Sunday, November 13, 2016

#Scriptchat Transcript Aaron Mendelsohn @amendelsohn - Politics of WGA - November 13, 2016

Tonight we talked with Aaron Mendelsohn @amendelsohn, screenwriter and secretary/treasurer of the Writers' Guild, West. We talked craft, rewriting, WGA contracts/advice and more! Enjoy! @jeannevb 

Read the transcript below or on the Storify site.

#Scriptchat Transcript Aaron Mendelsohn @amendelsohn - Politics of WGA - November 13, 2016

#Scriptchat Transcript Aaron Mendelsohn @amendelsohn - Politics of WGA - November 13, 2016

Tonight we talked with Aaron Mendelsohn, screenwriter and secretary/treasurer of the Writers' Guild, West. We talked craft, rewriting, WGA contracts/advice and more! Enjoy! @jeannevb

  1. IT’S #SCRIPTCHAT O’CLOCK: @amendelsohn author 11 Fundamental ?s: Guide to Better Screenplay & @WGAWest Sec’ty/Treas talks politics of WGA
  2. Happy to talk politics (strictly WGA!!) and craft as well. #scriptchat
  3. @amendelsohn haha I think we've all had enough of the other politics this week. Promise to keep it drama free here. :) #scriptchat
  4. I actually became full on CFWU. Union employees for the win. #scriptchat
  5. I've been a working screenwriter for 20 yrs and on the WGAW board since 2004 (and sec-treasurer since 2014). Happy to answer ?s #scriptchat
  6. The 11 Fundamental Questions: A Guide to a Better Screenplay is my new ebook. It shares the story-breaking method I developed. #scriptchat
  7. Q: Is FICOR a preferable way to join the WGA when one has sufficient credits? @amendelsohn #scriptchat
  8. I use it to break the story for all my screenplays and pilots. Basically it's a series of prompts that stimulate ideas. #scriptchat
  9. I'm a complete newbie and am still learning (not earning), but just out of curiosity: are there a lot of WGA members here? #scriptchat
  10. @amendelsohn Q: I wrote 3 spec eps for a web series that had a SAG actor (I'm non-union atm). Does that qualify for membership? #scriptchat
  11. Dwayne, FICOR is when you decide you no longer want to be a full member and just want the basic services. #scriptchat
  12. @amendelsohn I should mention, though, that this was back in 2015 (I think), and these haven't been produced yet... #scriptchat
  13. Re: FICOR, you have to be a member or an eligible member to switch to FICOR status. #scriptchat
  14. @SamSquamchman there are 8000+ WGA members in the West and another 3000 or so in the East. They are separate Guilds. #scriptchat
  15. Okay. I was told something different by a guild member. Thanks for straightening that up. Or out. @amendelsohn #scriptchat
  16. @amendelsohn is there something the WGA is really pushing for currently? Like a long-term goal they want to achieve? #scriptchat
  17. Dwayne, you can become an Associate Member at some point, w fewer points. You can also join one of the caucuses (ie indy film) #scriptchat
  18. Chris, your web series would only qualify you for WGA membership if you make your series WGA signatory first. #scriptchat
  19. Q: So once you become a member is it for life or do you have to qualify each year to be a member? #scriptchat
  20. That makes sense. I have some works produced w/ Amazon Studios. I think the new media caucus is what she spoke of @amendelsohn #scriptchat
  21. @amendelsohn I see. Thanks very much for clearing that up. I'll have to ask its creator. Been a few years since S1 #scriptchat
  22. Jeanne, the WGA is looking to improve upon our current new media contract with the companies. #scriptchat
  23. Isaac, once you become a member, you have to book another WGA-covered gig within four years to renew your membership. #scriptchat
  24. You need to keep booking signatory gigs within every 4 years. After 18 years you become a lifetime member. #scriptchat
  25. Matthew, you earn certain amount of points when you work a WGA signatory gig. You need 24 points to be eligible to join. #scriptchat
  26. I believe you get 12 points for each 1/2 hr of covered work but there are variations. #scriptchat
  27. Sarah, working different genres is me following my muse but it makes my reps crazy. They want to be able to brand me :) #scriptchat
