The UK industry is still digesting the impact of the large WGA strike with professionals we have spoken to over the past 24 hours expressing a mixture of solidarity, uncertainty and the view that the strike will be less of a problem than other macro issues affecting their businesses.
Yesterday the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain was clear in its support of the WGA strike, reminding members that they would be removed from the union if they did work within the WGA’s purview during the strike. Detailed instructions and FAQ posted. WGA’s own rules during strike here.
“We continue to show our solidarity with our sister union and its members in the United States as they embark on industrial action to secure fair wages and decent working conditions and receive their due share in the future financial successes of their work,” said the WGGB President. Lisa Holdsworth.
The full ramifications of the pullout will only become clear with time, but for now, writers, producers, and agents are gathering information and relying on contingency plans to keep major productions on track. Some criticized the way it got to this point, with one senior studio executive arguing that the industry had “sleeped” on strike and there was not enough urgency to agree on a solution.
UK Photography Productions & behind
There are a slew of US-UK co-productions currently in the works in the UK that could theoretically be derailed by the strike.
Amazon Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power and Disney+ the assistant Among the major American dramas currently filming in the United Kingdom. If their scripts are incomplete, productions could run into problems if their American writers have to snag gadgets. Amazon and Disney did not respond to a request for comment.
Disney+ Andor Among the shows known to continue unrelated productions (in London) were all scripts for season two closed before the strike began. The same is true for Dragon house the second season.
Questions remain about how the Buds can make edits to scripts without a book. Most of the big studios’ series and movies have writers available 24/7, which isn’t possible during a strike. One respected British director said they were awaiting guidance from their studio on what to change in the production script now that industrial work has begun.
In the second season of HBO’s tokyo vice, which is currently filming in Japan, we understand that writers who had quickly written final drafts before May 2nd were told they had to put a timestamp on all of their scripts to prove when it was finished. Producers are allowed to make minor changes to scripts from now on but within a very narrow framework. Showrunner JT Rogers is still on but also banned from making any changes to the scripts.
Programs that have significant funding for co-productions, but are shown in the UK with British writers, appear to be unaffected at present. This includes Disney doctor whowhich was directed by Welsh writer Russell T Davies and is currently being filmed in Cardiff by Bad Wolf and BBC Studios.
Warner Bros. beetle 2 It is among the studio’s major films to be released in the UK in the coming weeks. focus features Nosferatu and the twentieth century alien Filming is currently taking place in Central Europe. Scripts for any movie shooting this spring should be in place. The strike has a more direct impact on television than on film.
“It’s very complicated,” said a senior British writer. “If you are a British writer working on an American program that is under the authority of the WGA, you cannot continue until this issue is resolved. The union has been firm about this.”
Source is currently working on an independent British drama series, and is currently writing shows for streaming creators who are not under WGA contracts, which means they can continue working.
WGA writers have spent the past few weeks aggressively finishing scripts in order to meet the strike deadline.
We’re also hearing that scripts for priority film packages to be sold at Cannes have been accelerated in recent weeks to avoid making the strike mistake.
Some of the companies based in Europe, such as Poor disguise Owner, Caryn Mandabach Productions, she is not a signatory to the WGA and so can continue to develop with writers from all over Europe. A commission from a European broadcaster is not against syndication rules, and it allows business to continue, especially in a global market less averse to subtitled foreign content.
As one senior studio executive put it, “When American train drivers strike, their European counterparts don’t follow suit.”
The agents and producers respond
UK agents are locked into calls with their customers trying to quantify the problems, with some admitting the full extent of the drawn-out strike will not be known for a few days.
One agent admitted that the impact was more problematic than expected: “Our writers are more affected than we first thought. We’re still getting the ground and we’ve got a lot of calls being made with several clients to discuss it all with them. We’ll have more clarity in the coming days.” “.
John McVay, chief executive of the PTA, downplayed the potential harm of the strike. “There may be some American writers working in broadcast television here, but for most of our local material the British writers are on board, and that’s what broadcasters want, a British voice,” he said. “They wish there were more of them… Nobody calls me up saying ‘Oh damn what are we going to do?'” “
This idea was supported by a high-ranking European drama producer, who gave offers to broadcast creators. Recently, he said, offers for American writers to work in European shows have been few and far between, and vice versa. “Since Netflix appears to have about 75% of its total subscribers outside the US, you could argue that domestic markets are more important to international shows today, and then local writers,” he added. “When we talk to streaming services about international programming, they usually don’t ask for American writers.”
One American writer, who works internationally, said he thinks American studios will think hard about how to attract European and British writers, even if their local guilds urge them to ditch the paraphernalia.
A senior international writer floated the idea that writing execs at some of the major US networks were considering buying more shows from abroad, rather than commissioning originals. However, they added that the idea of importing the book from abroad is unrealistic. “You can’t expect writers from outside the United States to be able to be present and write in the American market,” he said.
One prominent British producer theorized that the timing could be in the broadcasters’ favor: “In a very cynical way, this could be very good timing for broadcasters, who are currently thinking about how to do less, not more. For all the reasons we know, there’s a slowdown.” And a focus on how they spend their money. That could be very helpful in a bad way.”
The broader slowdown in the written space mattered to many. Inflation, content and platform saturation, and curtailed broadcast spending contributed to the slowdown in the upscale television market.
One UK-based commissioner, who works for a broadcasting company in the US, said belt-tightening could make writers strike “less important” than if it happened during the boom.
Scripted slowdown has been a talking point in recent Mip TV. “The (scripted) TV bubble has burst,” Studiocanal CEO Anna Marsh declared during her keynote, while Sister chair Jane Featherstone predicted a “painful” period as the drama market corrects itself and reduces inflation.
McVay said that predicting Featherstone isn’t a bad thing. “We had an exceptional time when (buyers) panicked and everything was made, so you have to think about what we measure,” he added. Now what is happening is a correction. Going out of the boom is a good thing because people were working back-to-back, they were exhausted and wage rates were high.”
One programmer distributor, negotiating with buyers across Europe on multiple projects, said grids are simply the best choice.
“A lot of things were put on the market after Covid and I think now there will be a period when less things are being made,” he added. “Desirable, well-packaged offerings are still in high demand but some things just don’t feel necessary right now.”
Writers take a stand
A number of British writers have posted messages of support and compassion on social media. Many of them experience similar pressures and tensions as their American counterparts.
David Allison, writer Marcella And Trust me, and the WGGB representative in Yorkshire, applauded his union’s response after it reminded members that they would be removed from the union if they took to work within the WGA’s purview during the strike: “Never mess around, full solidarity”, he added. You’re stealing work from American writers on Sly and it’s going to be blacklisted.”
Writing under the name Jack Gatland, novelist Tony Lee said: “I may be in the UK but as a member of The Writers Guild I stand in solidarity with the WGA.”
But there was also confusion among some union members in the UK about how the strike would affect them. Author Paula Agbagi (Too far gone) echoed a familiar refrain when calling for the WGGB to issue clear guidelines on what “solidarity” looks like:
Fresh off the boat Writer Camilla Blackett has warned UK union members about the ‘trap’ that could come from offering work in the US
Additional reporting by Jesse Wittuck