Los Angeles – What should a writer do if asked to leave written material after a pitch? A new outreach campaign, No Writing Left Behind, launched by the Writers Guild of America West, aims to educate members on the answer: Don’t do it.
“All writers need jobs, and especially when it’s early in their careers it can feel like they have to do whatever it takes to get hired,” said screenwriter and WGAW Board member Michele Mulroney. “But leaving behind a treatment for a producer or executive is the equivalent of writing for free. It opens the door to what can often be months of more free work like getting notes on the treatment and revising it multiple times. Guild rules do not allow for uncompensated work and members need to know that they simply don't have to give in to these requests.”
In a recent survey conducted by the Guild, screenwriters reported that after initial meetings they were frequently being asked by producers and executives to leave behind or submit via email written materials. This is referred to as prewriting because it is work created by a writer before being hired and can include outlines, notes, and treatments. Prewriting is essentially free work prior to employment and the push by producers and executives to have it submitted was cited in the survey as one of the most pressing issues screenwriters are facing.
“Everyone wants to be a pal, to be obliging. But this is a situation where helping out is hurting yourself and other writers,” said screenwriter and WGAW Board Member John August. “If you hand in your pages, you make it harder for every other screenwriter to say no when they’re asked. Things don’t change unless we all say no.”
To get the message across, the campaign is being communicated via video, on the web, and through social media. View the embeddable No Writing Left Behind video. Follow the NWLB campaign on Facebook and Twitter. #NoWritingLeftBehind #NoFreeWork. Download the NWLB logo here.
Note to reporters: Screenwriters John August and Michele Mulroney will be available today to answer your questions about the campaign. Please contact Gregg Mitchell, (323) 782-4651 to set up an interview.
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.