  28. @amendelsohn are there opportunities for signatory assignments from  http://within.Like  if I was a member without a manager or an agent? #scriptchat
  29. The way I've been able to do that is by having great samples in all the diff genres I work in. But it's tough switching around. #scriptchat
  30. I haven't become well known in any partic genre except family film #scriptchat
  31. The MBA also dictates the terms for films or TV episodes that are subsequently show (reused) on the web. Residuals etc. #scriptchat
  32. Sarah, the original Air Bud WAS written on spec. We met a dog with an amazing stupid pet trick, so we wrote the script for him. #scriptchat
  33. Sarah, it definitely helped to have the dog attached because no one believed he could do those tricks when they read the script! #scriptchat
  34. Sarah, my involvement w the Guild has helped me network w other writers, and a lot of ideas (and some work) has come out of that #scriptchat
  35. But since I wrote mostly films and pilots, my writing continues to be mostly a solitary profession #scriptchat
  36. @amendelsohn Q: How does their feedback help you during the writing process? #scriptchat
  37. @amendelsohn some writers have a love/hate relationship w/ the Guild. Is there any downside to being a member? #scriptchat
  38. We didn't pitch Air Bud, we wrote a spec, but if we had we would've definitely brought the dog. He was amazing! #scriptchat
  39. @amendelsohn I mean, we all know the downsides of not being eligible to be a member :) #scriptchat
  40. Chris, I find the feedback from other WGA writers to be levels above most others, but ultimately I follow my own judgment #scriptchat
  41. Not too many downsides except it makes you ineligible to do non-union work. Upsides are enormous. #scriptchat
  42. @amendelsohn SAG has made it possible for even the most low-budget films to go union. Would WGA consider something like that? #scriptchat
  43. Residuals, minimums, pension contributions and one of the best health plans in the country. Plus screeners! #scriptchat
  44. Matthew, the WGA has a low budget agmnt that enables low and micro budget films to be signatory. Kay Wolfe @ Guild can help. #scriptchat
  45. @Al_1701 I would think any major studio has a contract with the WGA. #scriptchat
  46. Sarah, best way to protect work is to register it w WGA & also copyright. You can also mail a copy to yourself & get date stamp. #scriptchat
  47. SAG has a mission to make every single movie regardless of budget SAG signatory, and have contracts to make that happen. WGA? #scriptchat
  48. Bill, see my answer below re the Low Budget agmnt. I believe it's similar to SAG's. #scriptchat
  49. Contact Kay Wolf about low budget agreement: #scriptchat
  50. @wcmartell interesting concept to make a micro and still get credit for WGA... #scriptchat
  51. Other upsides to becoming WGA: enforcement of contracts, access to great events, film screenings, employment/union standards etc #scriptchat
  52. Sarah, altho I'm mostly an original writer, I've done quite a few rewrite jobs. Good gigs, if you can get them. #scriptchat
  53. @SarahAlexis4 thanks so much for the great Qs. #sickpup is needing some love, so I'm in and out tonight. #scriptchat
  54. Sarah, arbiters (who are members) read all the scripts and determine if subsequent writers did enough work to garner credit. #scriptchat
  55. @amendelsohn thoughts on whether writers shld look for agent or manager when they're starting out (assuming scripts are ready)? #scriptchat
  56. Re the handoff between writers, I find it's very helpful to meet the other writer and get a sense of their vision. #scriptchat
  57. Jeanne, having an agent and/or manager helps immeasurably, no doubt. Opens a lot more doors. #scriptchat
  58. Will be easier to find a manager than an agent (more of them). #scriptchat
  59. Q: do you have peers review your work or a mentor? Coverage? Notes? Before going to market... #scriptchat
  60. But there are many other access points to producers, via contests, pitch fests, sites like Blacklist and Inktip etc. #scriptchat
  61. Or just being bold and cold calling/emailing a producer (or their assistant) and convincing them to read your script. #scriptchat
