I’m striking for fair compensation and representation, because every writer is a writer, no matter where he or she is writing. From TV to film to non-jurisdictional programming (Reality, Basic Cable, Animation, Webisodes, Mobisodes, etc.), if you are writing content that is watched on a screen, then you deserve compensation, health care and pension. This is an industry where you work hard and risk an awful lot just to be lucky enough to make a single sale. A single sale of a script, let alone be lucky enough to make a big sale, or be on a successful television show. And you often go years between gigs. I went a year between my last two. And what keeps you going are the residuals. Because when you’re not working, you’re supposed to still be writing. For free. With the hope that you’ll sell something else. Without the little residual checks in the mail, it is difficult to pay the mortgage. This is a business where you don’t earn a paycheck a week. Sometimes you don’t get them for a very long time. The time between when I made a development deal for Why Moms Are Weird to when I got paid for it was eight months. During that time I sold that pitch to ABC, wrote many drafts of a pilot, and eventually saw that pilot get turned down. Eight months between getting a job and getting paid for it. Eight months where I had to work and wait, while trying to pay the bills.
Residuals aren’t what get us fancy cars and mansions. They are what keep us going while we work. They’re our paychecks. I’ve been working in television for over three years. How many residual checks have I received in that time? One. One single green envelope.
Every time someone buys one of my novels, in print or internet form, I am paid a percentage, because I created that content. It should be no different for television, film or internet broadcasts of that media.
I have worked on reality shows, basic cable shows, basic cable films, and network television. I spent one season writing for a non-union basic cable comedy show, working upwards of sixty hours a week on the second-highest rated show on Comedy Central, and at the end of that year I received a letter in the mail from the Writers Guild that said: “You have received zero points toward your pension.”
It’s time for writers to be represented and compensated for the work that they create, work that generates jobs, entertainment, and revenue. I wouldn’t walk just to make more money. I walk to get the respect that everybody who works in the entertainment industry deserves. The thing is in business, respect is handed out through dollars.
I’m walking for my future. For my health care. For my pension. For my family. For every writer who writes with hope and a dream. I walk because it matters.