Write On http://www.wgaeast.org/blog Blog of the Writers Guild of America, East. By writers, for writers Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:40:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Sentinel Awards to Honor Entertainment That Gives Voice to Topics of Health and Climate Change http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/sentinel-awards-to-honor-entertainment-that-gives-voice-to-topics-of-health-and-climate-change/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/sentinel-awards-to-honor-entertainment-that-gives-voice-to-topics-of-health-and-climate-change/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:39:06 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1244 sentinal By Armine Kourouyan Writers and producers are now eligible to submit entries for the annual Sentinel Awards, which since 1999 have honored TV shows and movies that inform, educate and motivate viewers to make choices for healthier and safer lives.

The awards are sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented by Hollywood, Health & Society, a program of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center.

This year, storylines will be recognized in the following categories: Drama, Comedy, Serial Drama, Climate Change, Reality/Talk/Documentary, Children’s Programming and Spanish-language.

“TV writers and producers not only entertain audiences, but they affect them as well,” said Martin Kaplan, director of The Norman Lear Center. “We know this both from our research, and from stories that viewers tell. This award recognizes the responsible and creative use of that power by television writers and producers.”

Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society, added that “writers know that accurate and realistic portrayals make for more compelling stories. They contact us because they know we will provide them with information and access to credible experts—fast and for free. We work with dozens of shows across all genres, networks and cable channels on just about any health or climate change topic you can imagine.”

The 2014 winners will be selected through two rounds of judging. Subject matter experts from the CDC and other partner organizations will review entries for accuracy. Judges from entertainment and public health organizations will review finalists in each category for entertainment value and benefit to the viewing audience to determine the winners. The deadline for this year’s entries is May 30, and information for applicants can be found at http://bit.ly/1jNSRfM.

Last year, the Lifetime movie Call Me Crazy: A Five Film received first place in the Primetime Drama (Major Storyline) category for its portrayals of people dealing with mental illness. The ABC hit series Grey’s Anatomy won in the Primetime Drama (Minor Storyline) category for an episode involving a homeless patient whose drinking obscures a serious condition. Enlightened, a TV series on HBO, won in the Primetime Comedy category for a storyline on alcoholism and rehabilitation, and Doc McStuffins on the Disney Junior channel won in the Children’s programming category on the topic of sun exposure.

The first place award for Daytime Drama went to Days of Our Lives for a storyline on Alzheimer’s, and the HBO movie Mary and Martha took top honors in the Global Health category for its story about two women who turn their personal grief into a call for action against malaria in Africa. Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) won in the Climate Change category for a compilation of the show’s interviews on global warming. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel (HBO) was the inaugural winner in a new Sentinel category, Reality, for the topic of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Funded by the CDC, The California Endowment, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ClimateWorks, the Grantham Foundation, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Barr Foundation and the Energy Foundation, Hollywood, Health & Society provides entertainment industry professionals with accurate and timely information for storylines dealing with health and climate change through consultations and briefings with experts. Based at The Norman Lear Center, HH&S is a one-stop shop for writers, producers and others in search of credible information on public health and climate change topics. For more information about resources for writers, go to www.usc.edu/hhs.

The Norman Lear Center is a multidisciplinary research and public policy center studying and shaping the impact of entertainment and media on society. From its base in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Lear Center builds bridges between faculty who study aspects of entertainment, media and culture. Beyond campus, it bridges the gap between entertainment industry and academia, and between them and the public. For more information, visit www.learcenter.org.

Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is among the nation’s leading institutions devoted to the study of journalism and communication, and their impact on politics, culture and society. With an enrollment of more than 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students (as of Fall 2011), USC Annenberg offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in journalism, communication, public diplomacy and public relations. For more information, visit www.annenberg.usc.edu.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/sentinel-awards-to-honor-entertainment-that-gives-voice-to-topics-of-health-and-climate-change/feed/ 0
Call For Submissions: TV Pilots Resurrected http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/call-for-submissions-tv-pilots-resurrected/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/call-for-submissions-tv-pilots-resurrected/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 17:05:27 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1240 The Writers Guild of America, East’s popular TV Pilots Resurrected competition is back! On July 22, we will feature readings of one comedy and one drama, each a previously unproduced television pilot.

