Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writers' salaries drop while other industries' wages rise

ABC World News Tonight recently reported that almost all salaries have increased in the last year by approximately .5%. while CEOs' salaries went up roughly 23% ( ABC).

But as most Americans' pay increases, if only to account for rising costs of living, film industry salaries sank almost 10% with most of this decline in the writing departments, according to the Writers Guild of America. In a recent article by Variety, WGA writers' salaries went down nearly 3% and the amount of WGA writers employed decreased by roughly 11%.

While these figures only refer to WGA works and writers, it's significant to note a decline in any of the Guilds, especially one devoted to writers as more and more films are relying on adapted screenplays instead of original ones. This summer's blockbuster films include remakes ("Arthur"), comic book adaptations ("Xmen" and "Captain America"), and sequels ("Transformers," "Hangover 2," "Pirates of the Caribbean 4"). Original screenplays are either not being optioned by WGA writers (Variety notes "four of the 10 Oscar-nommed screenplays this year -- "Another Year," "The King's Speech," "Toy Story 3" and "Winter's Bone" -- were ineligible for WGA Awards") or not being written enough.
Summer 2011 marks a unique time in Hollywood - when almost every major hit is a sequel or remake of some kind
I wasn't a diehard "Inception" fan like some were, as I saw traces of "Matrix" and "Dark City" in the script, but I do commend it and other mainstream hits that were products of a writer's mind and nothing more. That isn't to say adapted screenplays aren't as challenging to write as original ones - some may argue, they are indeed more challenging. Nevertheless, I think WGA and independent writers need to hone their creativity skills to up the ante for their salaries.

But original or not, Variety proves that writers are getting the short end of the stick. This is nothing new; writers' strikes are well-known in both television and film as their jobs are usually undervalued and under-payed. Film producers and studio execs need to value the work of creatives or see a parallel and equal decline in the work of writers as their salaries decrease. I for one am not looking forward to more 3D concert movies.