Under the terms of the WGA minimum basic agreement, studios are required to pay screenwriters within seven days after delivery of a script (or other contracted literary material). In practice, however, studios often drag their feet. It can take months to get paid.
Today, the WGAw launched a new initiative aimed at getting writers paid on time by focusing on talent agents.
Under the new system —
[Agents will] voluntarily provide notice to the Guild when screenwriters deliver their literary material to the Company. Agents will be able to choose among three methods to keep the Guild informed. An agent may copy the Guild on invoices, complete a Script Delivery Notice form that is available on the Guild’s website or email the Guild at a dedicated email address.
Once the Guild has received delivery information from an agent, the Guild will track whether the writer has been paid on time. If the agency confirms that payment was made, no further action will be taken. If payment is late, a Guild representative will contact the Company to demand the payment, including accrued interest.
We’ll see how it works in practice.
Agencies have a vested interested in getting their clients paid; ten percent of that money is theirs. But individual agents are often reluctant to complain too much about late payment because of ongoing relationships. Transferring the burden of where’s-the-money calls to the WGA may take the pressure off and get writers paid sooner.
A second possible boon: better data. By aggregating payment data, writers can get a better sense of which studios are systematically late.
As before, any WGA writer facing late pay can always contact the Late Pay department.