The readings will be cast, directed and performed by experienced industry professionals at the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center amphitheater at Lincoln Center. WGAE President Michael Winship will conduct a Q&A with the writer after each reading. A reception will follow.

To enter, submit your script as a PDF or MS Word file attachment to scriptreading@wgaeast.org (Entries should either be half-hour comedies or 20 minute excerpts from an hour-long drama). Include a one paragraph bio in the body of your email along with your name and contact information, a logline and any comments.

Do NOT include your name or other identifying information on the title page. This is a blind entry process. Only the title should appear on the cover page. The competition is open only to WGAE members. Only one submission per member will be accepted, and submissions from members who have won a WGAE screenplay or pilot reading competition in the past two years will not be considered.

The deadline for submissions is 12am on Monday, April 21.



Tuesday, May 20,7pm

Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center, 144 West 65th Street, NYC

Join us for staged readings of excerpts from two new scripts, SOMETIMES LIFE IS HARD by Robbie Chafitz and WEATHER OR NOT by Suzanne Johnson.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/call-for-submissions-tv-pilots-resurrected/feed/ 0
Cool Tech: DSTRUX http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/cool-tech-dstrux/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/cool-tech-dstrux/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 21:19:32 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1238 We often get asked what a safe way to email a script, treatment or materials.

First off, register your script with Writers Guild of America, East through our Script Registration. ($10 for 10 years of protection).

When it comes to emailing your materials, check out DSTRUX, a new tech tool that will help you stop worrying about your work falling into the wrong hands. DSTRUX allows senders to control who can see your sent work. Users can block materials from being forwarded and much more. Watch the below video to learn more about DSTRUX.

Writers Guild of America, East members can sign up for a FREE year of DSTRUX by visiting www.dstrux.com before April 14, 2014.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/cool-tech-dstrux/feed/ 0
Why Writers Are The Heroes Of Our Time http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/why-writers-are-the-heroes-of-our-time/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/why-writers-are-the-heroes-of-our-time/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 17:17:12 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1235 Richard VetereBy Richard Vetere

In this age of technology during this reign of science, artists–for me, more specifically, writers–are the true heroes of our time.

The reason being, a storyteller is the keeper of the flame of a culture, the moral compass for a community, the one who sacrifices their own safety in anonymity by putting themselves out there. Stare at your smartphone all you want and relish in its computing capability but it will tell you absolutely nothing about yourself or what your life means. Writers look for the meaning of things and we look to them to tell us about ourselves.

Writers create characters that resonate with us for decades and sometimes for centuries. Hamlet, Maggie “The Cat,” David Copperfield, Gatsby, and Jane Eyre are just a handful and all of them are the product of a writer’s imagination.

Writing is and always will be a vocation. Writers are born and spend their formative years learning the craft with an apprenticeship at the canvas of experience. Science is all about trial and error and never examines what things mean where writers do the opposite – they strive to answer that question by telling the story of a character. They leave it up to us to make sense out of it. And writers dedicate themselves to the complexity of language the one thing that separates us from everything else.

In my new novel, The Writers Afterlife [Three Rooms Press, $16.95], Tom Chillo is a dedicated artist. He writes scripts for movie and TV just so that it can afford him the time to write what he truly wants to write, which are novels and plays where the author owns the work both legally (as in the copyright law) and artistically. However, in my novel Tom dies suddenly at the age of 44 consequently the same age Shakespeare started writing his own great dramas.

Right after his death Tom finds himself in the Writers Afterlife where he must reside in the Valley of the Those on the Verge. It is a sort of limbo where writers wait for all eternity, if it takes that long, for their work to be recognized so that they might dwell on the hill with the Eternals who include Shakespeare, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Jane Austin and the other greats. Who else would spend a lifetime hoping to be recognized? Some inventors, some explorers but in general writers do.

I like writing about artists . I’ve written about Caravaggio, Machiavelli the playwright and in my contemporary work most of my heroes are writers Why? Because writing is what I do, it’s what I have done for all of my adult life. I write movies, plays, teleplays, television shows, poems and novels and in the end, just like Tom, it’s all the same. And in the end most writers are the same no matter who they are — men, women, young and old. Every writer has to approach the blank space in front of them or the blank piece of paper the same way. A writer needs to overcome his own own insecurities and fill the page.

