Okay, we’re now officially on WordPress, which I like sooooo much more than Movable Type.
This isn’t our permanent look by any means. I’m just using this as a default look until the custom job is done.
In the meantime, you will have to register (yet again, sorry) in order to comment. Registration is now internal to our site. All of your information will be kept private, and I have no access to passwords.
Please note two new features.
First, “live comment previewing.” As you type your comment, you can see a live preview of it generated right below your comment.
Second, you should now be able to edit your own comments within 15 minutes of publishing them.
Thanks for bearing with me as I’ve tried (and continue to try) to revamp our site to make it more user-friendly.
We wrapped principal photography on Tuesday.
For those directors out there who shoot these gargantuan, 100 day and more schedules, all I can say is…I’m in awe. Because after 48 days, I was ready to collapse.
The last moments were a bit of a blur, but I know a lot of our crew reads the blog, so I wanted to use this post to say THANK YOU.
Thank you Dave and Tom and Kim and Alan and Dave and Linda and Mychael and Doug and Rupert and Jessie and Mike and Michael and Scott and Jimmy and Leo and Charlie and Billy and Mikey and Carol and Ellen and Joyce and Steve and Michelle and Janeen and Lori and Mark and Keith and Lloyd and Chodo and Chris and Joe and Bob and Jim and Jill and Wilma and Jacq and Adam and Mary and Andrew and Audrey and Ozzie and Lilly and Randy and Tommy and Rob and Alan…
Those are just the names off the top of my head (one of the challenges of directing is that you have to learn a lot of names, and quickly). I thank everyone who worked on the film. Everyone.
Now, a little about the possessory credit.
Before I shot this movie, I hated the “film by” credit. I haaaaaated it. Some director friends told me that actually doing the job would make me change my mind.
They were right.
I now hate that credit even more.
I also want to acknowledge my wonderful cast, who all went above and beyond for me, and showed me great patience while they did it. Drake, Sara, Christopher, Leslie, Marion, Ryan, Kevin, Brent, Jeffrey, Kurt, Dan, John, Rod, Steve and everyone else, from background to star…you were all wonderful to me, and I’m in your debt.
Now the editing begins. Life returns somewhat to normal.
I say “somewhat,” because I spent my first post-shoot day picketing in front of Warner Brothers, but it’s more normal than shooting, at least.
Thanks for bearing with me during my distracted months. I simply didn’t have the ability to monitor the comment discussions the way I like, and things got progressively uglier in there, particularly after the strike. I don’t intend to let that continue. Let’s debate without being personal or cruel (and for my part in the tit-for-tat wars, I genuinely apologize).
It’s a new day.
And new software is coming, I swear.
With a new template!
Reminds me…gotta go bug my web genius…
Hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving.
I really really really hope that the Verrones and the Counters and the Youngs and the Chernins and the Bowmans and the Meyers had a pleasant Thanksgiving.
They’re all back in the room tomorrow.
And there are rumors.
Hollywood rumors occasionally come on like seizures, grabbing everyone’s attention and shaking them around. More frequently, they emerge like one of Kant’s synthetic a priori judgments–supposedly unquestionably true, and yet not by way of reason or analysis. People suddenly just know stuff, and they don’t know why, but they sure as hell believe it.
Gotta love this town.
There’s a rumor out there now that Monday’s meeting is almost pro forma. The rumor says that the basic deal structure has been agreed upon, the next few days are about hammering out the devillish details, but whatever that magic number is…it’s been found.
Tempting to believe.
So tempting…that I believe it.
But first, some baseball news.
I was reading about Johan Santana today (for those of you who don’t follow the sport, he’s pretty much the best pitcher in the game…and a lefty to boot). The Twins have him under a cheap contract for one more year.
If they keep him for that year, he becomes a free agent…and leaves them, because they can’t afford to pay him what he’s worth on the open market.
If they trade him now, they lose him for one year but stand to gain some tremendous players in return.
Easy choice. They have to trade him.
Here’s where the game theory kicks in. They can’t trade him for scrubs. They need great players. So it would seem they have all the leverage. On the other hand, the teams they’re dealing with know all too well that the Twins have to trade him, or they end up with nothing…and those teams would then still have a shot at Santana on the open market.
So the Twins need to be strong but reasonable, and the opposing teams need to be strong but reasonable.
Right now, our situation makes the Santana trade look like child’s play, but still…we have some balance, and that’s what matters. Neither side can crush the other (despite infantile proclamations to the contrary from both the union and the companies). The companies know that their current offer is a non-starter in a general sense. By now, they’ve heard as much, I presume, from the DGA.
Either they dared us to strike to see if we had the balls (dumb, because their deal was so ridiculous, who would possibly agree to take it?), or they forced us to strike in order to….
