Negotiations went down to the wire last night but it looks like it’s almost a certainty that the Writers’ Guild of America will go on strike today. Issues of contention include payment for material released over the Internet and to cell phones and changes in how writers are paid for movies and TV shows released on DVD.
The last big writers’ strike took place in 1988 and lasted for five months. Teamsters and other film workers walked out in sympathy, causing a production shutdown. Director and Screen Actor Guilds contracts run out on June 30th, 2008. Producers are already trying to resolve those situations but these other above-the-line workers are most likely going to sit tight and see what the writers get, as they have many of the same concerns.
So what does this mean to you? Well, not much right now. Soap operas and talk and comedy shows that use guild writers will run into trouble almost immediately because they work on the fly and don’t have a backlog of scripts to get them through a few months. All of the big 2008 movies are either done or in progress. Film producers have been hoarding scripts so they can get to work on 2009 movies.
The biggest problem might not be as obvious as the TV shutdowns or extra repeats. Movies are being rushed into production, possibly without necessary checks or rewrites. In other words, you’ll still have plenty of movies–there just might be more than your average share of clunkers in the next year or two.