So, I live in Los Angeles and have been for more than a decade. I'm even a writer here. Of course, since most of my success here has been in animation, I'm not in the WGA (don't ask why writing cartoons doesn't count) so I'm not on strike (from a job I don't have). Still I know the industry a bit and I know the technology that is the catalyst behind all of this trouble, so I may have something worthwhile to add to the discussion. Keep reading and see if you think that's true.

OK, my take on the strike is pretty damn straight forward. There are two sides to it, however.

The Here and the Now (short term):

The Internet and DVDs are making studios more money. Writers' contracts were not originally negotiated with so-called "new digital media" in mind. As a result, the studios are making more money and some of that should be going to the writers, though the studios (of course) don't think so.

I'm not sure what the take of the studios is though--in my mind it would seem like there are a finite number of viewers and whether they watch on TV, online or on DVD, the numbers don't grow, they just sort of shift from one medium to another. A good example of this is how Edward James Olmos told fans of his show Battlestar Galactica that they need to be watching the show on TV because NBC/Universal doesn't track when fans download episodes off of iTunes and/or Bit Torrent. This suggests that it's the same number of people who would be watching on TV, if that were the only medium the show was available on. The no-longer-updated blog MindJack.com has an interesting piece on how Battlestar Galactica killed commercial TV (www.mindjack.com//feature/piracy051305.html) that is an interesting read, I think.

The Down-the-Road (long term):

The fact of the matter is that the studio system is dying. It's a quiet undercurrent here in LA that no one really wants to be too honest about. Former "Cheers" writer Rob Long does a radio column for KCRW here in LA where he talks about being inside the industry and he recently started blogging--in one post he says:
The web is like Wal*Mart. And we in the entertainment industry are sitting in a store on a slowly emptying out Main Street, making our expensive handmade doo-dads and selling thirty-dollar rakes, and if we only listened, we could hear them putting up the super Wal*Mart out by the interstate, where it meets the state highway, where the traffic is. Where it’s easy for people to park and shop. And we’re sitting, in our little Main Street boutique with our quaint little expensive merchandise, wondering where all the people are.


In my mind, it doesn't matter what the writers get--they'll be in higher and higher demand in the coming years as the studios do their best to stay alive. Radiohead doubling their profits on their latest album by going it alone is proof that the studios are not as required as they used to be and it's likely they'll be less and less required as the years go on.

So, they'll cut their own salaries and give creative-types more money to keep themselves a viable part of the equation. They'll be like agents and managers are now. So, ultimately, I don't think it matters what happens with the strike now because in the long term the results will be the same. Studios will be marginalized and the creatives will be the new sheriffs in town. Won't that be nice? I'll have to move back to LA when that happens :)

(After all, the reason I'm where I am is because people have looked at my better ideas and wondered just what the hell to do with them without risking too much. Thanks to New Digital Media (NDM) I can decide that for myself now.)

Since the end result will be the same and it really won't make any difference how much or how little the studios give writers, the studios might as well start being nice now before writers get too bitter and vindictive about it.

Resources:

So, that's my take on things. There are some great resources out there about the strike. The KCRW radio columnist and former "Cheers" writer I mentioned above has a blog that he's been using to talk about the strike and you can check it out at RobLong.com. Long also points to a blog post by Marc Andreesen (you may know him as the guy who invented Netscape) about the strike which you can find here: blog.pmarca.com/2007/11/suicide-by-stri.html

Rob Long says Andreessen "gets it" despite the fact that Andreesen isn't even in the entertainment industry. I think Rob Long is mistaken--Andreessen helped invent the Internet as we know it and, as a result, helped reinvent the entertainment industry as we know it.

Oh and you can also follow twitter.com/writersstrike for the latest news and links about the strike. That's how I've been keeping up on things. That and having a close friend work on a major studio lot helps, too.

Orignal From: ThePete on TheWriters' Strike