…well, hell, Nick Counter, buy me a drink one day and explain that to me if it’s the case. It certainly seemed like the AMPTP forced a strike, but to what end?
Regardless, the balance in the equation may be forcing a compromise. We’re costing them money. We’re costing ourselves money. They have the DGA they can bargain with…but they still have to bargain with them.
If the rumors are correct, there’s enough impetus to get the AMPTP back to finding the magic number.
So let’s start defining “victory.”
To me, victory doesn’t have to include any DVD increase (and given that we already gave that one up before ungiving it up, don’t expect it folks…and yes, I’ve spoken with a number of writers who honestly believe that we’ll get one). It doesn’t have to include any jurisdictional gains, nor does it have to include anything at all regarding product integration.
Victory requires the following.
Pretty muddy, I grant you. For instance, what if the companies promise a good residual rate, but insist on that rollback for separated stage dramatization rights? I’ll let other people chew on those. Similarly, what’s reasonable for #3? And how much better than is truly better than? .31% ain’t enough. 2.5% won’t happen either.
Perhaps, if the rumors are correct, those are the things left to discuss. They’re big things.
But if we’ve gotten past some of the major stumbling blocks and boiled it down to the serious stuff at hand…and more importantly, if the AMPTP is ready to acknowledge certain basic realities…then we might be back to work soon.
Before I go, there are two other matters to discuss.
First, attorney Jonathan Handel has written a fantastic primer on our residuals rates and the true numbers involved. Surprise, surprise…the whole “four more cents!” thing is reductive sloganeering with little bearing on the actual economic issues here…and yet…as Handel argues convincingly, we deserve more nonetheless.
I strongly recommend you read his essay. You can’t fit it on a picket sign, but it’s a whole lot more convincing than anything beginning with “Hey hey, ho ho!”
Secondly, I’ve received a number of emails all posing variants of the following question.
“I’m not a member of the WGA yet, and I’m wondering how the strike affects me. Can I sell material to or work for signatory companies? Is there any rule preventing me from doing that?”
Here’s my answer to all of you who’ve asked.
I’m not telling you.
I’m not telling you because I’m basically here to try and help writers and empower writers, and while I love truth and accuracy, I’m not obligated to write down how-to manuals for scabbing.
So here’s the answer I’ll give instead.
Regardless of the rules, regulations, laws, court decisions and anything else prevailing either for or against you, if you sell material to or make writing deals with signatory companies while the WGA is on strike, then you’re an asshole.
You’re an asshole because you’re undercutting, you’re an asshole because you’re exploiting opportunities made possible by people who are trying to better everyone’s circumstances, and you’re an asshole because…well…
…I’ll go back to a synthetic a priori judgment. You just are.
Good enough for Kant, good enough for me.
Aggh, one more thing (“Our three weapons are…!”).
Totally redoing it. I’ve decided that MovableType 4, while better than 3, is still inferior to WordPress. So I’m switching over to WordPress, and I’m redesiging the look of the whole thing while I’m at it.
Hopefully it will be done before the end of the year.
Some good news…commenting will be much more user-friendly. Specifically, you’ll be able to live preview your comments as you type them, and you’ll also be able to EDIT them (cue the angelic chorus) for 15 minutes following the initial submission.
I’m going to try and make the whole site feel cleaner and simpler, with a few Web 2.0 perks thrown in (like super-easy icons to refer articles to social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit).
Alas, I think the quill is going bye-bye. I liked it, it served us well, but progress demands that we pave that sucker over and build something new. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.
Then I’m sorry…and thank you.
I’ve been deluged lately, and with the last few days of production still left to go, I just haven’t had a chance to respond to everyone the way I normally do.
I’ve gotten a ton of email in the past week or so, all of it very kind and supportive, and I thank each of you for taking the time. I feel like a jerk for not responding individually, and once I get my life back, I promise to get better about that.
If you sent me a link to a blog article, MSM article or YouTube video, I also thank you. I’m trying to read and watch everything when I get a chance.
More to come in a few days. I’m trying to get the Guild to clarify their position on location striking, which is a hot topic among my writer friends (and the source of some confusion and disparate understandings). No answer yet. Hope to hear back soon.
I’ll leave you with this. Got sent the link by Ask A Ninja, which is one of the few actual, honest-to-goodness funny websites out there.
I want to be part of the Dragon Claw Fire Horde.
As you can see, we’re still working on getting our formatting back, but in the meantime, I thought I’d catch up with all of you.
It used to be that folks would come here to catch up, I suppose, but you’re all ahead of me now. I go off and work a few 15 hour days in a row, and before I know it, everyone’s on top of everything.
