Monday, November 23, 2015

The "Others"

A week or so ago I received email from the Writer's Guild (WGA) of which I am a member. For the record I'm also in the Canadian writer's guild, WGC. I get emails from both but this time it came close to home, from WGA.

Once a year, WGA arranges to possibly find work for the following under the category of the following people;
Minority writers
Writers with disabilities
Women writers
Writers age 55 and over
LBGT writers.

In plain speak, this is the WGA's way of saying they're helping the above categories. And where do I come in?

Writers age 55 and over.

Or as my woman writer friend says, "older men are now in with women writers."

So what am I going to do? Well, go for it, eh. I am over 55, I think maybe 98 but that's more like I feel.

So what is it all about?

It means that all of the above can send in a TV script and or a spec script and maybe a screenplay, I'm not sure of all of it.

Who do they/me send it to?

To current showrunners, people who are writer/producers. They're the people who make decisions as to who to hire and who to fire and who deals with the networks and other stuff. 

But first it goes thru WGA biz and then the showrunners will read all of the submissions, maybe a few thousand, maybe less. Then they pick the ones that might have the chops, as they say.

And what happens?

You, me and anyone else of the group can get to meet the showrunners and even maybe get a script deal out of them. Or stay with them forever.

So I sent my S.O.B. script to them. By the way, there are no names on the script, so as to make sure that the showrunners don't know who sent a script and friends don't sneak in.

This is a difficult thing to deal with in another way. Everyone on that list above is valid for this kind of deal. But most of them are unhappy about one category.

Writers over 55.

Why? Because we're the majority group - men - old men. 

So is it fair? Remember there are no names on the scripts so showrunners don't know if the script they read is from an LGBT writer or an old man or an angry woman. And they are angry. 

There's a great article in last weeks LA Weekly about it and I'm going to try to post it on my blog later.

What do I think? I think I have a greater chance being a man since there's more of us than the other groups. Having said that I will now realize I have lost my chances. A Catholic thing. Don't brag.

But I am a good writer for women's roles, and I can verify it. Jody Foster's company, Smart Egg called me in because they didn't believe a man wrote a screenplay they were contemplating. If you want more, I can send that too.

It's a tough one, and I really wouldn't want to be in any of the other groups, I like where I am. 

But whomever wins a shot with some showrunners, we're a lot better than DGA aka Director's Guild of America. 

They're not doing anything like WGA at all. My director friend over 60 is very angry because nobody hires him anymore.

But he's done well for himself, and doesn't really need the money. Just a movie now and then.

So should I take a potential writing job from a woman because the majority of writers over 55 are probably twenty times as many as women. Maybe forty or fifty times?
First of all, there is no guarantee for me to get a job.

And since the scripts have no names, it's pretty hard to see who gets a job.

One story; I was working on a series in Vancouver with two male writers and a female intern writer. I was there for 2 weeks and noticed immediately that the two male writers had the girl running for coffee and errands.  On the third day I took her aside and told her to tell them to get their own coffee and all the other crap.

She slowly did that, with my help and ended up in my office learning a few things here and there. I left after the 2 weeks and she thanked me for the help. Ten years later I saw her at a studio and she was now a showrunner herself. And she did remember me, very much.

So you can't say that I was one of those jerks.   

But I've said this more than once and I repeat it;

The best thing about writers is that they can write. They don't need actors or crews or directors! Everyone else on the crew has to be hired, the actors, the camera "people" and the director. Writers however, depending on how much money they have or need, can always write and sell something.

I've sold five spec scripts and have about twenty more hanging on "the shelf."

Content, as Machio Kaku says, will always be needed a hundred years from now. 

Writers don't need anyone in order to write a story. Just a reasonably working laptop or whatever.

Remember, they need us more than we need them.

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