From artists getting asked to draw free portraits, to Stranger Things season 5 halting its production to give way to a writer’s strike, when will people learn that creatives deserve to get proper pay for their work?
“Wala namang pera diyan sa art” – Walang pera, kasi ayaw mo magbayad!
It’s been years, but it is not only the big corporations that fail to give creatives fair pay and recognition for their craft. From an editorial team getting laid off only to get replaced by a tool that is merely aimed to help ease their work and not replace them, to people thinking bible verses and prayers are enough to pay for a portrait commission, it is about time we all do better at appreciating the time and skill creatives pour into their work. Does it have to take for our favorite shows to halt production for us to realize the disparity between wages?
Even during the Met Gala, actors and personalities like Amanda Seyfried have been openly voicing their support for writers. When asked about the then-potential WGA strike by Variety, Amanda simply answered by saying, “everything changed with streaming and everybody needs to be compensated for their work it’s fucking easy.”
Amanda Seyfried on the potential WGA strike: "My writer friends think it's going to happen." #MetGala https://t.co/OcPy5cjK1f pic.twitter.com/zkMT2aIqZU
— Variety (@Variety) May 2, 2023
Now that the WGA or the Writers Guild of America strike is happening, various productions of shows across streaming platforms and networks have been affected. Among them are Cobra Kai, Yellowjackets, Daredevil, Billions, the new Game of Thrones prequel A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, and breaking headlines is the last and final season of Netflix hit Stranger Things.
The show creators of Stranger Things, the Duffer brothers even tweeted an announcement confirming the halt of their production in the meantime to show support to the strike and even using the official hashtag. “Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work.”
Duffers here. Writing does not stop when filming begins. While we’re excited to start production with our amazing cast and crew, it is not possible during this strike. We hope a fair deal is reached soon so we can all get back to work. Until then — over and out. #wgastrong
— stranger writers (@strangerwriters) May 6, 2023
Other creatives such as actors and directors also continue to show their support for the WGA. Among them is ‘Oppenheimer’ director Christopher Nolan and Jennifer Coolidge who acknowledge the WGA in her acceptance speech for a special ‘Comedic Genius Award’ during the recent MTV Movie and TV Awards.
In her speech, Coolidge said, “Almost all comedies start with great writers. As a proud member of SAG, I stand here tonight, side by side with my brothers and sisters from the WGA that are fighting right now. Fighting for the rights of artists everywhere.”
Jennifer Coolidge gave a heartfelt shoutout to the WGA writers on strike while accepting a special Comedic Genius award at last night’s MTV Movie & TV Awards pic.twitter.com/vSljSNXjuI
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 9, 2023
However, underappreciation of creatives does not only happen or stop in the US or Hollywood. Locally, a now-viral post of artist Chaboy Dela Cruz recounts an encounter he had with a lady that instead of paying for a portrait commission, sends him a bible verse and preached to him about money.
Thankfully, the two seemed to have settled things between them, with Chaboy agreeing to do a free portrait for her as his now-viral post about their interaction became viral and brought him more paying customers. In his follow-up post, Chaboy also clarified in his post that this was just his simple way of thanking the lady. “Hindi naman sa pangungunsinte, pero pagbigyan na natin.” he wrote. “Since nag-viral yung post, dumami talaga kliyente ko, so it benefits me!” he added.
He also said that despite her approach not being the best at first, he was just trying to repay her kindness as many did write negative comments against her, but she didn’t take it out on him. A simple free drawing for that was not a big cost for him.
But not all creatives get to have these pleasant endings.
What is the WGA striking for?
A Twitter thread by user @sapphicjopper explains why the strike is so important.
The first thing they listed as a major reason the WGA is striking is the streaming residuals. They explained that streaming residuals are the money paid for the streams. In this case, streaming platforms use fixed residuals that are not tied to viewership. They then cited a tweet by Jane the Virgin writer Valentina Garza who shared that she only made three cents off of two episodes of the series.
In case anyone’s wondering why the WGA is on strike, this is my streaming residual check for two episodes of Jane the Virgin. One for .01 another for .02. I think the streamers can do better. #WGAStrike #WGAStrong pic.twitter.com/IQYeLvZGrk
— Valentina Garza (@totalvaligirl) May 4, 2023
Among the other reasons apart from fair pay, are higher compensation and benefits such as better pension plans and health benefits, a push for not even the elimination of but only the regulation of AI, and the elimination of “mini rooms“.
A variety of programs we all enjoy to this day would not even be here if it weren’t for the writers. However, they are still among the, if not the lowest-paid creatives in a production.
As many have mentioned prior, it takes a village to create a masterpiece. Like a machine with cogs, each has its own specific use to make the machine work. May it be movies, tv shows, stage plays, or broadcast programs and everyone working on the set deserves to get a fair wage and appreciation for their craft. It takes hours upon hours to think, rethink, and create something.
Creatives do hard work to provide everybody with quality art, it shouldn’t be that hard to reciprocate with just appreciation and compensation.
banner: (L) stranger news/twitter, (R) @jessicaaphan/twitter