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Film News Roundup: Writers Guild Warns Members on Non-Union Virtual Reality Projects

In today’s film news roundup, the WGA West warns members about non-union virtual reality projects, Screen Media Ventures is acquired, and “Beverly Hills Lizard People” gets a director.

WGA WARNING

The Writers Guild of America West has notified members that they cannot work on virtual reality projects unless they’re covered by the guild.

In an email sent to members Monday, the guild said members could face disciplinary action if they work on non-union projects.

“As Virtual Reality technology and platforms continue to develop, so do potential writing opportunities for WGA members,” the WGA West said. “It is important for you to remember, and to remind your representatives, that literary material written for virtual reality programs (VR) is covered by the new media side letter in the MBA. If you are hired to write VR content, whether original or derivative (including any promotional virtual reality project you work on while staffed on a show), you must confirm that the company employing you is a WGA signatory and that your work is covered by a WGA agreement or you will be in violation of Working Rule 8.”

A WGA spokesman said the missive was sent as a reminder to members. “VR programming continues to develop, and the note reminds writers that it is covered work,” he added.

The side letter covering virtual reality work went into effect in 2008. The WGA West has about 9,000 members.

ACQUISITION

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment has acquired Screen Media Ventures, an independent distributor of motion pictures to the worldwide television market, for an undisclosed price.

The acquisition includes the Screen Media Ventures content library of television series and feature films and Popcornflix, a direct-to-consumer online video platform with the rights to more than 3,000 films and 60 television series.

Chicken Soup said the acquisition significantly enhances the value of its portfolio of assets, as well as its capacity to drive revenue and profit growth.

DIRECTOR HIRED

Cthulhu Crush Productions has hired filmmaker Lisa Ovies to direct horror-comedy “Beverly Hills Lizard People,” Variety has learned exclusively.

Written by Cthulu Crush’s Jody Wheeler, “Beverly Hills Lizard People” is described as a mix of “Slither” and “Scream,” and tells of an ancient race of shape-shifting Lizard People from the depths of the Earth who return to the surface to reclaim what was once theirs: Beverly Hills.

Wheeler and Steve Parker produce for Cthulhu Crush Productions alongside I No.Films. Ovies’ credits include “Puppet Killer” and “Taking My Parents to Burning Man,” which won audience awards at the Sonoma International Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Maui Film Festival.

The deal was announced at the American Film Market. Ovies is represented by Moving Pictures Talent & Entertainment Group.

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