We've Got Hollywood Covered

Movie Screenwriters Increasingly Turning to TV, Writers Guild Survey Says

Nearly 90% of writers — more than half of whom wrote feature films – say they’ll be looking for TV work, according to WGAE

Writers are looking increasingly to the small screen for work, according to new survey released Wednesday by the Writers Guild of America East.

The union’s survey of its film, television, and digital media members provided a snapshot of their skills and experience and their opinions about the state of the entertainment industry and what the WGAE should be doing about it.

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Although more than half of the respondents said they wrote feature films in the last five years, nearly 90 percent said they intend to seek Guild-covered work in television in the next year. In other words, screenwriters plan to explore opportunities in TV.

Most of the writers who answered the survey also performed other work in the entertainment industry in the last five years. About 45 percent said they have also produced; nearly 30 percent have directed; and about 18 percent have acted.

WGAE members — the bulk of whom are based in New York — say their writing is diversified as well. In addition to their film, TV, and digital media writing, nearly 20 percent of the survey respondents are also playwrights, 20 percent write novels and short stories and 16 percent write nonfiction books and articles.

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Ten percent said they wrote in nonfiction television, where the WGAE has pursued an industry-wide organizing campaign for several years. And 17 percent of the respondents indicated they have been paid to write for digital media, over which the Guild first won jurisdiction in the 2007-2008 strike.

When asked to select the biggest challenges WGAE members will face in the next five years, half of the respondents identified the decreased number of feature films being made. Many also decried the lack of development deals in feature film and limited revenues from digital and online reuse of their work.

When asked about the biggest opportunities for WGAE members in the next five years, 77 percent identified new production and distribution models in digital media, and nearly two-thirds said additional hours of scripted programming on TV and online.