Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How much does a writer earn?

Over the last ten years, maybe longer, I have seen the price of screenplays going down and down... and down. 

With the advent of websites advertising jobs for screenwriters like Mandy and InkTip and others probably being created as I write, writers will do anything to get a job. What's interesting about this is that the people advertising for writers often will not pay a dime.

What this translates is that "You should be happy to get a credit.

What this credit probably isn't anything because the movie they write might never get shown anywhere except the producer's living room.

Mandy, for example, has maybe a half dozen writing jobs offering anywhere from nothing to maybe $1500. Or money paid after the film is made. Sometimes. For a full screenplay either a spec of a writing job.

Okay, to be honest there are some who will offer more, even at WGA  rates, but very rarely.
I don't really know how many aspiring writers there are out there but estimating the amounts of film school graduates, I would say at least 500 screenplay graduates, my friends say more like 1000.

And each of them are hungrier than hell and would take a job that they would have to pay for to get. It's crazy.

What about WGA? 

WGA (Writer's Guild of America) demands payment for anything, the rate for an average movie is around $44,000 for one screenplay. It can change with high budget or low budget allowances. Lowest payment is around $11,000 for budgets $299,999.00 (otherwise known as $200k)

WGA doesn't like low budgets but they are finding that there's more screenplays out there dying to be made either by Kickstarter or Uncle Fred or a few doctors putting in the money as long as their daughters get cast.

But finally, WGA came up with a low budget agreement just so some writers can get work. A statistic I saw once suggested that of the 8000 WGA writers (nobody knows the real amount so I'll use the $8 G's) about 15% of that number is actually working.

Meaning that 85% are unemployed.

I've used the low budget agreements a few weeks ago and should be on this blog pace.

But the bigger question is; if it's not WGA low budget writers who get the job, who does get the job?  Or shall I say "the opportunity to get a credit" for a movie that won't probably ever be seen.

I can only see this getting bigger and bigger, less money for more jobs for movies that nobody will see. Okay, maybe some of them, but at lest 80% won't ever be seen.

And the writer will be waiting for the money the producer promised but it was probably after profits, if any. And we all know what that means. 

Some of these producers in those websites are probably honest, but those who want writers to write for nothing or for $500 or whatever, there'll always be writers who will take the job.

Because there's lots of writers and they will work for free.

But you have to wonder what kind of writers these producers get? Good ones, bad ones, losers, winners? I'm curious, never really heard from anyone who got a gig from the web.

This seems to be the future as more and more low budget movies push each other aside as big studio movies still can't figure out how to make bigger movies different rather than the same as the last big movie. 

How many Spidermen can you take?

I don't know what's going to happen, some people say it won't be long before the studios can CGI an actor and then maybe a screenplay.

Then we're all out of business.

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