David A. Goodman has been president of the WGA West since 2017, and can time period out in September, bringing to an finish one of many guild’s most consequential presidencies. On this interview, he displays on what it was wish to be president throughout probably the most difficult 12 months within the historical past of the movie and tv business, and on the WGA’s historic marketing campaign to reshape the expertise company enterprise – and what could lie forward if members determine to tackle the enterprise practices of private managers, as nicely. He additionally spoke about how the movie business lags far behind tv when it comes to range and inclusion, and about what David Younger, the guild’s longtime govt director, is actually like.
Goodman, a author and govt producer on Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville, was relaxed and in good spirits when he spoke with Deadline on Thursday, the identical day he acquired his first Covid-19 vaccination shot, and forward of Sunday’s digital WGA Awards present.
WGA Awards Film Nominations: ‘Trial Of The Chicago 7’, ‘Sound Of Metal’, ‘One Night In Miami’, ‘Borat’, ‘Palm Springs’ & More
DEADLINE: First query, how are you and the guild holding up through the pandemic?
GOODMAN: It’s been a disturbing 12 months definitely for our members. We’ve been lucky that many writers have been capable of proceed working throughout this final 12 months I believe, nonetheless, there have been clearly some writers who haven’t, however we’re lucky in that the studios that we work for wished to maintain writers working in order that when the difficulties of the pandemic got here to an finish, they’d have one thing to make. So we’ve been lucky that means, but it surely’s been disturbing, with the writers working in Zoom rooms, and clearly, the ache of the pandemic itself, the tragedy of it. I do know many writers who misplaced folks throughout this 12 months. I actually knew individuals who died from this. It’s very upsetting and we’re relieved, no less than, that we as nation see a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel.
DEADLINE: So, there hasn’t been a big decline in members’ earnings this final 12 months?
GOODMAN: Not likely; not a big one. I don’t know the numbers, however the contributions to our well being plan continued and that meant that individuals have been getting employed and getting paid. I don’t need to diminish the difficulties that writers have confronted, as a result of there have been difficulties, but in addition a variety of writers labored final 12 months, too.
DEADLINE: Are writing rooms smaller now due to the pandemic?
GOODMAN: There’s been a pattern in writers’ rooms being smaller that’s been happening for years. I don’t know that that’s a results of the pandemic, though it could have been exacerbated by it, however that pattern of smaller rooms, as a result of there have been shorter orders, has been a pattern that’s been happening for a very long time. It might have been lastly exacerbated by the pandemic. I don’t know that we all know that, however I believe rooms have been getting smaller over time and it’s been one thing we’ve clearly been involved about.
On the flip aspect you’ve gotten 500 tv reveals, which in 2019 employed extra writers than at any time within the historical past of the Guild. We had extra writers truly working throughout that 12 months as a result of there have been so many reveals, so many roles, and since additionally the streaming platforms have been additionally stepping into making options, and , there’s been a rise. There was a rise that 12 months particularly, but it surely’s been clearly harm by the pandemic considerably.
DEADLINE: When do you anticipate the WGA Theater to reopen?
GOODMAN (laughs): Effectively, I don’t suppose we might make a plan on that till we knew it was completely secure for our members to congregate within the theater, so there aren’t any rapid plans for that, however definitely it’s one thing we predict quite a bit about.
DEADLINE: Within the early days of the pandemic the guild mentioned that it was closing its workplaces to nonessential folks and occasions. Have been workers furloughed?
GOODMAN: Effectively, workers labored from dwelling. They continued to work, they only labored from dwelling.
DEADLINE: No furloughs?
GOODMAN: No furloughs. We nonetheless wanted our workers as a result of writers have been nonetheless working and we would have liked processing of contracts, processing residuals, pension and well being – simply any points that members have been having, office points. The workers has completed an incredible job throughout this issue and there have been no furloughs, simply nobody coming to the workplace.
DEADLINE: What’s your large takeaway from the company marketing campaign? (Final month, with the signing of WME to its franchise settlement, the WGA received its two-year battle with the key businesses to rid them of conflicts of curiosity and return them to a ten% commissioning mannequin not seen in many years.)
GOODMAN: I’ve a couple of takeaways. One, I’m at all times so impressed with the intelligence and solidarity of our membership. Introduced with this challenge, they hung collectively longer than any of us anticipated we must, and I’m additionally now feeling superb about working with our businesses once more as companions. They’re stepping up, they need to be our writers’ companions. As , they fought onerous towards this, however as soon as they agreed to make offers with us, they’ve stepped up in nice methods.
I’ve been simply amazed that WME, the final to signal, has actually simply stepped up in a good way and supplied us with data, and we’ve already seen rapid advantages from it. We’ve collected over $100,000 in late charges from the studios since we’ve been capable of get invoices and contracts from our company companions, and that’s cash that’s come on to writers, and that was only one function of the company marketing campaign that’s already offering advantages to our members.
DEADLINE: Are any members complaining that their brokers received’t take them again? (In April of 2019, greater than 7,000 WGA members fired their brokers who wouldn’t signal the guild’s Code of Conduct.)
