After a long run of failed negotiations, the Writer’s Guild has instructed its members to fire their agents.
The Writers Guild of America, which represents most of America’s major screenwriters, has instructed its members to cut ties with Hollywood over a contract dispute. The writers have to face the choice of either firing their agents, or facing penalties.
Hollywood agents have been representing writers since almost the beginning of the entertainment industry. An agent’s typical duties involved finding new projects, negotiating contracts, and helping to console their clients when need be. These days, agencies provide these services and more. The problem started when top agencies started expanding their businesses by financing and producing their own content. Writers have come to believe that these agencies are enriching themselves at their clients’ expense. The WGA has already updated their code to stop agencies from financing and producing their own content.
Agencies, for their part, argue that their growing power has helped empower writers by creating new opportunities that hadn’t existed. Writers and agencies/studios have had a long history of fighting over terms. In 2007, the WGA went so far as to stop the production of dozens of movies and shows.