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 Message
    From: "jmsatb5@aol.com" <jmsatb5@aol.com>
 Subject: Re: WGA Strike 90%+ vote to strike
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 10/21/2007 9:16:02 PM  

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(6 messages)

Assuming you're actually interested in a conversation rather than
staking out territory....

On Oct 21, 4:19 pm, "Lance Corporal \"Hammer\" Schultz"
<starf...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Book and movies are very different. Books don't involve talent from
> hundreds or thousands of creators.
>

This is not a true statement. Books involve publishers, editors,
assistant editors, proofreaders, typesetters, publicists, art
directors, photographers, and a host of others, all of whom in their
way "create" the book being purchased.

And in TV/film, the actors and directors who create the work are also
able to participate in the same kind of royalty as a book writer.

> I'm all for royalties -- I earn them myself. But the studio is the
> entity taking on the risk of a project not achieving profitability.

Also not true. A writer can invest years into a project and his whole
livelihood is based on how that project goes. Studios front dozens of
projects each year, and can write off the losses on one project
against the profits on another. They do not take all of the risk.

> I wonder how many writers are willing to share the investment
> consequences of a failed project with the studio?

But this is what residuals and royalties ARE. They are deferred
compensation that only kicks in if the show succeeds. In other words,
the writer IS sharing the risk. If the show succeeds, then by
residuals they share in the profit. If the show tanks, then the time
they spent working on it dead-ends with no further compensation.

> Keep in mind that the studio has to show profit and loss to
> shareholders, and people go to jail if they lie about those things
> now. If they're reporting profit on a movie to shareholders and a
> loss to you as a writer, then they should be taken to court.
>

You're talking apples and oranges. There's the profit a studio makes
on a project in toto, and what it makes on the books for the writers.
When you sign a deal for a share of the profits, all but a very few
writers get a piece of the net...but the formula used in determining
what that net is, in other ways what point the project achieves
profitability, can be worked to show no profit *for purposes of that
deal*.

I have a share of the net profits of B5. But by the terms of the deal
that was made, WB takes 60% of all monies in overhead, and can charge
almost anything they want against profits. If a stage used on some
other WB project being shot in Bolivia burns down, they can charge it
against B5. Consequently, B5 has never shown a profit even though
it's made half a billion dollars just in DVD sales, leavinng out
foreign sales, syndication, merchandising and so on.

And yes, individual writers can sue the studios, and never work
again. That's why you need someone who can bargain collectively.

But residuals aren't based on net profit, they're based on a formula
that says you get x-percent of the original fee for the first x-number
of runs, then it drops for the next x-number of runs, then eventually
it runs out altogether. The studios have been saying they want to
reduce or eliminate residuals. That can't stand.

> If the WGA succeeds in forcing studios to pay more than they think
> writing is worth, or force the studios to take on even more risk
> during investment than they already do, then the end result is
> predictable: fewer and fewer executives will be will to take chances
> on projects they don't *know* will turn profit. In the end, this will
> make Hollywood even more formulaic and boring.
>

Also not correct. Studios must turn out x-number of films per year,
and x-number of TV shows per year, to continue their revenue stream.
And the amount of money being paid to writers is ridiculously small by
comparison to what's paid to actors and directors. Nobody is asking
for big increases in writers fees, only to *not* have them
*decreased*. It's quite literally small change by comparison.

Top-level A writers can earn as much as 500K-1M on a script (and there
are only about a hundred writers who fit that category). Actors can
make up to ten million per movie, plus a piece of the gross, and many
directors get deals in the middle fo that. Even if you doubled what's
paid to writers, it would have no significant effect on the output.

jms

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