Friday, November 16, 2007

Screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson's Strike Story Notes!

Wow - I wish I had someone as cool as Phil Alden Robinson to submit posts to my rag-tag blog, but, since I don't - I gotta again say hats off to for doing amazing coverage of the strike. This letter really cracked me up. --JG

Screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson


Story Notes for Nick Counter

(Nick Counter and the AMPTP (The Media Moguls) paid for an expensive ad in yesterday's "Variety" -- for those of you who don't work in the industry, "Variety" is an entertainment business magazine that is in the pocket of the Media Moguls.

Since we don't have tons and tons of money like the Media Moguls do, we'll have to respond here - on the Internet - which they don't entirely own and control ( but they sure would like to).

Below, WGA member Phil Alden Robinson gives Nick Counter "story notes" on his advertisement and general "script".)

From: Story Department

To: Nick Counter

Dear Nick:

While we are still very excited about your project "Stonewall", we feel there are still some serious script problems that need to be addressed.

1) As every writer knows, the first rule of fiction is to at least SOUND believable. But you have a character saying dialog like "writers do receive residuals for digital downloading (regardless of whether the download is temporary or permanent)". Then why do you have the WGA character have to arbitrate to get what's already in the contract? Wouldn't the AMPTP character have more credibility if he just told the truth and did the right thing?

2) You also have a character say "the notion that we are not sharing new media revenue with writers is simply not correct." Wow. If that's what you want him to say, then we suggest you delete all the scenes in which entire episodes of TV shows - with COMMERCIALS - are streamed on the internet for millions of users, and the studios earn advertising revenue, but pay the writers nothing. This is a major logic problem with your script, and needs to be fixed.

3) Major typo: you've got a character saying "the Writers Guild is asking that writers get a percentage of what the Internet site owners receive in advertising revenue". But it's not. The WGA's proposal is for a percentage of "company's accountable receipts". It has nothing to do with Internet site owners.

4) In earlier pages (the Sunday night negotiation scene), you had the AMPTP character say that progress was being made, and then you have that character abruptly walk out of negotiations. We've asked you to fix that, but you still haven't made sense of it. This sort of behavior is usually reserved for the villain. Is that your intention for this character?

5) The WGA character keeps saying they're ready to return to the bargaining table, but you still haven't had the AMPTP character respond. Suggestion: why not have the AMPTP character call the WGA and return to the table? Along these lines, we suggest you put a pin in the 1st and 2nd act problems, and just concentrate on the ending.

In short, we still have high hopes for you, so please don't be discouraged. We're looking forward to the next set of pages.

Warmest regards,

Your friends in the Story Department.

p.s.: Aren't you glad we didn't give you a one-draft deal on this?