Staff Writers to Receive Credit

(August 2000)

In response to requests from Guild members, the WGAw Board of Directors recently voted to allow staff writers on episodic series to receive onscreen credit on an experimental basis provided certain conditions are met.

Beginning with the fall season, companies can request a waiver from the Guild so staff writers can be accorded onscreen credit. The Guild will grant the waiver for one season so long as the company agrees that, if the writer is employed for a subsequent season(s) on the series, the writer will be hired under Article 14 of the MBA--for example, as a story editor. This requirement recognizes standard industry practices and will not increase the costs of the companies.

The waiver also will require that the "staff writer" credits be accorded on a separate card on which no more than four names appear.

If you or your clients have any questions please contact the Guild’s Credits Department at (323) 782-4528.

Canadian Waivers —What’s Commissionable, What’s Not

As you may know, the Writers Guild of America has an arrangement with the Writers Guild of Canada ("WGC") that allows WGA members to work for Canadian companies under certain conditions. This requires a waiver of Working Rule #8, which prohibits work for Companies that are not signatory to the WGA MBA.

In granting this waiver, the WGA requires the Canadian company, among other requirements, to be signatory to the WGC Agreement, and to pay the WGA member not less than the greater of the WGA Agreement and the WGC Agreement. This means the writer must always be paid not less than the WGA minimums for story and teleplay (which are generally in excess of WGC script fees), not less than the WGC Production Fee (which generally exceeds the WGA script fee), and not less than WGA residuals. In that case, the portion of the aggregate above WGA-MBA minimums can be applied as an advance against WGA-MBA residuals.

For example (these amounts are for illustration purposes only):

• If the WGA-MBA minimum initial compensation was $10,000, and the WGC Script fee was $8,000, the writer would have to be paid at least $10,000;

• If the WGA-MBA minimum initial compensation was $10,000, and if the WGC Production Fee and Script Fee together totaled $15,000;

The writer would have to be paid not less than $15,000;

$5,000 may be applied toward WGA-MBA residuals, so if the residual under the WGA-MBA was $8,000, the writer would be paid an additional $3,000.

Accordingly, in this example, the amount commissionable is $10,000. The Production Fee is an advance against residuals, and WGA-MBA minimum residuals are not subject to commission pursuant to Rider W, Paragraph 3 of the WGA Artists’ Manager Basic Agreement of 1976.

Please ensure compliance with this provision and call the Agency Department at 323/782-4502 if you have any questions.

What are Separation of Rights? Well, Now You Know!

The concepts and the rules regarding Separation of Rights have boggled even the greatest minds for years. The WGAw has tried to take the mystery out and tried to make them easier (never "simple") to understand in a handy pamphlet that’s yours for the asking by calling 323/782-4520. You can also look for it on the WGA website.

"What does ‘Created by’ credit mean?"

"How do I get my screenplay back if it’s not produced?""

"How are theatrical rights different from tv rights?"

Answers to these questions, and more, can be found in the pamphlet called "Understanding Separated Rights." Get yours today!