The WGA West board of directors issued a message Tuesday to the 10,000 WGA West members. The guild shares jurisdiction on animation writing with the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which covers feature animated work at terms that aren’t as sweet as the WGA’s. Disney animated titles are produced without any union writing contract
“Social distancing has halted nearly all live-action production in our industry,” the board said in a statement. “However, many animated programs have continued production with crews working remotely from home. As a result, we have heard from members that studios and producers are increasingly interested in developing animated projects. This is an important moment to remind you that the WGA can and does cover writing for animation. If a producer tells you, ‘The Writers Guild doesn’t cover animation,’ that is simply not true.”
The WGA gained a major foothold in animation with coverage of “The Simpsons.” The issue of jurisdiction over animation writing was part of the bitter 2007-2008 strike by the WGA against the studios. The demand was resisted by the studios and IATSE. Guild negotiators took the demand off the table before the 100-day work stoppage was settled.
“Many prominent animated television shows — on broadcast (‘Bob’s Burgers,’ ‘Family Guy,’ ‘The Simpsons’) cable (‘American Dad’) and streaming (‘BoJack Horseman,’ ‘Big Mouth,’ ‘Disenchantment,’ ‘F is for Family’) — are covered by WGA contracts,” the board’s statement continued. “In fact, our Contracts Department recently negotiated deals to cover new animated series for Netflix (Q-Force, Hoops), Amazon (Undone), Apple TV+ (Central Park) and HBO Max (The Prince). The WGA also covers animated feature projects, including soon to be released ‘Wendall & Wild’ for Netflix and ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ for Paramount.”
The guild concluded, “When opening negotiations to write an animated project, you and your representatives should take the stance that your work will be covered by the WGA. A WGA contract will ensure you have residuals, script fees, credit protections, and contributions to the WGA pension & health funds, more important now than ever. The protections and benefits in a Writers Guild contract provide an important financial cushion in a career that can be unpredictable during even the best of times. To make sure you get the support you need to cover your animated project, please contact WGAW Member Organizing or Contracts.”