WGAW Launches Program to Curb Late Payments to Screenwriters
Guild leaders say they are hoping to change a "chronic problem" in Hollywood.
The Writers Guild of America West and its franchised agents are going after those who are late in paying screenwriters.
"The goal is to change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood. Initially, this program will be limited to delivery of literary material for features; if it’s a success we may broaden its application," said an announcement from WGAW President Chris Keyser and Executive Director David Young.
The pair said The Association of Talent Agents has agreed to notify the WGAW when screenwriters deliver literary materials. They add that screenwriters should have to wait no longer than seven days for payments to be received after they deliver their work.
"Once the Guild has received delivery information from an agent, the Guild will track whether the writer has been paid on time," the announcement read. "If the agency confirms that payment was made, no further action will be taken. If payment is late, a Guild representative will contact the Company to demand the payment, including accrued interest."
The entire announcement follows:
We are pleased to announce that the WGAW and its franchised agents, working together, are beginning a joint project to address the chronic problem of late payment to screenwriters. The goal is to change the culture of late pay that persists in Hollywood. Initially, this program will be limited to delivery of literary material for features; if it’s a success we may broaden its application.
Our signatory companies are obligated to pay writers on time. The MBA requires payment to the writer within seven days after delivery of literary material to the person identified in the writer’s contract. Because of this contractual requirement, writers should not have to wait for their paychecks for any reason.
The Association of Talent Agents (ATA) is working with the WGAW in requesting that the ATA members voluntarily provide notice to the Guild when screenwriters deliver their literary material to the Company. Agents will be able to choose among three methods to keep the Guild informed. An agent may copy the Guild on invoices, complete a Script Delivery Notice form that is available on the Guild’s website or email the Guild at a dedicated email address.
Once the Guild has received delivery information from an agent, the Guild will track whether the writer has been paid on time. If the agency confirms that payment was made, no further action will be taken. If payment is late, a Guild representative will contact the Company to demand the payment, including accrued interest.
Our intent with this initiative is to systematically track all theatrical script deliveries and payments, thereby eliminating the possibility that an individual member or agency can be singled out by employers. WGAW screenwriter members may opt out of this new program by specifically instructing their agents not to inform the Guild when they are paid late for delivery of literary material. However, we strongly urge all members to participate. When we stick together we have the greatest power to promote change and enforce timely payment.
We are grateful to our franchised agents for their partnership in this program. Systematic late pay is a violation of our contract and one of the key sources of discontent that you identified in the 2012 Screen Survey. With this initiative, we hope that we have taken an important step to make it a thing of the past.
(As always, if you have not been paid on time and would like to discuss a potential late pay claim, please call the WGAW’s Legal Department at (323) 782-4521 or visit the Guild’s website http://www.wga.org/ContactUs/LatePayContactUs.asp and complete the Late Pay form.)