The leaders of the Writers Guild of America have started laying the groundwork for writer members to operate without agents.
The WGA notified members Monday that its joint WGA East and WGA West Staffing Submission System has gone live. The notification came a day after after the WGA announced that its members had voted overwhelmingly to support tightened restrictions on their agents, including elimination of agencies receiving packaging fees and having ownership interest in affiliate production companies.
Unless the WGA and agents can hammer out a negotiated compromise this week, the Code of Conduct will be imposed on April 7, following expiration of the current franchise agreement. It will require WGA members to fire agents who have not signed on to the code.
The new system is coming online as television staffing season starts ramping up, the guild noted.
“While no technological solution could fully replace the many functions of a good agent, we believe this system – which lets writers submit their work directly to showrunners who are looking for writers for TV staffs – can help provide our members with continuing access to job opportunities if we have to walk away from non-franchised agencies,” the message began.
“As helpful as we think this new system will be, we urge you to remember: staffing season is just getting started. Many shows are already accepting submissions, but more will be added in the coming days and weeks as pilots and returning shows get pickups and as showrunners continue to register. At present, the system allows current members to make up to three submissions.”
The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents have held seven negotiating sessions and achieved only marginal progress so far, with no new negotiations yet scheduled.
“We continue to work toward a negotiated agreement with the Association of Talent Agents,” the WGA concluded. “However, if we are unable to reach an agreement with the ATA by the April 6th expiration date, this system will be here for you when you need it.”
The WGA has asserted that managers and lawyers can take the place of agents in procuring work for guild members — even though California law prohibits anyone from performing as an agent without a license.
Here’s the instructional WGA Staffing Submission System video that was posted Monday: