Not a Good Time to be a Screenwriter: WGAComplications Ensue
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

According to a recent WGA survey:

– One-in-four screenwriters reported leaving prepared materials behind as part of their pitch

– Three-quarters were asked to revise those pitch materials for the major studios, while requests at the smaller studios happened half of the time

– Producers were more likely to ask for revisions, but three-in-ten reported major studio representatives requested revisions to pitch materials

– A majority were asked by the major studios to work before being paid for commencement

– Most screenwriters received only 1 or 2 guaranteed steps in their deals from the studios

– Optional steps were common in these deals

– Nearly two-thirds say the major studios and over half say the smaller studios never exercised any optional steps in their deals

– Almost half were asked to do uncompensated rewrites at a major studio, with four-in-ten saying the studio representative made the request

– Smaller studios were somewhat less likely to ask for uncompensated rewrites, but a greater share of the requests came from studio representatives

– A majority of those working at major studios did the uncompensated rewrites because they felt it necessary to keep their current job or get hired in the future

– Nearly a quarter believe they were paid late by the major studios in 2011

I think most screenwriters will continue to work on a draft till they feel they've brought it to a certain point. Where it gets sticky is when your contract calls for, say, two drafts, and the client wants to call your second draft a "first draft revised." In that situation, you might never get paid for the second draft. I usually insist on getting paid for all my drafts before I start with the free polishes.



I just watched a trailor for a movie that is similar to a short film I'm about to start. Should I still make it? I'm actually encouraged by the fact that I had an idea that someone else had, and that it was good enough for a feature. So I want to press on, but I'm wondering if it would be worth it, especially if people can look at it and say "that's just like so and so." I had no real plans for this becoming a feature, but the response I got from my readings were so positive I pushed it to the front of my project list. What do you think? Shelve it and work on something else, or say "to hell with it, I'm going with my idea!"

By Blogger Jon Maynard, at 9:41 PM  

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