You’ve read all the letters from Verrone, you know the WGA and AMPTP are back at the table on Monday, you followed the tit-for-tat wars between Tommy Short and Verrone (and between Ellen, AFTRA and couldn’t-get-anything-right-if-her-life-depended-on-it Mona Mangan), you know that Carlton Cuse is returning to work on the very same day…
So, what’s it all mean?
There’s an enormous amount of noise out there, literally and figuratively. Picking through it to get the signal is the tricky part.
For instance, the AMPTP runs an ad proclaiming that they are, in fact, paying us for internet downloads.
Signal? They’re paying us at a rate we don’t accept and have explicitly rejected as insufficient, and there’s an entire category of internet exhibition (advertising-supporting streaming) they don’t want to pay us for at all.
Meanwhile, Patric Verrone tells a crowd that we’re “kicking corporate ass” while David Young muses openly to the press about “all the havoc” he’s wreaked.
Signal? The Big Five congloms’ asses are still quite unkicked, and David Young needs to start talking publicly like the responsible, pragmatic guy into whom a lot of insiders are telling me he’s blossomed.
Tommy Short, the autocratic head of IATSE, complains that Patric is strike-happy and needs to grow the hell up before more IA members lose their jobs.
Signal? Yes, when writers strike, bad things happen. Duh. Production slowing down is obviously one of them. I’m pretty sure that if IATSE ever struck (which will happen in, oh, about a month after never), then writers would suffer too, as development would slow, production payments would cease, and showrunners would go dark. Putting aside whether or not Patrick is strike-happy, it’s absurdly unfair of Tommy to insist that the WGA shouldn’t strike for fear of hurting IA members. This is the guy who hung a rollback around the necks of the Teamsters. It’s his favorite move. He’s a blame shifter.
Speaking of the Teamsters, their decision to encourage their members to individually decide not to cross the picket lines has given our strike a major boost.
Signal? I’ve been talking to some captains, a lot of picketers, a bunch of guys in Local 399 and some people on the inside at the WGA. The Teamsters have been crossing, and I haven’t heard about any shows, lots or production companies negatively impacted in any serious way by Teamster support. I can’t blame the Teamsters here. They’re working men and women under contract, and while the announcement of support from 399′s leadership was a great PR coup (I sure fell for it), PR doesn’t put food on the table. The drivers keep on driving.
Then there’s the issue of the showrunners. They banded together and most of them walked off their writing jobs and their producing jobs (which generally pay them the bulk of their income). Their resistance would lead to a short strike.
Signal? They have to go back to work. They have to. The fact that they did what they did was individually brave and commendable, but collectively, it was a high risk/low gain strategy. Shutting down post earlier than normal maybe stole back a few more weeks of episodes than a simple cessation of writing would have, but ultimately, they can’t all end up in breach. Furthermore, whenever we can mitigate collateral damage to other working people (particularly unionized ones like crew), we ought to. I’m happy that Cuse is going back to work, and I’ve spoken with a showrunner who believes quite a few more will return now that negotiations seem to be percolating again.
Speaking of which…
Let’s see. Depending on which strain of rabies you have, this next round of negotiations is either:
a) evidence that our strike has dealt a terrible blow to the companies
b) a trap in which the all-powerful AMPTP crushes the rebellion and blows the bejeezus out of Yavin IV.
But you know me…
…I’ll go with neither.
There’s a decent probability that some vague structure of a deal already exists. It may be emerging from back-channels between WGA moderates and AMPTP moderates, or it may be forming out of discussions between the DGA and the AMPTP.
But is it a good structure?
Can either side afford a compromise at this point?
Sure. Both sides have to be aware of the truth of their leverage. Ignore the chanting and the ranting from the rabid extremes on both sides, focus on the inevitable compromises both sides must make, and we could have a deal in hand before Christmas.
Okay. The custom templates aren’t back yet, but they’re on their way. Meanwhile, the comment system appears to be working.
When you go to sign in, if you’ve registered your ID with TypeKey, then make sure you select TypePad as your method of login (I made that mistake for a while…didn’t realize I couldn’t just put my name and password in and hit return…I had to hit the TypeKey thingy on the right side of the login entry area). If you haven’t yet registered your ID with TypeKey, please do so.
Use this thread as a place to test your name and start commenting. As always, you can still be as anonymous as you choose, and I do not moderate comments before they are published.
Thanks for your patience.
Sometimes running a blog is SO MUCH FUN!
As you all know, comments are down. We’re working on it. When the changes are done, you’ll have to register with a handle of your choosing (so Anonymous or Anonymous 2 or anthing you want is fine…you just can’t pretend to be someone else, etc.).
Meanwhile, until we fix all this, if you try and comment right now you’re going to get an error message about comment approval, etc.
Here’s a lovely note I received today.
It’s your site. Which means it isn’t censorship.
But you set up a forum that encouraged debate and comment.
And now you have to approve those comments?
