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March 3, 2009

WGA Strike -- One Year Later

WGAw Executive Director sent this letter to the membership on the one-year anniversary of the end of the 2007-2008 writers' strike. In it, he quotes Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ron Moore as saying:

In my opinion, nothing is as important as the issues surrounding digital delivery of content. Nothing. In the not so distant future, literally every piece of work ever done by the Guild will be available digitally. The systems and methods of delivery will vary and change, but the central truth is that all our work is going to be converted to ones and zeroes and sent to the consumer. We have to have a very clear, very solid method of tracking and being compensated for any and all work that is delivered in this way, whether it was originally created for TV or film or directly for digital distribution. To me, it is a strike issue.

I absolutely believe this to be true. A year later I remain convinced that the WGA scored a moral victory, despite the fact that the strike effectively ended my career as a rank-and-file screenwriter.

At the time of the strike, my fledgling writing career was at an all-time high. I had a writing gig at a TV network and was on the verge of selling two more pitches. I was being asked back for meetings with top producers and executives.

The strike effectively halted all the momentum I'd worked so hard to build. The studios and television networks did a lot of housecleaning, and when the writers came back to work, many in-development projects were killed, and old pitches left for dead. My network gig was one of the casualties, and because I'd spent the strike getting to know my daughter (born just 10 days after the strike began), I didn't have anything new to get my foot back into those doors that had been cracked so wide just the previous summer.

I can't say I'm not disappointed, but I have no regrets, and I'm proud of the work done by our negotiating committee to secure a future where new media is covered under the WGA. And being collateral damage has given me ample opportunity to reflect on the nature of success, be it mine or the collective success of my guild. I rest on Proverbs 21:31, elucidated so well in a 2005 sermon by my pastor, Rev. Sam Andreades of the Village Church:

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.

Related Tags: screenwriting, strike, WGA