Writers Guild of America leaders are seeking a wide variety of improvements to script fees and health plan contributions for writers as the guild holds master contract negotiations with studios.
“Whether writing theatrical tentpoles, features for streamers, or indie passion projects, taken together these proposals would ensure screenwriters secure gains and protections they need and deserve in our ever-evolving feature film business,” the WGA negotiating committee said.
Representatives for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the WGA are facing a June 30 expiration of the current film and TV contract. Talks began last week on a remote basis due to the coronavirus pandemic after two start dates were vacated.
The committee sent out the latest message to members on Tuesday after sending out three messages last week in order to replace the information it would have given out at in-person member meetings. The group is also proposing improvements on minimums, feature teams, compensation for repeated pitches, and the first-ever foreign box office residuals.
“We want to substantially raise feature minimums, in large part to protect those who may not yet have the clout to earn above-scale fees,” the letter said. “We’re seeing the convergence of longform programs and theatrical films made for streaming (SVOD). We need feature minimums to apply to all feature-length SVOD projects, whether they are contracted as made-for-SVOD or as a feature.”
The WGA is also seeking an increase in the cap for employer contributions to the health fund and pension plan contributions for writers who are working on teams of two or three, along with individual writers. It’s also proposing that if writers are asked for a second meeting to work on a pitch, a guaranteed payment would be triggered.
The WGA is demanding that for screenwriters earning less than 200% of minimum, a second step should be guaranteed and that writers be given the choice of being paid on a weekly pro-rated basis instead of two lump sums.
The WGA said the first-ever residuals for the foreign box office are overdue, noting the writers already receive such payments when their work appears on international TV.
“When residuals for feature films were first negotiated in 1960, the foreign box office was minuscule,” the negotiating committee said. “Today, the foreign box office is three-quarters of the worldwide total. It’s long past time for screenwriters to share in the generated revenue and receive a foreign box office residual, just as writers do with foreign television.”