Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Times Are A - Changin'

If you haven't heard already there is a pending Writer's Strike here in Los Angeles. That means that for the most part, those writers who belong to the WGA will soon be manning the picket lines, and spending the rest of their time working on spec scripts and other writing work.

I was reading Kay this morning and "Anonymous" commented on what other sorts of work he/she should be pursuing...

And here's where the axe falls on some writers' necks.

See, there's ton of work out there that's available if you are entrepreneurial enough to pursue it. No one is going to hand you a contract for a first novel. No one is going to say, "Come write a graphic novel. Here's a check." You aren't going to be flooded with people saying, "You're a tv writer so you can write for me while the strike is on."

That is unless you already have experience in these fields. (Hello Messrs. Whedon, Straczynski, Grillo-Marxuach, Vaughn).

But all is not lost. There are opportunities out there, but you'll have to set them up yourself. Be your own producer or publisher, your own marketing director, your own cameraman, director, art director and publicist.

The great thing is that the tools are already available. Free blogs. Free photo archives. Free editing software. Free publishing services. Free merchandising and marketing.

You could do this, and create an online novel series.

Or just create the novel.

You could create a web serial.

You could create a podcast.

And you can create all the merchandise for free.

You CAN do all this stuff, and the cool part is:


I think this is the opportunity that many of the "lower earning" writer's in the union have been looking for - the opportunity to be their own boss. To own the store. To quit just being an employee. To quit having to take a stupid note because your job's at risk.

And that's when the studios are going to be afraid. That's when they are going to understand that the rules are changing and they HAVE to change with it. They are going to have to understand and look at this with new eyes...

As will all the writers.

Times are changing. Wear a cup.


JargonX said...

That was my first reaction, too. Then I saw this:

The rules set out by the WGA for their writers includes, apparently, a ban on writing for animation and "all forms of new media."

There go the web series. There go the direct-to-the-internet films.

It's a little excessive, in my opinion. Just ban the writers from working with any guild-signatory companies (and their subsidiaries). Don't put a chokehold on new media when THE WHOLE POINT OF THE STRIKE IS THE NEW MEDIA.

If you're striking to get your share of revenue from (DVDS and) digital downloads, don't bar the writers from working on the medium themselves. Encourage it. Show the stupid networks and studios that the writers don't need them to make money. Do that, and the big guys will come calling, smiles on and wallets open.

Bill Cunningham said...

JargonX -

Agreed and agreed.

The more we encourage entrepreneurism the more we all benefit. Period.

For those of you not on his BAD SIGNAL email newsletter, Warren Ellis expressed a very similar sentiment to my post.

I just think it's silly that the WGA also wants to try and legislate/control those of us not in the union, by threatening to ban me from ever joining the union if I work in new media.

This comes at a time when I am moving all of my media-making activity to the web...

I understand they don't want people to "scab" but the phrasing needs to be more precise. They don't want me to work on "studio" new media that is guild signatory.

Big difference in intent which seems to have been lost in the fervor to build this into a strike.

Earl Newton said...

Hey, I'm already here!

Stranger Things

Wil Wheaton said...

This sounds incredibly familiar to me, because I've been saying the same thing since about 2002.

In fact, it's how I've been able to have an entirely new career as a writer.

Starting up is difficult and scary, but once you're running, it's the most rewarding thing in the world.

Bill Cunningham said...

Thanks for dropping by, Wil. Everybody be sure to check out Wil's blog and his column at

Yes, getting started on your own IS scary, but the sense of accomplishment and ownership you get beats scary with a stick.

It's like owning your house instead of having to pay rent. There's nothing like it.

Wil Wheaton said...

It's even better than that! It's like owning the house you want to own, instead of living in the apartment someone else says you have to live in.

Bill Cunningham said...

And you actually like the neighbors...

Shawna said...

Wil Wheaton comments on your blog??

I'm not worthy.