I have been a proud WGA member for virtually the entirety of my adult life working in both film and television. Until April 13th, I had literary representation for an even longer period, spending four years with a boutique agency, followed by eleven years at one of the so-called “Big 4”. What that means is that I have seen firsthand the necessity for agents’ interests to be aligned with writers’ and the dangers incurred when that relationship is distorted. It is why I was grateful and optimistic over a year ago when our current leadership began a conversation about how to correct this.
However, I have gradually become convinced that though this is unequivocally the right fight, it is being fought the wrong way.
As David Goodman said, “The problem leadership identified has not gotten better — it has gotten worse.The fundamental goal of this campaign is to maximize writer income — not primarily for the most successful among us, but for our middle class.” I agree; but, as we approach the beginning of our fifth month of this campaign, we are farther than ever from achieving that fundamental goal.
Four months ago, agencies profited from packaging fees and ran affiliate production companies while providing literary representation services to their clients. Four months later, agencies still profit from packaging fees, they still run affiliate production companies and the only difference is that 7,000 some odd writers now no longer have access to their services — many shut out of agencies who never even engaged in these practices in the first place. The current leadership says this means we are winning. I disagree.
Let me be clear. The action current leadership has taken, much to their credit, has shown our unified determination to fix the problem of conflicted agency practices and given us extraordinary leverage to secure a deal that benefits not only membership at large, but especially the most vulnerable writers among us.
I want to win this fight, but we cannot win a game we refuse to play.
And make no mistake this is not a contest we can afford to forfeit. We cannot afford to forfeit access to the largest talent agencies on earth, which provide writers the connective tissue between the worlds, characters and stories they create and the actors, directors and producers who can help bring those words to life. We cannot afford to forfeit the benefits provided by effective representation. We cannot afford to forfeit our hard won position in television and that is precisely what is about to happen. The agencies are already reshaping the packaging fee structure to revolve around movie stars, filmmakers and IP. Who among us wishes to see the television business, for writers, more closely resemble what the feature business has already become? Certainly not me.
Perhaps most importantly, we cannot afford to forfeit our sense of unity and shared purpose in the run up to the even more critical AMPTP talks that lie before us. The longer this fight goes on without an endgame in sight, the weaker we will be come spring for the very real battle ahead.
This is a moment of tremendous opportunity for our guild, but also one of great peril. We have an opportunity within our grasp to reform the relationship between us and our agencies once and for all, to fully and fundamentally align their interests with our own. We have an opportunity to consolidate those gains and work together to forge a new MBA that does for the next generation of writers in the streaming era what the 1960 MBA did when it secured our membership what was then unheard of — residuals in the then-nascent narrative medium of television.
With fresh leadership, committed to reopening negotiations with the ATA as a starting point, I believe we can do all those things. It’s why I’m asking for you to vote MARC GUGGENHEIM, NICHOLAS KAZAN, COURTNEY KEMP, ASHLEY EDWARD MILLER, RASHEED NEWSON, SARAH TREEM, and AYELET WALDMAN for the Board alongside me; and to vote PHYLIS NAGY for President, CRAIG MAZIN for Vice-President and NICK JONES, JR. for SECRETARY-TREASURER, respectively.
The reason why I am running, quite simply, is because I love what we do and I want us all, at every economic strata of our membership, to afford to be able to do it. It is why I am asking you to give me the privilege to serve and be your advocate for the next two years.
Thanks for taking the time to read this statement and I look forward to meeting and interacting with as many of my fellow members as is possible in the days and weeks ahead.
— Jason Fuchs