  62. What ever happened to the WGA plan to partner older writers with younger writers (as advisers)? Um, ah... asking for a friend. #scriptchat
  63. Christopher, I have a few trusted writer peers, and my reps, read my scripts before I submit. #scriptchat
  64. Bill, I know there are various mentor programs, but I'm not sure about that one. Try Sharline Liu about that. #scriptchat
  65. Sarah, unfortunately my digital studio closed its virtual doors some time ago. These days I'm entirely focused on "old media." #scriptchat
  66. @jeannevb @SarahAlexis4 :( So sorry to hear about your dog, Jeanne. Hope he feels better soon. <3 #scriptchat
  67. @SarahAlexis4 @amendelsohn Not just for those who want to be part of the union, but also navigating the industry, career, etc. #scriptchat
  68. Chris, doing web series is a great way to get noticed these days. Plus you're disintermediating all the gate keepers. #scriptchat
  69. Executives are increasingly looking at web series to discover new writers and filmmakers. #scriptchat
  70. The writing's gotta be great, though. You can get away with shaky camera work but not shaky writing. #scriptchat
  71. @wcmartell We used SAG actors on our Amazon shows by signing the SAG New Media contract. Using H.SALT as crafties is a plus. #scriptchat
  72. @amendelsohn Definitely realize that. I've been working on my own web series for just over 2 years now. Launching S2 soon... #scriptchat
  73. Sarah, I've learned from digital writing to try to grab my reader/viewer with a dynamic opening scene. #scriptchat
  74. Q: suggestions for getting mentored by more experienced writers? Or stick to peers? #scriptchat
  75. @amendelsohn Issa Rae is a great success story. Met her at the WGA just before things happened for her. #scriptchat
  76. @byChrisPhillips, getting mentored by experienced writers is a big plus. Peers can sometimes send u in the wrong direction. #scriptchat
  77. @byChrisPhillips If you are a veteran, apply for the WGA mentorship program. One year of sitting with your heroes. #scriptchat
  78. We are big fans of Issa Rae. She made a web series that ended up landing her an HBO show. #scriptchat
  79. Sarah, non members can attend events put on by the Writers Guild Foundation. Check out their website. Excellent events. #scriptchat
  80. The veterans' mentorship program is one of the crown jewels of the Guild. #scriptchat
  81. @amendelsohn Thanks very much for giving me a chance to link to my show on #scriptchat
  82. I get the WGA event notices. They do fill up quickly, but worth going @amendelsohn #scriptchat
  83. You can get on the WG Foundation subscriber list and get regular emails about upcoming events. #scriptchat
  84. @SarahAlexis4 Improving our new media contract and keeping the health fund and pension strong are big priorities. #scriptchat
  85. We're also stepping up the fight to maintain net neutrality, partic in light of our new political reality in this country. #scriptchat
  86. The WGAW Political Action Committee has been doing exceptional work lobbying for/against issues that affect writers. #scriptchat
  87. Nxt Sunday #scriptchat topic: Going DIY vs Going Hollywood - @zacsanford moderating.
  88. @amendelsohn Speaking of which, we did some CGI Obama pieces in new media. Circumspect re: Trump pieces... #scriptchat
  89. @amendelsohn thanks for a great chat, Aaron! I’ll get a transcript up and tag you in the tweet. Thanks, everyone! #scriptchat
  90. Sarah, Go to  and subscribe to the various Guild publications incl Written By magazine & WriteNow etc. #scriptchat
  91. @amendelsohn Thanks so much for joining us Aaron, and for answering all our questions! Really appreciate it! #scriptchat
  92. Enjoyed it, as always! ((((((HUGS)))))) See you next week! #scriptchat
  93. Thanks @amendelsohn for a great chat. And @jeannevb, much love, much respect. Fna @wcmartell, peace, love and fish grease. #scriptchat
  94. @filmwritr4 You may be able to make your web series signatory after the fact. Check w signatory dept @ the guild. #scriptchat
  95. Don't forget to check out Aaron's site where you can find his book on The 11 Fundamental Questions: A Guide to a Better Screenplay 

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