Ryan Martinez, formerly a staff writer on Netflix’s Manifest and a graduate of the Warner Bros Television Writers’ Workshop, is a Harvard grad, a lieutenant in the U.S. naval reserves, and a combat vet who served in the war in Afghanistan. But now he says he’s returning to active duty in the Navy this summer “just to pay the bills,” which is why he’s voting “Yes” to authorize a WGA strike.
Many other WGA members, including Everything Everywhere All at Once Oscar winner Daniel Kwan, are also speaking up on social media in support of the strike authorization vote, which begins Tuesday and runs through April 17.
Writers & Studios To Hold More Talks Over Next Two Weeks; Strike Authorization Vote Still Expected – Update
“I am voting YES because the state of the industry for lower and mid-levels is dire,” Martinez writes on #WGAStrong, one of the guild’s Twitter accounts. “Like many, the well dried up after my first staff job, even being a WB alum. And now I am going back onto active duty in the Navy just to pay the bills. It shouldn’t be this way.”
Martinez, a credited writer on three episodes of the Netflix series this season, told Deadline that working for Manifest creator Jeff Rake and his team “was a dream come true, but my husband and I are foster dads and we have a family to support. After a lot of work to finally get my start, it has been disheartening to see that maintaining a career is simply impossible under the current conditions.
“So, I’ve decided to go on active duty beginning this summer in order to ensure our family can ride this out. I’m hopeful that once there is a new contract, more opportunities will be available, and I can return to my writing career. But the state of the industry is dire. Lower and mid-level jobs have been disappearing. The rise of mini-rooms and auteur series where only one or two writers are credited in an entire season. And even when you are a credited writer, as a staff writer you do not receive a script fee.”
“Many writers these days, especially lower level, aren’t getting the opportunity to produce their episodes on set, which takes away a fundamental, foundational element of a writer’s skill set,” he said. “Real emphasis needs to be placed on lower-level writers in this negotiation because while all writers are being treated unfairly by studios continuing to rake in record profits and pay out executive bonuses, lower levels are being hurt profoundly because the jobs just aren’t there anymore for us.”
His views are shared by many other guild members who are urging a “Yes” vote on strike authorization.
“It’s all about writers getting a fair share,” writes Kwan, who won three Oscars last month, for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Motion Picture. “It’s about maintaining a healthy middle/working class of writers in our industry. It’s about showing our collective strength as new tech threatens to take away our leverage. Vote YES on strike authorization.”
“If you’re in the WGA, please vote yes on a strike authorization,” writes Kirk Rudell, whose many writing and producing credits include Will & Grace and American Dad! “No one wants to go on strike, but those of us who have been doing this a while have a hundred reasons why we may need to.”
“When voting opens on the 11th I’m voting YES,” wrote veteran comedy writer Susan Hurwitz Arneson. “Here’s a simple reason why. Prod budgets are up. Company profits are up. Writer pay’s DOWN. No movie or TV show exists if a writer doesn’t create something from nothing.”
In another tweet she wrote: “15 years in the biz & I was paid minimum to run a pre-green light room for a streamer. My income hasn’t increased as I’ve gained experience & added responsibilities. It’s decreased. This is happening to writers at every level. It needs to stop.”
“It’s important to remember that the writers are asking for <2% of these studios PROFITS,” writes Aaron Vaccaro, who was a staff writer on Mike & Molly. “They’ve saved more than that not having to pay for the Tendergreens lunches for writers’ rooms during the Zoom room era.”
Caroline Renard, a WGA captain and a writer on Secrets of Sulphur Springs, says she’s voting “Yes” because “This fight is also for pre-WGA members. At the rate we’re going, you won’t have a place to become the future screenwriters you want to be. You won’t be able to afford it. The studios aren’t paying us now, they definitely won’t be paying any of us including you.”
The companies, she wrote, “will only say yes to our demands when they understand the cost of saying no. Their current offer is basically what we already receive, will not address key issues. If conditions continue, a writing career will not be tenable for majority of middle-class writers.”
Minoti Vaishnav, whose TV writing credits include The Equalizer and True Lies, wrote that “Every day until April 11 I will post a reason why I’m voting YES on the WGA Strike Authorization Vote. Reason #1: Mini rooms where upper-level writers cost the same as a Story Editor. Studios love to exploit writers with 10+ years of experience and shut out new voices. No more!”
All of this comes as the WGA agreed to hold negotiations this week amid a previously planned two-week break. Talks are expected to ramp up in the two weeks starting April 17 ahead of the expiration of the contract May 1.
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