Thursday, May 11, 2023

Dear O'Abby: Can a journalist/novelist write for film and TV while the WGA is on strike?

Dear O'Abby,

A friend of mine who works in film and TV just contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing some screenwriting.  It's not something I've ever done before - I'm a journalist by trade and write novels under a pseudonym in my spare time - but is something I've always been interested in exploring.  

I'm very aware that the WGA is on strike and I'm pretty sure this is why my friend has approached me.  I'm not a guild member, but I support what the writers are striking for.  Would it be okay for me to write for film and/or TV while the guild is on strike?



Dear Unsure,

The short answer here is no.

I mean, you can, of course, but there will be implications that might damage your career forever.  

Basically, if you decide to go ahead and do some work in this area while the guild is on strike, you'd be considered a scab.  The WGA is a powerful union and if you cross the picket lines and do work for a studio or independent producer at this time, you're likely to get blacklisted.  The means you will never get the opportunity to join the union, even if you do manage to break into screenwriting at some later date.

In addition, if you're blacklisted, even if a studio wants to adapt one of your novels for the screen, the WGA might block that from happening.  Even if you write your novels under a pseudonym and use a different name for any screenwriting you might do..

So, my advice would be to say no to your friend and focus on your journalistic work and your novels for now.  Once the strike is over, you can reach out to your friend again and offer your services.  If  they were only interested while other writers were striking, then I think you know what kind of friend this is!

Hope that helps.

X O'Abby

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