Print
Film

Possible Writers Strike Could Be Felt In Wilmington Film Scene

By Jenny Callison, posted Mar 20, 2023
Crews work on a scene from The Supremes at Earl’s-All-You-Can-Eat, a movie filmed in Wilmington last fall. (Photo by Scott Nunn)
With cameras ready to roll on the newly greenlit Untitled J&L Project, Wilmington is back in the film saddle again. Film commissioner Johnny Griffin is also “pretty hopeful” about the return of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” to shoot a third season in the area, and in discussions with studios about other possible projects. But he sees a possible cloud on the horizon.
 
That looming shade would be a possible strike by the Writers Guild of America. The 25,000-member union of film, TV and radio writers begins negotiations Monday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios.
 
The WGA is chiefly concerned, according to a March 15 article in Bloomberg Business Week, that the rise of streaming services has significantly reduced the writers’ earnings. “Before streaming, writers could count on hefty residual payments – recurring royalties – from films and TV episodes rerunning on cable,” it stated.
 
But in the world of streaming, a writer’s work is judged by the number of clicks a film or show gets, or whether it’s a big hit, the piece continued. As a result, streaming platforms have often paid writers a flat fee with minimal bonuses if the show does extremely well. And that’s typically far less than what the writers would earn from a big theatrical hit.
 
“Every three years the Writers Guild contract comes up for renewal,” Griffin said last week. “It’s always a big deal. In 2017 [writers] went on strike, and we are back at that same situation. The contract expires in May. Meanwhile, some companies are not moving forward [with projects] because if you start and they strike, you have to shut down. It affects the whole industry.
 
“I was in Los Angeles last week, Griffin continued. “Some companies are cautiously moving forward, but things are slower than what we would expect this time of year.”
 
Griffin also took advantage of an event in early February to plant a seed with state legislators as they consider top issues and funding priorities. At a breakfast hosted by Wilmington officials, he asked them to reconsider one aspect of the state’s Film and Entertainment grant: the cap imposed within the legislation on lead actor salaries. The current cap for a “highly compensated individual,” as the bill text calls it, is $1 million.
 
“We've had projects that we've gotten 75% to 80% down the pathway with recruitment, and all of a sudden we hit a snag, and at that point, the project leaves,” he said at that time. “And we're now seeing a $20, $30, $50 million project leave the community that could have been here except for that one part of the incentive."
 
Griffin offered a bit more detail in an interview last week.
 
“Actors fall into certain ranges,” he said. “There are $1 million, $3 million actors – it refers to the stature of the actor. We’ve had projects in the past that say, ‘Okay, we have a million-dollar actor,’ and move forward with filming in Wilmington. Then they call us back and say, ‘Now we have a $3 million actor.’ They had to pivot and go to Georgia or Louisiana.

“We're not saying make it open-ended,” he said. “Maybe we take the $1 million cap and move it up to $2 million or $3 million.”
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Screenshot2022 01 06at338 162234623

Conversations to Contracts Driving Productivity to the Local Workforce

Girard Newkirk - Genesis Block
Unknown 7112393341

Why Feasibility is Paramount to Success

Holly Segur - Lead Intuitively – Corporate Coaching
2022052 75 142344351

Bridging Futures: The Case for Toll Funding in Wilmington’s Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Revamp

Natalie English - Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Trending News

Wilmington Startup Gains Endorsement Through Spokesperson, Potential Investors

Audrey Elsberry - Feb 26, 2024

Rezoning Proposed For Carolina Beach Land, Including Seawitch Site

Emma Dill - Feb 26, 2024

Sullivan Promoted To Marketing Director At Thomas Construction

Staff Reports - Feb 27, 2024

Sikes Honored As Top Franchisee

Staff Reports - Feb 27, 2024

Wilmington's Venture Capital Spending Declines Sharply In 2023

Audrey Elsberry - Feb 27, 2024

In The Current Issue

Trouble Brewing: How A Social Media Post Bubbled Over For A Wilmington Brewery

Social media can influence which local breweries are favored among patrons and restaurants. This dynamic played out recently with an online...


Pickler Provides Place To Play

Today, the House of Pickleball has around 2,000 members....


Locals Cook Up Kitchen Concepts

Local chefs and restaurant industry owners are setting up shared kitchens, some with an entrepreneurial drive....

Book On Business

The 2024 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2023 Power Breakfast: Major Developments