As I write this on Sunday afternoon, I have no confirmation whether a deal has been reached to end the strike. Rumor and reality have been scrambled and beaten throughout this ordeal, so now seems a particularly bad time to be counting unhatched chickens. (To strain an egg metaphor.)
For any writer — WGA or otherwise — tomorrow would seem an especially important day to be on the picket lines. If the strike is ending, it’s your last chance to be part of the picket line. If it’s not ending, then a big showing on Monday will be important for the media who show up to cover the presumed resolution.
My heart will be with my usual crew at Paramount. My body and brain cells will be in Eagle Rock, where I’ll be shooting a short-film-slash-web-pilot that’s been in the works for weeks.1
The decision to do the project — I’ll tell you more when it’s done — really crystallized after Indie Day at Paramount. It was there I felt a change of memes. The message from writers to the studios had been, “Come back, baby. We can work this out.” But after the second time negotiations fell apart, the message became, “Maybe we should see other people.”
I decided to start seeing other people.
The project is financed outside the studio system, with some of that much-fabled internet money. It has actors you recognize, and it probably could be a TV show — but it won’t. There’s near-consensus that in the next year or two, one of the web shows will really take off and change the game. I can almost guarantee you it won’t be ours. We may never see the light of day. But it’s the right time to be experimenting: with tone, with format, with economic model.2
I hope to be changing lighting setups when the call comes in that the strike is over. The cast and crew will cheer. The irony that we’re filming something for the internet — the primary focus of these negotiations — will be noted. Then we’ll keep shooting, because in production, you’re always just about to lose light.
If the news comes back negative, that the negotiations have proved fruitless, and there’s no end in sight, at least we’ll be working. That’s been the interesting thing about putting together this project during the strike. Yes, people are nervous about money and mortgages, but mostly they’re just restless to work. To create. To perform. We had 2,000 submissions for three roles. We have talented tradespeople working for the joy of working.
I don’t know if the strike is over. I don’t know if this pilot will amount to anything. But after 92 days, it feels good to stop hoping and start doing. Call time is 7 a.m.