WGA Awards Sticks to Virtual Format During Uncertainty
Art and Experience:
After another politically and socially turbulent year, the Writers Guild of America is ready to celebrate the best that its members have to offer, while reflecting on the ever-changing social and entertainment landscape.
The WGA’s annual awards event, a joint venture between WGAW and WGAWE, will be held on Sunday, March 20th, and similar to last year, will be handled as a virtual event. With COVID still firmly lingering in the space of the populace, the guild’s priorities have naturally shifted in ways that couldn’t have been anticipated, while still staying true to its collective core values.
This year’s WGA film award nominees represent a roster of high-caliber talent. Nominees in the Original Screenplay category Aaron Sorkin (“Being the Ricardos”), Adam McKay & David Sirota (“Don’t Look Up”), Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola & Hugo Guinness & Jason Schwartzman (“The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun”), Zach Baylin (“King Richard”), and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”). Adapted Screenplay nominees include Siân Heder (“CODA”), Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth (“Dune”), Guillermo del Toro & Kim Morgan (“Nightmare Alley”), Steven Levenson (“tick…tick…BOOM!”) and Tony Kushner (“West Side Story”).
“The pandemic has been stressful and challenging for everyone,” says WGA West president, Meredith Stiehm. “Many writers have been fortunate to be able to continue working because studios continued to need content. Like everyone else, writers are looking forward to getting back to work in full, and for TV writers, they’re looking to get back to the collaborative environment of the writer’s room, as well as being on set, and part of the post-production process.”
As the various guilds across the industry, as well as the Academy, continue to grow in robust and diverse ways, the WGA is always looking to the future when it comes to talent and leadership, with group solidarity seen as a driving force for progressive good.
Working alongside Stiehm is a dedicated team, including vice president Michele Mulroney, and secretary-treasurer Betsy Thomas. The 16 board members are: Liz Alper, Patti Carr, Rob Chavis, Adam Conover, Marjorie David, Travis Donnelly, Ashley Gable, Dante W. Harper, Eric Haywood, Deric A. Hughes, E. Nicholas Mariani, Zoe Marshall, Dailyn Rodriguez, David Slack, Patric M. Verrone, and Nicole Yorkin.
“We know that to make substantial gains, our members must be unified, and ready to fight if necessary. This membership has shown, over and over again, its willingness to stand together for what’s best for writers,” says Stiehm, who notes that the WGA’s campaign to align the interests of agents to that of the writers was successful, due to the unity of their membership.
“The momentum of that win will serve us well as we head towards the 2023 MBA negotiations,” she continues. “We intend to bring the same strength and resolve to our negotiations with the AMPTP that we demonstrated in the agency campaign.”
Without the sustained efforts of the WGA working so diligently on behalf of its members, especially given the explosion of premium content creators over a stunning array of streaming outlets, it would be very hard for anyone to have a firm grasp on how navigate the industry.
“The primary duty of the guild is to represent their members in collective bargaining with film and television producers, which ensures the benefits, compensation, and overall rights of motion picture, television, and digital media writers, and news writers,” says Stiehm. “We enforce the contracts we negotiate. The guild also advocates for public policies and legislation that advance and protect our members’ interests.”
Still, uncertainty persists and many talented writers working in film and television look to the WGA for support and assistance, especially when it comes to adequate profit sharing.
“Currently, the media companies that employ writers have gone all in on their streaming services, which could not exist without the content that guild members create,” says Stiehm. “They are taking these services direct to consumers around the globe and are poised to capture all the benefits of massive subscriber growth, while individual writers’ compensation and residuals take a hit. Writers must share in streaming’s upside.”