We Talk to the Tarzan Writer About the WGA Strike

The writers of the WGA (Writers Association of America) have been on strike since May 2, in search of better working conditions and regulations for the use of artificial intelligence, which is increasingly involved in production. This strike is a reflection of the growing concern of screenwriters to protect their rights in an ever-evolving landscape.

In an exclusive interview with spoilers, Tab Murphyrenowned screenwriter of several projects of Disney, shared his perspective on the current state of the fight for screenwriters’ rights. According to murphythey are not close to reaching an agreement at this time. “This is my fourth strike in my career”said the artist, who believes that there will be no agreement until September.

What is going on between the WGA and the studios?

I’ve been doing this for a long time and this is my fourth strike in my career. Some strikes were short and we made do and moved on. In 1987 and in 2009, the two strikes lasted longer. In 1987 there were 153 days and in 2009 there were one hundred days. These longer strikes always occur at crucial moments, when the business model in hollywood is starting to change. There are a lot of uncertainties about how things will turn out and how we’re going to monetize certain things, and how writers are going to participate in that instead of being left out. So we’re at a crossroads in another one of those situations, and you mentioned, especially on television, how writers’ rooms are shrinking, how fewer writers are being invited into that process, and writers are no longer being invited on set. , which used to be the way that writers could go on set when their episode was being filmed, see how things were made, how they were carried out, and these writers would be the future showrunners of their own creations. That was the idea. Well, all of that has been removed. So the studios are shooting themselves in the foot, oddly enough, because they’re eliminating an opportunity to groom new showrunners for the next generation of writers who will create these shows.

What is the claim regarding artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence scares a lot of people. I mean, nobody knows how it will work, how it will look. We’ve seen examples of it, kind of rudimentary, you know, the AI ​​can’t write a good script right now. Obviously, they can’t write jokes and they can’t create original things. You can’t say “write me a great original action movie, go ahead!”. No, you have to put a lot of information into them and then they have something to work with and create. But eventually, the fear is that they’ll get better and better and better, and the writers wonder: where do we fit into that? Will it just be a tool that we use and the studio still have to pay us as writers, or will it be a studio tool where they end up paying us much less because the AI ​​is doing all the work? So it’s a touchy subject and a lot of people are talking about it.

Is the current situation very different from when you started writing?

When I started in the 1980s, there was a definite path to success that you could follow if you worked hard. You didn’t always achieve the kind of success you wanted, but there was a definite path. Did you know that the six studios were making all the movies that would be released each year. And they were making between 10 and 20 movies a year. And the most important thing is that they were developing 150 to 200 movies at any given time. So when you think about all that content they had, when you started out as a writer, there were a lot of opportunities to work, do rewrites and sell your own script in those days. They were willing to consider and open up to original material and original stories. You know, people forget that Star Wars it was an original story. Indiana Jones was an original story. Yes, you know, yes, you know, Marvel they were comics, but in those days no one paid attention to them. Marvel. AND Batman he was just taking his first steps with, you know, Batman of Tim Burtonjust to see, you know, because Tim he loved it, so there was a lot of opportunity for creative, inventive original material, original movies. Now, of course, that has completely changed almost 180 degrees. Now, if you don’t have an idea based on a book or a comic or a graphic novel or something, nobody wants to take a chance on original materials, there are very few opportunities these days. That is the difference. The other difference is that in those days, studios made all kinds of movies, comedies, action, horror, everything. There were all sorts of genres represented by a studio like paramount every year with the movies they released. Now the major studios have really turned their attention to sure bets, and what I mean by that is the big expensive movies of the last 10 years, which have all been superhero movies. But they don’t want to take any chances. So they tend to go back and just recycle a lot of the stories. And they’re not making a lot of movies that are now relegated to the independent world. You know, rom-coms and all sorts of other genres that the big studios aren’t producing those movies.

How are you doing in terms of reaching an agreement? How far apart are they?

I think we are very distant on all points. I mean, the companies didn’t even want to have a discussion about artificial intelligence, and we felt it was necessary. We don’t have to completely figure it out, but we need the studio to say that whatever way it is, you’re going to be a part of it. We will protect you because we need authentic voices. We still need human voices. It’s like the transition from 2D animation to CGI. When CGI came along, it was considered faster, cheaper. So a lot of artists working in 2D animation couldn’t make the switch, couldn’t adapt, and suddenly found themselves out of a job. I mean, you know, because overnight everyone adopted CGI because it cost less. And now, the writers are feeling that pressure. Studios, when looking to save money or cut costs, cut back on writers. They will only pay three writers instead of six or eight in the writers room. And that showrunner who used to have a writers room that he could trust and delegate work to, now he’s going to have to do everyone’s work, including writing, and he won’t get paid anymore. In fact, they will pay you less. That’s what’s happening. So you have a whole group of new writers coming up, when I started and broke through, I knew if I could find some success, if I could scale it up and reach a certain level, I could afford a house, raise a family. That was a reality back then, and what these new writers are facing now is that that’s no longer a guarantee. It’s no longer a guarantee and that’s not fair, because most other jobs in the world allow you, on some level, to have the security to buy a house and raise a family. That’s how it works, you know. So there are a lot of scared people out there, and a lot of writers working on hit shows right now have to work second jobs just to pay the rent. That’s bullshit. That’s bullshit.

When do you think they could reach an agreement?

It’s like what I said at the beginning when you asked, you know, the longest strikes always happen in times of insecurity and change in the business model that they’re used to, and that’s where we find ourselves. I think this is going to last a long time. There is one thing that could shorten it. In previous years, you know, the directors always got out of contract before the writers. Even when we went on strike, if the directors came to an agreement, we knew we were never going to get more than the directors got. That became a kind of template that led to an easy, if not necessarily happy, solution. This time, we first negotiated and denounced their misleading proposals, and then went on strike. Right now, the directors are in negotiations and if they denounce those proposals and go on strike… there is a lot of support for the strike, by the way. It’s not like other years where I’ve been to guild meetings where half the writers wanted to go on strike and the other half didn’t. They were yelling at each other, there was no unity. This time, 98% of the writers’ guild voted in favor of the strike. That is unity. The directors got behind it, the actors got behind it, the transportation crews got behind it. There is a lot of support. Even President Joe Biden He said companies need to do the right thing and pay writers. So there’s a lot of support out there. We’ll see what happens, but if it’s anything like the other two really significant strikes, I wouldn’t expect a deal or settlement before the end of the summer.

+Who is Tab Murphy

Tab Murphy is a historical screenwriter of Disneyknown for his work on the adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the early 90s. In addition, he has participated in projects such as tarzan, atlantissy Bear’s land. His experience and track record give him a unique perspective on the challenges facing writers in the entertainment industry today.