The entertainment industry may be heading towards a perilous halt as the potential Hollywood writers’ strike threatens to grind productions to a halt. In a historic vote, nearly 98% of voting Writers Guild of America (WGA) members authorized a strike after accusing Hollywood production companies of undervaluing the contributions of writers, damaging their working conditions and inhibiting career growth.
Many industry veterans complain of the pay disparity created by the transition of traditional TV and film towards streaming platforms, where writers earn less in minimum wages and residuals for creating content that may attract massive viewership. Not only does the existing agreement yield minimal compensation for writers working on shorter seasons, but the lack of job security in the gig economy and the vanishing career ladder to higher roles further worsen the TV and film writing scene. In this context, a 2023 writers’ strike can spectacularly aggravate the situation for writers and stifle the delivery of quality work, threatening their very career existence.
The length and effect of a strike would depend on its duration. Broadcast shows with their already filmed and written final episodes may not initially impact the viewers, but an extended work stoppage has the potential to delay the airing of the shows on streamed platforms, including the untimely release of films waiting to debut in the next two years. While an agreement remains to be reached within two weeks, industry professionals brace for a strike and hope the negotiations end in a favorable compensation package for the writers.
Though many are planning as if the strike will happen, not everyone can afford to halt their work. For instance, the “Abbott Elementary” writers are set to start work on May 1, the same day the contract expires. The writers face the risk of not only losing work but also the job momentum as the delay in production can lead to cancellation or postponement of shows, causing a significant loss of income and job security.
The entertainment industry is built on the quality of its content, and if writers are undervalued and lose motivation, the sector may suffer the same fate. As Elsa Ramo, the managing partner of a Hollywood law firm, puts it, “Our perspective is, how do we continue to get things made if-and-when the strike happens?”