During an appearance on Midnight’s Edge’s Midnight’s Edge in the Morning, Script Doctor shared his thoughts.
He was asked by the show’s host Andre Einherjar, “Will there be less jobs for writers now when you have guaranteed writers room?”
Script Doctor responded, “Well, this is one of the things I didn’t like in regards to the guaranteed writers room because you have compelled hiring. But it looks like certain members in the union on the negotiating committee have turned that inside out a little bit for the benefit of writers that know how to finish script and maybe not push too much ideology in there. Don’t get me wrong there’s definitely some veteran writers out there that are drinking the Kool-Aid, but the vast majority of them, the ones that do preach this are younger. I’ve been learning through my colleagues that a lot of them have actually spent more time striking and spending time on social media than actually expanding their portfolio of scripts to pitch when the strike is over.”
After briefly comparing himself to his colleagues, he continued, “So basically what we are seeing here from the youngins is there’s going to be less, possibly less opportunities for them especially in something like the pre-greenlit or mini rooms. And that comes down to two factors that I can think of right now.
“The first one is that the current MBA clearly defines that a showrunner has to be a union writer,” he said. “So it can’t be an internal executive producer like a Kevin Feige. It also gives them a bit more power in to who they select for the writing positions in the minimum staffing mini rooms and it also says that whoever they select has to be approved by the company or the showrunner has to argue for them to be involved.”
“Now, with regards to those rooms, you have showrunners that would only– a real showrunner, a good showrunner is only going to hire writers that they are going to get value out of in their room. Which means that if you are diversity hire and that’s all you’ve got going on you are of no value to a showrunner which means you are not going to get your ‘guaranteed hire’ over there. And I think that’s a good thing,” Script Doctor elaborated.
As for his second point, he detailed, “The other aspect with regards to the contract pertaining to mini rooms is that the compelled hiring has now increased– the compelled hiring and the extended timeframe for which they have to work on the show, which is like the minimum of 10 weeks.”
He explained, “That essentially turns the mini room into something more expensive than the traditional model of developing a pilot, producing the pilot to be screened before an audience test to see whether or not it’s actually going to be good, and then giving it the greenlight to go into an actual series order. The mini room basically tries to force a hit show within a six episode, or eight episode, or ten episode structure, get it all written before any of it is filmed, and then push it out there.”
He then provided an example, “You can take a look at a pilot like Ahsoka and say to yourself, ‘Okay, that’s a show that was done in a mini room. It was done by one writer Dave Filoni. And if you put that through the pilot test there’s no way it would have been picked up for the remainder of the episodes.’ And that’s a good thing. You don’t want that.”
“So, right now, it looks like mini rooms are kind of being, for the moment, they’ll be kind of priced out on a budget side of things from the studios because it’s more lucrative and less risk for them to actually go back to shooting a pilot, testing it, and then determining whether it’s going to be given a series order as opposed to building a show in a limited amount of time and then just pumping it out for you to be stuck with it, and can’t control, develop, or change it based on audience reception,” he elaborated.