Writers strike over Hollywood’s increasing gig economy in the streaming age
Television and film writers in Hollywood are striking as they face more precarious employment conditions due to the rise of streaming platforms. The Writers Guild of America (WGA), representing 11,500 screenwriters, has ordered a strike following a breakdown in talks with studios and streaming services over better pay and working conditions.
Sarah Fischer, a writer in her 30s, highlighted how the work has shifted more towards gig work, making it challenging to have a stable career in the industry. The traditional model of writers working on lengthy TV seasons has been disrupted by streaming services like Netflix, which often have much shorter seasons.
As a result, opportunities are more scarce, writing teams are smaller, and gaining vital on-set experience has become increasingly difficult. With residual payments and pay rates dropping, even experienced writers are struggling to financially sustain themselves in the profession.
Screenwriter Adam Pava argued that Hollywood has been influenced by the culture and business practices of Silicon Valley, leading to a gig-based approach and less consideration for artists. He said…
“Studios used to be about making great movies. Now they’re about appeasing shareholders.”
The last Hollywood writers’ strike, in 2007, lasted 100 days, wrote the Guardian.
The writers outside Amazon Studios chanted on Tuesday…
“Fists up, pens down, LA is a union town!”
Many striking writers were wearing blue Writers Guild T-shirts as they marched, demanding better pay and protections in an era of streaming dominance.
For Pendleton-Thompson, a Star Trek writer who spent years working as a Hollywood assistant before joining the Writers Guild in 2021, the strike means financial uncertainty and negotiations over dream film projects suddenly in limbo. But she believes the fight is worth it.
She is especially concerned about studios using AI for stories about people of colour and people with disabilities.
“We’re going to get the stories of people who have been disempowered told through the voice of the algorithm rather than people who have experienced it.
“I think it’s the beginning of a bigger conversation about how AI is going to be used to continue to funnel money straight to the top, rather than distributing it to the hard-working people who built this industry.”
Amidst job cuts at companies like Disney, writers are calling out corporate greed and are looking to receive a fair share for their work in this changing entertainment landscape.
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