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International screenwriters organize 'Day of Solidarity' supporting Hollywood writers

Screenwriters around the world are organizing pickets and other actions on June 14 in support of the ongoing Writers Guide of America strike. Above, Writers Guild of America workers picket outside the Warner Brother studios, on May 2, 2023 in Burbank, Calif.
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Screenwriters around the world are organizing pickets and other actions on June 14 in support of the ongoing Writers Guide of America strike. Above, Writers Guild of America workers picket outside the Warner Brother studios, on May 2, 2023 in Burbank, Calif.

Screenwriters in 35 countries across the globe are staging a public show of support for their counterparts involved in the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike.

"Screenwriters Everywhere: International Day of Solidarity," a global event scheduled to take place on June 14 in nations as diverse as Bulgaria and South Korea, includes rallies, social media campaigns and picketing outside local Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) member offices.

The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), International Affiliation of Writers Guilds(IAWG), and UNI Global Union (UNI-MEI) worked together to organize the actions. Combined, these organizations represent around 67,000 film and TV writers worldwide.

"The members of the IAWG, made up of Guilds from Europe, America, Canada, India, Africa, Korea, New Zealand and Israel, stand in solidarity with our sister Guilds in America," said IAWG Chair, Thomas McLaughlin, in a statement shared with NPR. "The companies that seek to exploit and diminish writers are global, our response is global, and the victory gained in America will be a victory for screenwriters everywhere."

It's not the first time writers in other parts of the world have stepped out in solidarity with WGA writers since early May, when the strike started. For example, on May 11, some European writers staged a small protest outside the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) European headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

With companies like Netflix, Amazon and Disney operating in many countries around the globe, the "International Day of Solidarity" comes amid fears that writers outside the U.S., where production continues, could potentially steal jobs from striking WGA members over here.

But many international writers guilds have issued guidelines to their members over the past few weeks about steering clear of jobs that ordinarily would go to WGA members.

Social media messaging from the #ScreenwritersEverywhere International Day of Solidarity
/ ScreenwritersEverywhere
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ScreenwritersEverywhere
Social media messaging from the #ScreenwritersEverywhere International Day of Solidarity

"We've put the message out to our members that if an American producer knocks on your door and says, 'We need a European writer,' while it's incredibly tempting, we are really strongly recommending that our members do not do that because they will get blacklisted by the WGA and it would be viewed very much as breaking the strike," said Jennifer Davidson, chair of the Writers Guild of Ireland (WGI), in an interview with NPR.

The WGI's guidelines, available on the organization's website, state: "WGI has committed to ensuring that our members shall in no casework within the jurisdiction of a Member Guild for any engager who has not adhered to the relevant collective bargaining agreement of that Guild (or who is on the unfair or strike list of that Guild)."

"I think it's a little bit unlikely," said FSE Executive Officer David Kavanagh, of the possibility of non-WGA writers in countries outside the U.S. taking work from their WGA counterparts during the strike. "They're our friends and colleagues. We share skills and talents with them and we share our concerns about the impact that streaming is going to have on our profession. So we're absolutely on their side."

But Kavanagh said despite the show of solidarity among the global screenwriting community, technically, there's nothing to stop global streamers from contracting writers in Europe and elsewhere, as long as they're not members of the WGA.

The WGA and AMPTP did not respond to NPR's request for comment.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.
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