GOODMAN: I’ve heard that some writers weren’t taken again by their brokers; I’ve heard of some brokers that didn’t get their shoppers again. I’ve undoubtedly heard that, however I’ve additionally heard from many members that they really feel that their relationship with their agent has modified for the higher; that they really feel they’ve a transparent concept of who works for who and that the brokers who’re representing writers are actually stepping up and need to show their worth.
DEADLINE: Are you giving any thought to franchising or regulating private managers?
GOODMAN: Effectively, that’s a query that’s been raised by some members. I believe that can once more be as much as the membership to determine whether or not that’s a necessity. What’s fascinating concerning the company marketing campaign, which I believe has form of misplaced to historical past, is that it actually got here from members who felt that packaging charges and businesses changing into producers have been an issue. That bubbled up from the membership, so if the difficulties of the conflicts that managers characterize are sufficient to bubble up among the many members, then the guild will take it on.
I’m solely president for six extra months, so I don’t suppose we’re going to do it in that timeframe, but when the membership decides that this is a matter that we have to go together with, then the guild will cope with it.
DEADLINE: So that is your final time period as president.
GOODMAN: I say it each day to my spouse. I’m termed out. I might solely run in two consecutive phrases as president, however the extra essential challenge is I’ve been in management for 15 years. We now have what I believe is an distinctive group of writers in our management. It’s time for them to be entrance and heart. They’ve been doing the work. We now have enormously devoted writers, after which there are writers on the market who aren’t already within the management but who will run this 12 months and that’s how the guild stays vibrant, with a turnover within the management.
If the identical particular person is in management, the guild can’t develop and be taught from new members, and so I really feel superb about leaving as a result of the accomplishments of the guild whereas I’ve been president haven’t been my accomplishments alone; I’ve completed them with a very devoted group of people that will now take over and possibly get a bit bit extra of the credit score they deserve.
DEADLINE: What’s the most effective and worst issues about being president?
GOODMAN (laughs): That’s an excellent query. Nobody’s ever requested me that. You realize, the worst factor about being president is you’ve gotten a front-row seat for the large challenges confronted by our union when it comes to ensuring writers are paid what they deserve; caring for the problems particular person writers face; the dealing with off towards behemoth studios, and understanding how fragile a union might be that the issues that we’ve got, like our well being care and pension and our residuals and our minimums; that these are issues that with out the union can go away tomorrow, that we’re in a relentless battle to keep up what we’ve got. So the worst factor about it’s understanding simply how a lot of the chances are towards us.
The most effective factor about it’s linked to that, which is I’m continually amazed by how essential the guild is to its members, how particular person members are prepared to step up, to place their very own priorities apart and say, “Yeah, I’m going to undergo due to this however the union issues to me.” I perceive how essential that is. And in order that’s the most effective factor about it. Some folks will say to me, “Oh, you need to have gotten a variety of shit from members being president,” particularly through the company marketing campaign. However I acquired much more help, much more gratitude from individuals who understood how essential this struggle was, and that’s what I’ve found in each struggle the guild takes on. So, these are the most effective and worst issues about being president.
DEADLINE: How time-consuming is it?
GOODMAN: Effectively, being president of the guild over the past 12 months has been very time-consuming, no query about it. The company marketing campaign actually was in contrast to something we’ve tried, after which on high of it, when Covid hit, there have been so many points about member security and ensuring that writers wouldn’t need to threat their well being to return to work, and all kinds of different issues that put me within the heart of a variety of decision-making. And so I in all probability was president throughout a really troublesome interval to be president. I don’t know if it was as time-consuming for earlier presidents because it was for me, but it surely was very time-consuming. That’s one more reason I’m leaving.
DEADLINE: Are we speaking 20 hours per week or 40 or 60?
GOODMAN: (laughs) It simply actually relies upon. I even have a day job as a author, so it was nights, it was weekends, it was lunch hours, after which , generally my boss, Seth MacFarlane, at sure factors would reduce me slack and say. “It’s OK, go cope with it.” And I’m lucky that means in that I had an distinctive boss throughout this era.
DEADLINE: Let’s discuss range. Final June the guild’s TV inclusion report mentioned that writers might obtain parity in two years if present hiring tendencies proceed. Have been you stunned by that? Is it nonetheless on track?
GOODMAN: I don’t know the reply to the second query. I understand how essential the primary query is, that regardless of the guild can do to assist our numerous members after which additionally assist with the final tendencies of range and inclusion, it’s essential to management, and so I truly don’t know the reply to the query whether or not we’re nonetheless on track. Stunned or not, we will at all times do higher.
DEADLINE: Is tv forward of movie within the hiring of ladies and writers of colour?
GOODMAN: Yeah, the numbers in movie are dreadful, and we’re hoping to have interaction our employers on these points as a result of these numbers actually are dreadful and shameful. The guild doesn’t management hiring however we will definitely do what we will to advocate with our studio companions to raised their numbers.