The hard part is always the beginning, the middle and the end. Writers have to wake up, look around, at the world, their friends and themselves and find stories. They then have to figure if those stories are worth telling and then how to tell those they believe are worth telling. And that is only half the battle. After the writing is completed, then they have to wait and see if anyone outside of themselves cares and finds value in what they have spent sometimes years creating.

And writing never ends, meaning writers are always writing even when they are not doing it physically. Their entire being is directed toward working out in their minds and in their hearts the story they want to tell.

In the end, yes, we do know some statesmen, scientist and money makers of the past but when you really dig deep in the annals of human existence, it’s the poets who we know. The writers who told us about the people they were and who their people were. We read them to know about ourselves. That is why they are as relevant as if they wrote today. Smart phones may be new but human nature probably hasn’t changed one iota.

The wonderful writer William Manchester once wrote that heroism is not based on a single moment when a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades, but acting heroically is the dedication to a purpose through a lifetime. That is my perfect definition of a writer; someone who dedicates his or her life to searching for the meaning of that life and the lives of others through the marvelous and mysterious gift of storytelling.

Originally published on The Huffington Post. Republished with permission of the author.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/why-writers-are-the-heroes-of-our-time/feed/ 0
Join the WGAE Softball Team Today! Season Starts April 7 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/join-the-wgae-softball-team-today/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/join-the-wgae-softball-team-today/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 18:36:21 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1228 Ricky Vaughn

When you’re sick of screenwriting, consider some sun exposure instead! Think about joining the WGAE Softball Team: It’s good exercise, it’s great networking—and we usually win, too. Our Opening Day is Monday, April 7, 2014.

Generally, Team WGAE plays our games at 5:30 or 7 p.m. on Monday evenings, at Central Park’s Heckscher Ballfields, right next to Columbus Circle. We even have a team uniform (well, an official WGAE softball T-shirt) and everything!

Now we need you—ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman (because we have fewer female players than male ones)—but all are welcome to join. You don’t need to be super-experienced, but you do need to have a great, supportive attitude, since not everyone gets to play every game.

Even if you haven’t picked up your mitt in a while, the drinking component should put you at ease: After each game, we retire to a nearby pub for beer, wings, socializing, and rewriting the script for those match-ups that didn’t go so well.

Join the team! Email Timothy Cooper at wgaesoftball@gmail.com to join!

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/join-the-wgae-softball-team-today/feed/ 0
Interview: Joe Mefford on Final Draft 9, April 2 Training Session http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-joe-mefford-on-final-draft-9-wgae-training-session-on-april-2/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-joe-mefford-on-final-draft-9-wgae-training-session-on-april-2/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 19:44:26 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1223 final-draft-9-box-writers-store_mediumOn Wednesday, April 2, the Writers Guild of America, East  will hold a training session for the recently released Final Draft 9 with Joe Mefford, Final Draft’s Vice President of Ecommerce. At the training, Joe will be demonstrating the all-new Final Draft 9 for Mac and Windows along with the Final Draft Writer for iPad and the Final Draft Reader for iPhone.

Members can RSVP to the April 2 training session here.

The WGAE Write On Blog spoke with Final Draft’s Vice Presidnet of Ecommerce, Joe Mefford, about Final Draft Version 9 and what members can expect to learn at our upcoming training session.

Why would someone who already has, and is happy with, Final Draft want to upgrade to Final Draft Version 9? Can you tell us what’s been updated and what’s new in it?

There are three reasons why someone should upgrade to Final Draft 9.

First, we have a whole new suite of Navigator tools – ScriptNotes, Scene, and Character – that make it easy to outline and develop a script at anytime in the writing process.

Second, FD 9 has been upgraded to work natively with the latest versions of Windows and Mac OS.

Third, new production tools such as color coding pages and revision tools have been updated to make Final Draft easier to use on location.

Let’s say I’m new to screenwriting and don’t quite know all the lingo, would you recommend I use FDV9 and what would be the best way to learn how to put together a professional script?

A vast majority of our users are new to screenwriting and we always design Final Draft with the new screenwriter in mind. Having said that, a beginning screenwriter should seek out all the free and inexpensive resources to learn how to write and format a screenplay. These include the book The Screenwriter’s Bible, online classes, and many online blogs and resources.

What can people expect to walk away with learning if they attend the Final Draft Version 9 Training on April 2nd?

