Saturday, August 2, 2008

Scott Frank

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to turn over this space on occasion to other writers with important Guild experience, to share their thoughts about where we stand.

First up is Scott Frank. You probably know him as one of the top screenwriters working today, and may also recall that he served on the WGA Board of Directors from 2005-07, elected as part of the original Writers United slate.

Scott has some strong opinions about our approach the last few years, and what we need to do to be more effective at the negotiating table going forward.

Here’s Scott:

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The economics of our business are changing rapidly. But make no mistake: it is a BUSINESS. Going forward, we need to approach future negotiations as, well... negotiations. We are grown ups, fighting for a piece of an economic pie that is evolving as we go. We can only guess at trends. Every month, some new hotspot appears in the world of New Media. If we are to truly secure our place in that world, we have to start thinking creatively. Agitating will not win writers respect. Negotiating will.

Our leadership for years has claimed that the guild had gotten too "cozy" with the CEO's. That we needed to fight them from the outside. Yet, in the end, the only way we were able to make a deal was to sit down in the same room with these same CEOs.

Unity is a great thing, but the fight is not an emotional one, it's an economic one. We need to approach our future with a pragmatic eye. The world is changing. The economy is changing.

Are the corporations "greedy?" Sure. That's what corporations are. They are not people. They are money-making entities responsible for making as much money as possible for their shareholders. Does this make them evil? I don't think so. We just need to show them that it's in their best FINANCIAL interest to make us their partners going forward. They are as scared as we are about the future. That only makes them tougher to deal with.

Standing outside their offices and making fun of them won't get us a better contract. Working with them and ALL of the other guilds to better understand the future will. Working with them and ALL of the other guilds to set a better table for the next negotiation certainly will.

Howard Michael Gould understands all that. He cares about our future, knows that we'll have to fight for it, but understands that our fight, like our business, is collaborative.