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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Afternoon on the Line

So I had decided, and so I did. If you go to that second link, you will see the video player on the side of the page. The second video (picture of Katherine Heigle) has the reporter positioned outside of Fox Studios on Pico and Motor. If you look carefully, you can see me in the background crossing the street as I picket the entrance to the studio. You can see me a bit at the beginning, and better during the closing wrap up by the reporter. I am wearing shorts and a red Hawaiian shirt. (By the way, I don't know how long the video stays up attached to that story, so if you read this post in the future, you may have to take my word for it.)

Anyway, yeah, I walked the picket lines at Fox Studios this afternoon. Let me tell you a few of the things that happened, and some of my feelings.

-- First of all, the emotions seem really positive. Most of the people I spoke with were happy to be there, and had a generally cheerful attitude. Many people brought food and treats by, and there were different drinks donated by various places. Overall, there was a sense of comaraderie about the line. When people found out that I had joined them, despite not being a WGA member, they were universally thankful. I paid that thanks forward by thanking the various SAG members that were joining us. While I did it because I am thankful for WGA members who will hopefully win benefits that I will enjoy in the future, the SAG members will never gain anything from our contract. So I appreciated their solidarity even more.

-- There was not a lot of chanting going on at Fox. Most of the cheers and efforts went to getting cars on the street to honk their horns in support, and at times there was a lot of honking. Loud and long. If you drive past picketers, and you do support us, please honk. It seems silly, but it really does give a boost.

-- On the topic of honking, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. Almost without fail, every single Prius driver honked at us! Now, to be fair, there were plenty of people driving Mercedes, BMWs and Audis honking as well, and plenty of people in suits who honked support. There were even people who seemed to work for Fox and who honked as they were driving off the lot. So I don't want you to think I'm saying there is only one demographic of car driver who supported us, or that all the luxury car drivers were anti the strike. But it was remarkable how nearly universal that Prius effect was.

-- A few favorite slogans of the day. Simple but potent, a sign that said, "Reruns Suck." A horn-honker driving past leaned towards his open window and shouted to me, "Blank Page, Blank Stage!" A young woman walking the line with us, wearing overalls and fluffy slippers (perhaps with Simpsons characters on them?) held a sign that read, "Desperate Housewife."

-- I spoke with a few people who had been a part of the strikes in '88 and '85. The feeling that this one was much more unified and organized. The Internet (you know that thing they don't want to pay us for) plays a big part in this, as does a much larger union membership.

-- I have no idea if this is representative of union membership, but while there were large numbers of both males and females represented, I noticed there was almost not a single person of color on the line. Does anyone know the approximate percentage of the WGA that is non-White?

-- I had been planning to take some pictures to show y'all, but my camera is having problems, so that didn't work. But I did meet some cool people, both pros and others like myself. I had some nice conversations with working writers from both TV and features, including Matt Stone (not the South Park Matt Stone), Scott Wiper, and writers from House, King of the Hill, My Name is Earl and others. I did not speak to him, but I'm 99.9% sure it was Steve Zaillian who I saw on the line all afternoon. I also had a really nice conversation with Joe Siegman, a retired (I believe) writer/producer (he joked that he was striking against himself) who did a bunch of TV in the 70s. Mostly stand-up comedy shows and what he referred to as "junk shows" -- precursors to reality TV with celebrity challenges, such as Celebrity Bowling. And I also had the pleasure of running into someone I knew already, David Sacks, who has written on a number of big sitcoms, and currently has a show prepping to air on Comedy Central. My final meet-up of the day was also the most coincidental. A writer on Kyle XY overheard me talking to someone else, and it turns out that we grew up in the same town in NJ, only a few blocks away from each other!

-- One of the first people I met was another guy who was much in the same boat as me. His name is Josh, and he is also not a guild member. He's done one film (I believe it was a Sci-Fi Original, horror type film) and has been making his forward progress in his career, like I have. It was nice to have someone else in a similar situation, and be able to compare notes about hwo this may or may not affect us.

Okay, so I will again encourage all of you, if you support the WGA, to join the picket lines, even if you aren't a guild member. I will likely be back again, maybe tomorrow afternoon, maybe Friday morning. And if you would like to join me, let me know. Plus, I may see about joining a line in NYC while I am there.

On a side (but related) note, I want to direct your attention to THIS POST by my friend Bill Cunningham. In it he begins a grass roots campaign to call the studios' bluff on how "insignificant" Internet really is. He suggests we vow to not watch any TV streamed over the Internet until the strike ends. I would add that if we avoid watching movies, renting DVDs, etc. we would make the point even more strongly. I know that's difficult though -- I'm just saying...

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Blogger Lucy said...

"if you read this post in the future, you may have to take my word for it"

Love the notion that there are people out there who will look back in time at this and at your blog, never thought of it that way - it makes me see my blog as something "frozen in time", a snapshot into the past as it were. Interesting.

Never been on a picket line but been on lots of demos Joel, good on you.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Hoping to make it over to Fox at lunch today and (if I'm brave enough) during work hours tomorrow morning.

I'm not a WGA member, not even a paid writer (yet), but it just feels wrong working while other writers are sacrificing for my future.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I'll second you observation about a lack of diversity on the lines - I noticed the same thing at Sony the other day.

You going to be at the big rally at Fox tomorrow?

8:58 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

I do not think I will be making it out today at all, unfortunately. But I do hope to make it tomorrow morning to be at the big Fox show of support.

If anyone else plans to be there as well, let me know, and/or look for me (I do resemble my picture up above)!

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you happen to know what the name was of that Kyle Xy writer? I love the show and was just curious. That was quite the coincidence. :)

5:43 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Anon -- sorry, I can't recall.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Rhys said...

Awesome, Joel! Wish I could be there.

Great point about the Internet--what's bringing about the whole division in the first place--being the very thing to make unification in this possible. Oh the irony. :)

8:02 AM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

If I were there, I would honk from my Prius!

Best of luck on your next trip!

2:04 AM  

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