People should walk away with an understanding of how to really use the more advanced writing features in Final Draft 9 such as the Navigator tools and some of the newer outlining features.  We’ll also spend some time examining the iOs apps such as the Reader and the Writer.

Can you tell me a simple trick that can enhance users experiences on Final Draft that most people don’t seem to know about?

A simple trick that many people don’t use is the Split Panel option. We’ll examine this in the workshop.

Are there plans for Final Draft to incorporate cloud computing features, online collaboration, or the ability to sync with mobile device?

Yes. We are looking at ways to incorporate with Dropbox and other cloud solutions. We are also looking at allowing users to run Final Draft from the cloud. That is in the future.

If you could personally could write a scene for any fictional television or film character throughout history, who would it be?

I would like to write for the characters in the No Texting announcements and I would insist that anyone texting in a movie is immediately vaporized.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-joe-mefford-on-final-draft-9-wgae-training-session-on-april-2/feed/ 0
(WATCH) Jeff Baron on screenwriters writing books and plays http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/watch-jeff-baron-on-screenwriters-writing-books-and-plays/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/watch-jeff-baron-on-screenwriters-writing-books-and-plays/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 15:51:45 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1220 On March 11th, Writers Guild of America, East held a talk with Jeff Baron about screenwriters branching out into writing plays and books.

Jeff has had four original screenplays  optioned by major Hollywood studios and his TV credits include “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “Sisters, Almost Grown (David Chase),” “A Year in the Life” and multiple projects for Nickelodeon.

His play “Visiting Mr. Green” is one of the most produced plays in the past 15 years, with over 500 productions in 42 countries, and his plays “When I Was Five,” “Mothers Day” and “Mr. & Mrs. God” have international lives as well.

His first novel “I Represent Sean Rosen” was published by HarperCollins last March, and is now in its second printing. His follow-up novel “Sean Rosen Is Not for Sale” will be published in March 2014.

Using examples from his work, Jeff apoke about the differences among the forms in terms of the role of the writer, the ownership of the project, the craft, the collaborative process, the contract and ownership of one’s work, how to get your work seen, and how and how much writers are paid.

Here are two video highlights from the talk:

Jeff Baron Discusses Branching Out Into Theater

Jeff Baron Discusses Branching Out Into Books

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/watch-jeff-baron-on-screenwriters-writing-books-and-plays/feed/ 0
A look at the new Low Budget Agreement http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/a-look-at-the-new-low-budget-agreement/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/a-look-at-the-new-low-budget-agreement/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:42:27 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1215 By Jeremy Pikser, Vice President, Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE)

Newsflash: it’s hard and getting harder for most writers to work in films.

I won’t bore you with the reasons. You know them all. If you’re like me you fall to sleep (or fail to fall asleep) many nights listing them in your head.

The last thing anyone needs or wants is Guild rules to make it even harder.  And as financing and technology have made lower and lower budgets both possible and necessary that has increasingly seemed to be the case.

The Minimum Basic Agreement, that thing that gives us our most basic protections regarding minimum payments, health and pension benefits, residuals, everything that makes a middle class life for professional screenwriters a possibility was designed to work in the context of the studio system.

Truly independent films and truly low budget films have never worked very well with the rules and requirements the Guild has managed to negotiate with the studios.

For many of us this has been a drag; a sad fact that has made making a living and writing what we want to write often at odds.

Several years ago the Guild pioneered a new “Low Budget Agreement” that made it much easier for producers to make lower budget films from scripts by guild writers, with initial compensation deferred and lower minimums. But it was only for sales of scripts written on spec.

Now. the new Low Budget Agreement makes it possible for independent, low budget films, to HIRE a writer to work, which, unlike the sales agreement, includes health and pension contributions. But more than that (and that’s a lot) it allows for much more freedom for writers.


On more than a couple of occasions, I’ve been approached by producers with a book or an idea that really appeals to me, one that I would love to write. But it’s obviously going to be a small, independent production by the very nature of the material. And there’s no way the budget can sustain the 85k or so required for a guild screenplay. You can’t really write it on spec—it’s not an original idea, the producer has to have some stake it in. Not legally, under guild rules, anyway. And how many of us have been put in the position of being forced into this kind of agreement where you work for nothing on script you don’t even own. Sucks, right?

Now, under the new Low Budget Agreement, a low budget, work for hire deal becomes possible.

