March 27, 2024
AI's Role in Hollywood Scripts: A Point of Contention in WGA-AMPTP Negotiations
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AI’s Role in Hollywood Scripts: A Point of Contention in WGA-AMPTP Negotiations

After a 146-day strike that paralyzed Hollywood, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have tentatively struck a deal, the guild said Sunday night.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the potential three-year agreement follows marathon talks between the WGA and AMPTP over the weekend and concludes the guild’s longest strike in history. The 11,500 WGA members must still approve the arrangement.

Governing the implementation of artificial intelligence in TV and film scripting was a major point of discussion during the negotiations. The WGA demanded stringent restrictions on scripts created by AI, but studios wanted more freedom to experiment with the novel technology. Variety reports that although specifics are yet unknown, the tentative agreement involves “groundbreaking additions” involving the usage of AI.

Writers’ concerns about the potential for AI to replace human creatives are brought up by the current AI debate; according to some, AI “isn’t writing—it’s scraping other people’s work… it’s a plagiarizing machine.” Studios contend AI may be a collaborative instrument to support authors rather than completely replace them.

When specifics are revealed, it will be evident how the new agreement balances those viewpoints. The AI rules, though, were a significant sticking point.

The proposed agreement allegedly includes improvements for writer pay and residuals, particularly for shows on streaming platforms, in addition to AI.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership,” the WGA Negotiating Committee stated in a message to members Sunday evening, according to Deadline.

“To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild—we are still on strike until then,” the statement further continued. “But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing.”

“I want to thank every single WGA member and every fellow worker who stood with us in solidarity,” WGA negotiating committee member Adam Conover tweeted on Twitter. “You made this possible.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the agreement was made possible because of the membership’s “willingness to exercise its power and demonstrate its solidarity” by going on strike.

When the last WGA contract ended on May 2 without a new agreement in effect, the strike got underway. It halted work on many well-known movies and TV shows by stopping production of both.

The Hollywood Reporter claims that the strike was in response to worries that writers’ pay has been affected by shorter TV seasons and the development of streaming. For instance, compared to network TV, streaming shows sometimes feature fewer episodes per season.

According to data from the nonprofit FilmLA, the strike had an immediate impact on filming in Los Angeles, which fell 29% in the second quarter in contrast to the previous year.

Many Hollywood employees experienced financial hardship as the strike dragged on. Variety stated that some crew workers migrated out of state, ran the risk of losing their health insurance, or had financial difficulties without consistent studio work.

As prices increased and releases were postponed, the studios also felt pressure. For instance, Netflix delayed the release of the next season of the hugely popular Stranger Things, while other significant endeavours, like the Marvel sequel to Blade, remained in limbo.

The “enduring solidarity” of guild members, according to the WGA statement, gave studios the power to strike an agreement that will hopefully restart production after months of fruitless negotiations.

The AMPTP, which includes entertainment behemoths like Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros., Discovery, Sony, and Amazon, acted as the studios’ representatives during negotiations.

Now the WGA’s imminent vote to ratify the agreement is in the spotlight. Before members vote, the negotiating committee promises to give them a thorough breakdown of the deal.

Until that procedure is finished, the strike is still in place. Carol Lombardini, the president of the AMPTP, will most likely now turn her attention to the Screen Actors Guild, which has been on strike since the middle of July.

For studios trying to pick up production on movies and TV shows affected by the two strikes, getting performers back on set is crucial.

However, SAG-AFTRA has supported the WGA and will probably wait to see how writers react to the arrangement before taking any further action. Between now and then, the WGA has urged its members to “join the SAG-AFTRA picket lines this week.”

If writers approve their agreements and actors do likewise, the entertainment business will exhale in relief. However, restarting Hollywood’s creative engine won’t happen quickly after months of lost salaries and production delays.

Image: Wallpapers.com

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