Go fuck yourself.
And shove that piece of shit script for Scary Movie 3 up your ass, if it’ll fit with your head in there.
Aw, what a lovely human being!
Glad you’re enjoying the site!
For the rest of you, just to be clear, the new system will NOT involve me or anyone else approving comments prior to publication. Nothing will be different except the handle registration (which isn’t through my site, but through Movable Type’s site), so that fake Priyas and fifteen different people with the name “Anonymous” aren’t confusing the discussions.
Once we fix it, everyone will be able to tell me to shove my scripts up my ass again. Hooray!
This video was apparently made by a striking writer.
Perfectly done. The WGA should get this up on their site immediately.
I was planning on a rebuttal to Michael Eisner’s comments about how this strike is “stupid” because it’s about revenue that isn’t real, but this video pretty much blows that argument out of the water–and the brilliant part is that it does it with the CEO’s own words.
Anonymous creator of this video, great job. If you’re out there reading, email me so I can congratulate you.
Ed. Note: Still working on implementing this. Comments will be back soon. Bear with me.
New Note: Should be working now. If you registered for TypeKey but were having trouble, clear your cache, log out and back in, and it should work now. I hope.
You can still comment anonymously.
However, with the amount of comments we’ve been getting, two problems have emerged.
First, there are many different people all calling themselves “anonymous” or “anon,” and it’s confusing.
Second, people are starting to spoof each other’s names.
Happily, there’s a simple answer.
In order to comment now, you must “sign in.” The prompt to sign in is down where the comment box used to be (if you still see the comment text box, then reload your page until it goes away…you might have to empty your browser cache as well).
Follow the sign in link, which will take to a TypeKey login page.
TypeKey is a free registration service connected to the Movable Type blog platform. Signing up for an account is free. I do not receive any of the information you enter into the registration, nor do I receive any compensation or consideration.
By registering a unique handle for yourself, you can own your name and ID while commenting here without fear of counterfeiting.
I apologize for the brief inconvenience, but it should be worth it in the long run. If your cookies are set properly, the system remembers you for two weeks at a time, so re-logins should be infrequent.
If you’re having issues with registering for comments, then go to the Forum and post your question in the Feedback section. Hopefully we can help you figure it out. It’s pretty easy.
It’s quite likely that a union can successfully wage a strike and still not convince a single damned person that what they’re doing makes sense. It’s not like these things are decided by popular vote.
On the other hand, the companies we’re fighting are notoriously sensitive to bad press. Sure, they are the press, but if we can do a good job of convincing people that our cause is just, it can only help.
Since the union struck, I’ve seen some explanations about why we’re fighting.
Some are good (nice job, WGA).
Some are super duper bad (ironically, you have to sit through a commercial to get to this streaming video…but gee, no one makes money off the internet!)
What’s missing, however, is a compelling reason for residuals that anyone, including your deaf aunt, can understand.
John August has a piece running on this tomorrow, and it’s a good one. He stresses why residuals are good things…citing what I call the “Marc Cherry” rule, i.e. residuals can keep writers afloat during the lean times, allowing them to stay in the business, support their families, and stick around long enough to create a huge hit that sends boatloads of profit to the companies.
But even if no one needed residuals, we should still get them.
I hear this complaint quite a bit these days: “I don’t have to pay the architect every time I walk into a building” or “I don’t have to pay my plumber every time I use the sink he fixed.”
But authors of movies (and I consider the authors to be the screenwriters and directors) create something quite different than “blueprints for a single building” or “fixed sink.”
Imagine two guys. One guy writes terrific recipes. The other guy is a fantastic baker. Together, they create a magic cake.
Bear with me.
What’s special about the cake is that you can cut a slice from it, and a new slice will just grow back in its place.
You keep cutting it and serving it, and you never run out of that cake.
Wal-Mart decides to start selling slices of this cake.
They pay the two guys a good amount for the cake, as far as that sort of thing goes. Maybe a hundred bucks.
But Wal-Mart sells each slice for three bucks, and they keep selling them and selling them.
Over and over.
Millions of slices of the same damned single cake.
Shouldn’t the two guys get some small amount of money back on each sale? Maybe four cents?
But definitely something?
Movies are a special class of intellectual property. Like music or novels, they can be endlessly reproduced and sold in millions of multiples. One movie can be sold and resold and repackaged and redistributed and rebroadcast and redownloaded and reprojected over and over and over…
If the seller can endlessly exploit this single, unique product, shouldn’t the true authors of that work share in each endless exploitation?
A plumber can only fix your sink once.
An architect’s building is built once.
But not a movie. Not a television show.
So if someone asks you why we deserve to get paid each time someone buys a copy of a movie, tell them about the magic cake.
If they slap you because your analogies are tortured and weird, I apologize in advance.