The Hollywood writers strike is over. What's next for the writers?
After 148 days, these writers are looking forward to getting back to work.
Who are they? The Writers Guild of America represents nearly 12,000 writers in show business across the U.S.
- Two members, writers Elise Brown and Kylie Brakeman, spoke with All Things Considered about what it means to them for their strike to finally be over.
What's the big deal? If you've been following this story, you'll know the many hours of organizing and negotiating that went into finalizing the historic deal between the striking writers and the studios they work with.
- There were plenty of twists and turns, including rogue studio tour visitors joining the picket lines, trees getting chopped and executives making comments that might not have helped their cause.
- And, of course, there's the personal impact on each writer that participated in the strike. Many struggled to make ends meet and worried about their place in the industry as AI became more common.
What are they saying? Here's how Brown and Brakeman reflected on the past few months, and what they see in their future.
How the pause impacted their own lives:
I definitely felt a little aimless, a little wandering. It sort of felt like the first week or two of COVID lockdown, but only applied to us.
I picked up the banjo. We were on strike for long enough for me to buy a banjo, sort of learn how to play the banjo, and then completely forget how to play the banjo.
The five months were definitely hard. I love to write. It's one of my favorite things to do. And even when I'm not working I still kind of do it on the side for my own things.
I'd say that the first month or two, I was able to write. But towards the second half of it or so, there was just so much anxiety and emotion built up in terms of just trying to figure out where the strike was going and trying to continue to make ends meet, and also just worrying about being out on the lines and the uncertainty of it all, that I just wasn't really writing very much.
Want more on the WGA deal? Listen to Consider This for the full breakdown.
Their thoughts on the deal struck by the WGA:
I think it's great that they started to establish a framework for residuals for streaming, because I think that most of our jobs will be streaming.
And so to finally have something codified that will say like, "Hey, we deserve to be paid for this because this is TV, we deserve to be paid for this." I also think the gains are pretty significant. I think that film and TV is being hijacked by tech overlords who want to turn film and TV into, like, content sludge that we slurp up. There has been this draw and I think that this is a good first step at saying, "Hey, writing is work." A robot cannot write for us. I think, not to get all poetic or whatever, but binding humans to art I think is very important. And I think that that's a fundamental thing about art that cannot be taken away.
I think [the deal] is something that's going to affect all of us. I think that [it's important to] even just having the ability to have conversations about protecting our work from being used to train AI, about being in control of whether or not AI material is considered intellectual property.
And what they look forward to tackling next:
I am looking forward to hopefully being staffed in the future. I think that being in a writer's room is sometimes the most fun thing in the world.
I love just those weird little tangents that you go on when everyone's in a room like, "OK, what was this weird McDonald's character that they discontinued in the '80s? And why were people mad about it?"
Just going down these rabbit holes with people sometimes generates the most fun stuff. And I miss that feeling of being in a room and bouncing off other people.
I'm really excited to go back to work, and I know that we've all been very excited to go back. But I also feel for everyone who is currently looking for work.
The industry has contracted a little bit. Shows have gotten canceled and pulled during the strike and even before.
And I also still hope that the actors who are still on strike are able to get a great deal and get some of the same protections and gains that we were able to.
So, what now?
- While writers are back to work, members of SAG-AFTRA are still on the picket lines.
- And it isn't just Hollywood seeing a moment in organized labor — several major U.S. industries striking or threatening to walk off are showing that 2023 has been the year of the union.