DEADLINE: What accounts for that distinction?
GOODMAN: You realize, the historical past of the enterprise is white males getting the work. That’s all companies. So I believe that there are entrenched practices which are onerous to interrupt, however we’ve got to strive our greatest to interrupt them.
DEADLINE: That was so in tv, too, however they appear to be extra aware of range points.
GOODMAN: Yeah. Effectively, I believe that with the explosion of tv, there was no less than a recognition by some studios that there have been extra audiences to succeed in that wished to see numerous storylines, however there’ll nonetheless be points in tv as a result of although the numbers have gotten higher when it comes to writers – as an example, writers of colour being employed on the decrease ranges – there are nonetheless monumental problems with them not having the alternatives to maneuver up the ranks, to develop of their positions and so, , there’s nonetheless work to be completed, large work to be completed in that space.
I believe that as extra girls writers and writers of colour turn out to be showrunners, they then are doing the hiring, and in order that helps as nicely, however once more, there’s nonetheless a variety of work to be completed in that space.
DEADLINE: It appears that evidently the guild was in a roundabout way concerned in creating a back-to-work protocols.
GOODMAN: What was fascinating concerning the back-to-work protocols was that they have been decided by a committee that offers with security on units, and customarily talking, the Author’s Guild was by no means on that committee. Nevertheless, though the guild wasn’t, our members have been, as a result of our members are showrunners, and showrunners play an lively function on each present involving the back-to-work protocols. So, traditionally the guild is just not a part of that security committee that often offers with , hiring and set security. That’s not the purview of the Author’s Guild, however members who’re showrunners have been completely concerned within the back-to-work protocols.
DEADLINE: OK, only a couple extra questions. What’s David Younger actually like?
GOODMAN (laughs): You don’t know?
DEADLINE: I’ve an concept.
GOODMAN: David Younger is likely one of the most gifted negotiators and best advocate for writers that the guild has ever identified. I imply, it’s humorous that he will get this popularity as a hothead. I misplaced my mood much more through the company marketing campaign than he did. You realize, he’s painted by the press as somebody who doesn’t perceive Hollywood; who’s an outsider who simply desires to explode the enterprise, and that’s an try by whoever we’re engaged with, whether or not it was the industries or whether or not it was the studios, to attempt to undermine members’ confidence in him. However the members have now seen this man dedicate his profession to serving to us.
He’s negotiated extra landmark offers for writers than any govt director that we’ve ever had. On a private word, David is a really down-to-earth man and a really straight shooter; very sincere, very forthright. He has opinions, however he’s additionally extremely collaborative. I take into account myself so fortunate to have gotten to work with him. I’ve been in management for 15 years, and he’s been govt director the entire time. For somebody who doesn’t work within the enterprise, he understands the enterprise higher than most individuals who do, and he definitely understands what writers want for his or her union.
DEADLINE: I need to ask you concerning the awards present. How a lot more durable, or simpler, is it to placed on a digital awards present?
GOODMAN: I believe it’s completely different expertise. I’m not actively concerned in placing on the awards present; we’ve got a very nice producing workforce who’re doing an distinctive job. I believe that as a result of we’ve been dwelling in a digital world for this final 12 months, it in all probability helps when it comes to expectations. If we needed to placed on a digital awards present final 12 months, it may need been tougher. However I believe it’ll be an excellent present from what I’ve seen of it. However it’s unhappy, although, as a result of I believe the Author’s Guild Awards and the ceremony, it was at all times an opportunity for folks to see one another in particular person, however I additionally acknowledge how essential it’s that we’re nonetheless going to be honoring the good work that our members did this 12 months.
DEADLINE: I believe it’s in all probability going to be cheaper to place it on nearly.
GOODMAN: I truly don’t know the reply to that, however in all probability. Most likely, yeah. I imply, definitely we might spend much less on tuxedo leases (laughs).
DEADLINE: That’s an excellent one. I assumed that Past Phrases was actually good this 12 months, actually good. (Past Phrases, a panel dialogue that includes the WGA Awards nominees for finest unique and tailored screenplays, was performed nearly for the primary time this 12 months.)
GOODMAN: Yeah, it was. I noticed that, too. You might have such an articulate group of individuals speaking about their work, and as a author, you simply eat it up; you simply love watching these nice writers discuss their work, speak to one another. One in all my favourite components of being a member of the guild is getting to listen to writers discuss their work.
DEADLINE: Final query about Sunday’s awards present. Who’s going to win Greatest Authentic Screenplay?
GOODMAN (laughs): I by no means make predictions, Dave.
DEADLINE: You don’t know?
GOODMAN: No. It’s a troublesome subject. I really like all these motion pictures, they have been all distinctive. I’m not going to let you know who I voted for, but it surely was a really powerful selection as a result of I liked all these motion pictures.
DEADLINE: The rest that you just’d wish to say that I haven’t requested you about?
GOODMAN: I used to be sure you have been going to ask about 2023 negotiations (laughs). However I’ve nothing to say about it.