Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Cut Price Writer

Following on from my musings on the writers lack of power. Here's an interesting little tidbit that came to me the other day. Apparently a 'well known' PACT member recently paid a writer £4500 for an hour of Prime Time drama on a Network series.

Just over HALF the WG minimum. And what's worse- the writer actually accepted it.

Assuming this is true, and it came from a very good source, why did this PACT member do this? Because they can.

Why did the writer accept it? I'm assuming because he was desperate for a credit , any credit at whatever price.

Do some prodco's play on this? Definitely.

Is it likely to raise the bar on writing standards? I doubt it. The series was shite by the way.

Would you do it?

I'm guessing if you're an unrepped uncredited writer, you'd bite their hand off. But without a word of a lie, if this story proves to stand up 100% then no way on God's green earth will I EVER again touch that prodco with a bargepole. And no way will any other established writer.

It's not just that they have apparently totally disregarded the PACT/WGA Minimum Basic Agreement, they have totally devalued the talent, skill, time and craft required to write an hour of drama.

If you want writing to be a case of who can low-ball the most then you're going to end up with more crap on TV than is there already. It's hard enough earning a living and still doing a good job, imagine what kind of shite is going to get written when writers have to work three or four shows just to make ends meet?

This particular prodco doesn't have a good rep with writers as it is. That's why I'm not surprised to hear this. But they manage to get quite a lot on TV. I'm guessing because they low-ball the networks on budgets. But I bet their producers fee doesn't take a hit. Just us poor Schmoes.

The only power I have as a writer is to say 'piss off' to them. And that's just what I'm going to do.


wcdixon said...

ooo...a nerve is touched...

I spent the beginning of last year in sitdowns with a company that you describe. Lots of production, lots of turnover (in terms of staff and writers) because they lowballed everyone. And their attitude was amazing: 'This is the way we do it here' apologies, no excuses (in some weird way part of me admired their forthrightness and/or balls) --- and because of my 'experience' they were willing to offer me twice what they paid others...which was still 'a third' less than Guild minimums.

Because I needed work I did hum and haw a bit, but passed, for all the reasons Eng Dave mentions...though I did take an earful from some people later about 'something being better than nothing'. But once you allow them to do it, thats all they will do...and yer right, their producers fees weren't cut in half. I guess I figured I, and the work, was worth more.

English Dave said...

Good man Will. I know how tempting it is to take the money and run. And you're right, you and the work are worth more.

If I thought I was being pissed on I very much doubt if my scipt would be less than urine filled, now matter how good I tried to make it.

English Dave said...


I've just told my agents that as far as I'm concerned this prodco is off limits.

Screw 'em.

DJ said...

Do tell what show it is.


EJ Pennypacker

English Dave said...

Hi EJ, Big Bill's due across anytime now. How 'bout another sesh if you're in the country?

The circumstances surrounding that prodco and the paymernt are I believe being looked into by PACT. If it stacks up, rest assured I'll name and shame them.

DJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJ said...

Hi ED,

I'm stuck in the US until my papers are sorted out. So that could be Dec/Jan.

Wish I could be there, but have a few on me!

When I'm next in town I'll drop a line and set-up a DD meeting.

Take it easy fella.