The five Nordic writers Guilds all stand in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America’s strike, now in its second week, and relate to their concerns in the age of streaming.
As the global film industry is preparing for the Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film, all eyes and ears are also focused on Hollywood where the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and its 11,500 members are having their biggest strike action in 16 years, a movement which started May 2.
At stake are writers’ plea for a fairer remuneration and better working conditions in the streaming age.
The biggest bones of contention between WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) representing the Hollywood Studios and giant streamers are the guaranteed TV staffing and length of employment, compensation for the loss of residual fees in the streaming age, but also the not-so-far threat of AI to creative writers.
The five Nordic Writers Guilds have voiced their solidarity with their US counterparts and underlined similarities with their situations (see below).
The strike might not affect so much - for now - the feature film business, but the US TV sector and those associated to US shows, are already being impacted, including in the Nordics, such as Torfinnur Jákupsson (TROM) based between the Faroe Islands and Denmark: “I am a co-writer on a US and UK-set show in development that is affected by the current strike; which isn’t limited to the US,” he said.
Jákupsson also pointed out that Hollywood writers’ strike has a particular resonance for Denmark, following last year’s streaming crisis, and only underscores the need for a reshuffling of writers’ working conditions in today’s different entertainment economy. “As a Nordic writer, it is interesting to follow the US strike in light of what has been going on in the Danish industry over the past couple of years. The dispute here, involving streamers and networks, producers, creatives as well as the government, received a lot of criticism from all sides of the negotiating table as well as international attention. Now, it seems like it was just ahead of the curve. The trends are shifting, and the ripple effect is seen everywhere,” he noted before adding.
“I think it is a good time to re-evaluate the state of the industry and not least where we’re headed. It is an exciting time with new opportunities and new ways of working, but we also need to bear in mind what has worked well in the past and why. It is also time for a more open and transparent dialogue going forward, because in the end, we are all in this together,” he underlined.
For her part, Danish creator and writer Mette Heeno (Carmen Curlers, Snow Angels) who fully supports the WGA action, stressed the fragile eco-system in which writers are working today: “A lot has changed in the last couple of years in the ways series and film are being produced, distributed and watched,” she said.
“Some people are really good at making money from foreseeing and adjusting all these changes. Some people are not. Most writers are not. And eventually, this leads to situations where the rights of the writer, decent contracts, and guaranteed wages are just more obstacles to be overcome. This makes it more difficult for writers to make a living. And in the end, it makes it more difficult to uphold the sustainability of the entire business.”
While the WGA strike is gaining support internationally, the AMPTP has started talks with the Directors Guild of America (DGA) over 2023 contract terms. In the meantime, the international film community is holding its breath.
Statements from Nordic Writers Guilds: