Arizona-based screenwriter speaks out on writer's strike in Hollywood
PHOENIX - Phoenix is rather far away from Hollywood, but that does not mean people in the Valley are not affected by the Writers Guild of America strike.
According to the Associated Press, this is the first Hollywood strike of any kind in 15 years. Streaming and its ripple effects are at the center of the dispute, with guild officials saying that even as series budgets have increased, writers’ share of that money has consistently shrunk.
Streaming services' use of smaller staffs — known in the industry as "mini rooms" — for shorter stints has made sustained income harder to come by, the guild says. And the number of writers working at guild minimums has gone from about a third to about half in the past decade. Writers of comedy-variety shows for streaming have no minimum protections at all, the guild says.
The lack of a regular seasonal calendar in streaming has depressed pay further, according to a report issued by WGA officials. In addition, scheduled annual pay bumps under the current contract have fallen well short of increases in inflation.
On May 1, officials with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents Hollywood’s studios, streamers and production companies, say they offered "generous increases in compensation for writers as well as improvements in streaming residuals" and would improve its offer, but couldn't due to the multitude of demands by the writers.
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Phoenix screenwriter voted to strike
According to an estimate by the Phoenix Screenwriters Association, hundreds of screenwriters, if not thousands, live in the Phoenix area, and work remotely on movies and other shows.
Chris Lamont is one of those screenwriters. He, along with his writing partner in Los Angeles, wrote a number of movies in the past four years. Lamont voted for the strike, despite having irons in the fire.
"We've got a script that's ready to go out to studios as soon as we finish the rewrite, and we're not doing it. We've got another script ready to go out to the talent, and that's just sitting there on a desk," said Lamont.
Lamont has written a book about comedy films, and he also teaches film at Arizona State University. He said screenwriting is his passion, and he can do it from afar, as technology allows. However, he also says technology is a double-edged sword.
"Recently, we did a pitch to all the studios all through Zoom. Paramount, Universal, all through the computer, which is great, but at the end of the day, technology is going to be hindering us because of the streaming, because of AI," said Lamont.
Lamont says wants to see changes for himself and for the film students hes teaching.... Fighting for what's fair in a business shifting rapidly because of streaming platforms.
"We're doing it because we want to maintain a quality of life, to get health insurance, to get a pension," said Lamont. "This isnt anything crazy. Were not making $50 million like the studio heads are. We just want what's fair for us."