The Guild’s new Low Budget Agreement includes:

  • Lower budget breaks, including reduced minimums for projects under $200k.
  • Opportunities for writers to receive health and pension contributions for their work on low budget films (unavailable under the previous low budget agreement).
  • Option of work for hire or screenplay purchase contract.
  • Option of upfront or deferred payments.
  • Residuals and creative rights as established in the Guild’s Major Basic Agreement.

These new contract provisions are open to anyone working on a Guild covered, low budget project. Moreover, writers who live east of the Mississippi River and are not yet members of the WGAE can join the Guild on any project covered under the new Low Budget Agreement.

We at the WGAE don’t want to be in a different creative universe from the fantastic independent film community in NY and throughout the east. We have been and continue to find flexible, realistic ways to to work together making sure that filmmakers working at all levels of production have basic rights and protections.

Likewise, producers who want to work with WGA writers should not find the cost of doing so prohibitive for a small production. Writers, directors, producers of small budget, mini-budget, hell, even micro-budget films, the WGA wants to work with you to make Guild coverage work wherever possible.

For more information on using the Guild’s Low Budget Agreement please contact Ursula Lawrence at ulawrence@wgaeast.org or 212-767-7836.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/a-look-at-the-new-low-budget-agreement/feed/ 0
Win Tickets to the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/win-tickets-to-the-2014-toronto-screenwriting-conference/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/win-tickets-to-the-2014-toronto-screenwriting-conference/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 20:08:39 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1206 TSCTo enter for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference, tweet at @WGAEast with the number of years of protection writers get when they submit a script to WGAE Script Registration.

Don’t tweet? Don’t worry! Simply email your answer to membernews@wgaeast.org with the subject “Toronto Screenwriting Conference Contest” for a chance to win.

The deadline to enter is Monday March 17, 2014, at 4pm ET. A winner will be notified on March 18th.

The 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC) is a two-day weekend event taking place on April 5-6, 2014, which gathers together the best creative talent, authors and speakers in writing for film, television and media in Canada and the United States. The TSC offers screen-based industry professionals an advanced level of education and skills development unparalleled by any other screenwriting event on the continent. Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Little Miss Sunshine) and David Webb Peoples (12 Monkeys, Unforgiven, Bladerunner) have already been announced as speakers for this years’ conference.

Visit the TSC website for more details: www.torontoscreenwritingconference.com

CONTEST: One randomly selected winner will each get TWO (2) tickets to attend the 2014 Toronto Screenwriting Conference. The winner must be a WGAE member. The winner and their guest are responsible for all additional expenses, including hotel and travel.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/win-tickets-to-the-2014-toronto-screenwriting-conference/feed/ 0
Video Highlights From WGAE’s Panel On Portraying Obamacare in TV & Film http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/video-highlights-from-wgaes-panel-on-portraying-obamacare-in-tv-film/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/video-highlights-from-wgaes-panel-on-portraying-obamacare-in-tv-film/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 19:13:27 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1204 Hollywood, Health & Society collaborated with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), in presenting “The Affordable Care Act: Comedy, Drama & Reality,” a panel on portraying Obamacare in TV and film, at the WGAE headquarters in New York.

Panel members were Julie Green Bataille, director of the Office of Communications, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS); Wendell Potter, former head of communications for the giant health insurance company CIGNA and author of Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans; and Trudy Lieberman, a veteran journalist who has written extensively about health and health-care coverage.

Marty Kaplan, director of The Norman Lear Center, and Michael Winship, president of the WGAE, served as co-moderators.

Hollywood, Health & Society is a program of the USC Annenberg Lear Center that connects TV writers/producers and filmmakers with health and climate change experts on questions dealing with storylines in scripts. HH&S’ resources and services are free.

Here are some video highlights from the event:

Julie Green Bataille, director of the Office of Communications for the CMS, discusses the importance of getting the right information to people about the Affordable Care Act.

Wendell Potter and Trudy Lieberman discuss the use of language in promoting and disparage the Affordable Care Act.

Wendell Potter discusses why he left CIGNA to become an outspoken critic of the health insurance industry.

Journalist Trudy Lieberman talks about widespread hunger among the elderly in America.

http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/video-highlights-from-wgaes-panel-on-portraying-obamacare-in-tv-film/feed/ 0