loyalty. It makes people feel like they're really part of building something great. And when people feel part of the machine, they give more of themselves to that machine.
Something to note: I've seen residuals used as a bargaining tool. Like, "We can't pay you that much now, but we'll give you residuals." This is fine in some situations, and when it's a genuine negotiation. But I'm not always a fan of this method, because I've seen it used to take advantage of others. It's like when you negotiate your salary and your boss uses "bonuses" as a way to get you to what you're really worth. Bonuses should be bonuses. But what really gets me is when residuals are used to make the terms seem better, but in reality there likely will not be any residuals paid out, because the threshold to receive residuals aren't met and it's known that those thresholds won't be met.
So don't be one of those people who try to make it seem like you're looking out for others when really you're just taking advantage of them.
2. Concerns about AI
Per Deadline, "The WGA wanted to regulate the use of AI and wanted assurance that it could not be used to write or rewrite literary material, nor could it be used as source material. The AMPTP (The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) rejected the guild’s proposals, countering by offering annual meetings to discuss advancements in technology, the WGA said."
This suggests that the companies who are part of AMPTP could move towards eventually replacing writers with AI.
If you subscribe to my email list, then you know how I feel about AI. AI can be a great tool, but it CANNOT replace human writing. We write and tell stories to create empathy, to create human connection. AI cannot do that. When it comes to your business - your marketing and communications - without empathy, you will not be able to achieve meaningful impact. Without genuine human connection, you won't be able to build a lasting brand.
3. Listen to those who know what they're doing.
As I read what were some of the AMPTP's responses to the WGA's asks, I was reminded of something I've observed in the entertainment industry. That is, that sometimes those who control the purse strings don't actually know how their product is made. Meaning, decision makers don't actually know what it takes to make a movie/series, or what it takes to write a movie/series.
The thing is, you don't have to be an expert in everything. It's not realistic, anyhow. But remember what you're good at and what your expertise is, then hire, value, and listen to those who round you out and make you better.
4. Writers are not cheap and disposable labor
There are no films nor TV shows without writers. So objectively speaking, in the entertainment industries (music included), writers should be the most valued assets to any project.
But I've seen across industries many people think of writers as the bottom of the totem pole and as disposable. As a writer, I'm obviously offended and take a strong stance against this way of thinking. But I've also sat on the other side of the table, and I know that if you don't take care of the people who allow you to be great, then you won't be great. You will be mediocre, and you will only produce mediocre products.
You'll also be an abuser taking advantage of those with less negotiating power and those who are simply hungry and hustling for their dream.
And that's why the Writer's Strike is so important. Without writers, these big corporations don't have a product. But we the "little" people, are taking a stance together against the big deep pockets who get richer while they continuously try to pay us less and diminish our worth.
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