It’s Media Monday: Shouldn’t screenwriters be paid more?

It’s Media Monday where I post my latest views on writing & publishing news…  Writing news

Like dealing with a bad case of piles, finding a job can be tough, right? Well, news out last week was that screenwriters in Hollywood and beyond are now being hammered on the job front. As reported in the i newspaper, screenwriting jobs and wages  in Hollywood have declined for  a second consecutive year, with total earnings down 12.6%.

Okay, so I guess if writers’ wages are down, actors’ wages will be down too, right? Wrong. Take the film Hangover 3. Due out in 2013, its actors are

The Hangover – making a whole heap of money

reported to be receiving more than double the amount of pay they enjoyed for the first film. No wage cuts there then. And remember the sitcom, Friends? By the time the last series was running, the actors were receiving a huge $20m (£12.5m) a year.  And how about the writers? Well they were earning nowhere near as much, nowhere near. And that’s the main question here: why are writers  paid so much less?

Is it right for actors to still receive enormous pay increases  while the screenwriters who create the films for the actors receive less pay year-on-year? It isn’t simply wages either. Recognition for screenwriters’ work in films goes more unnoticed as time goes by. Yes there are exceptions (step forward the wonderful Diablo Cody). And of course writers as a profession do not naturally seek the limelight. But isn’t it only right to dish out recognition where it’s due? And if that means the correct wage packet that reflects the effort put in, then surely that should be done? The trouble with the movie world is that it is littered with inequality: men vs women, writers vs actors, runners vs studio execs. There is a pecking order – and writers are missing out.

So come on, Hollywood, how’s about a little more respect for your writers and a few more dollars in their pay packets? Bet it would make a great movie…

How about you? Have you been paid less than someone working on the same project? Are you an underpaid writer? Or do you think writers can’t expect to receive the same pay heights as others? Let’s start the debate…

 **Look out for Wednesday Wafflings where I post my latest entry of my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

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4 thoughts on “It’s Media Monday: Shouldn’t screenwriters be paid more?”

  1. I guess it raises the question, “how much of a writer’s personality ends up on screen?”

    Actors can sell a movie because they are the stars of the show. You know what to expect when you see a Tom Cruise movie (it probably involves running). Less often, but still prevalent is a director who sells a movie on his name. Directors that have “brands” like Tim Burton or David Fincher. But how many screenwriters really have a brand to market?

    The answer is “probably a lot” but part of the problem is that their voice is filtered through so many lenses (producers, directors, actors) that by the time it gets to the end product, their brand is gone. But this filter only exists because the writer is not respected as they should be in the first place… and the circle continues.

    Maybe it starts with writer’s showing ourselves a little more self-respect, taking more control of our own destinies, and not settling for less than we deserve.

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    1. Hi – thanks for commenting. You make some really good points. this filter thing is a major wall for writers, but, like you say, there is a flip side – namely how writers handle themselves. There are some out there that show us how it’s done – Diablo Cody is a fine example. it’s like anything – get your voice heard and who knows where it will take you. Bit like this blogging lark, really! Nice to meet you.

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  2. They all seem to be moving over to TV, where the writing seems far superior these days IMHO 😉 No it isn’t fair and it isn’t producing great films, just a lot of sometimes poorly written dross, as long as the focus groups and the testing says that stars = box office success it will be the way of things. What can we do to change this, refuse to watch the rubbish.

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    1. Cheers for commenting. You’re so right – TV writing is top quality these days. And as for films – yup, agree with the voting with your feet approach. Saves us a packet, too!

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