I think that there seems to be some argument that it’s too complicated to figure out. But there’s content – You can decide that people get paid based on how much you charge for it or for how many people see it. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me. There are low budget movies and writers get paid less if the budget’s very low. Over a certain budget, there’s a different minimum. It all can be figured out if people want to figure it out.
The full interview after the jump.
from IGN TV:
IGN’s Los Angeles office is right nearby the Sony Studios lot and with the Writers Guild strike now underway, IGN Movies’ Stax, IGN TV’s Travis Fickett and myself paid a visit to the Sony gates today to speak to the first wave of picketing writers. Like all the other studio lots around town, a large group of WGA members were out in force holding up signs supporting their guild, and Judd Apatow was among their number.
Apatow’s credits as a writer, producer and director are numerous, including Freaks and Geeks, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Apatow was standing right nearby a billboard for on the Sony lot for Superbad, a film he produced, as he told me his thoughts on the strike and what could be done to end it.
Referencing the discussions between the WGA and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers) seemingly having broken down completely at the moment, Apatow, who is not on the negotiating committee for the WGA, said “I just think that they need to continue to talk. I only get nervous when it becomes about posturing and gamesmanship. I think people should stay in a room and not come out until they have figured it out.”
Apatow says he wasn’t sure what it would take to get the sides to come to an agreement, noting “It’s my first up close observation of any of this, so I don’t really understand how this particular game is played. I do know that I agree with everything that the Writers Guild is trying to accomplish and it’s very important that this gets handled at this point in time. I don’t think people really understand the issues. It’s unfortunate that they don’t clearly understand what this fight is about.”
One of the main conflicts the Writers Guild have with the AMPTP is over new media, such as digital downloads of TV series or movies, which writers currently receive no residuals for. I asked Apatow how he might explain the reason for the strike to the general public, and he addressed the new media issue using an analogy, saying “Here’s how I would explain it: If you’re a teamster, you get paid to drive a truck. But if someone invents a new kind of truck, and you’re still driving it, you should still get paid.” Apatow noted that watching TV or movies online is becoming more and more common, remarking “We’re switching trucks at this point. But if someone comes up with a three wheel truck, you’re still driving!”
The AMPTP currently seems unwilling to budge on the issue of new media. Apatow mused on the AMPTP’s reasoning for this, saying “I think that there seems to be some argument that it’s too complicated to figure out. But there’s content – You can decide that people get paid based on how much you charge for it or for how many people see it. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me. There are low budget movies and writers get paid less if the budget’s very low. Over a certain budget, there’s a different minimum. It all can be figured out if people want to figure it out.” As for the AMPTP wanting to call certain online presentations of TV series or films “promotion”, which wouldn’t qualify for payment to writers, Apatow firmly declared “Entertainment is not promotion! It’s as simple as that. An episode of The Office is not promotion. It’s The Office! It’s a show.”
So how long might the strike last? Apatow wasn’t sure, but did say “I know it’s worth striking for and hopefully everyone will want it to end as quickly as possible. I don’t think any good comes from it lasting a long time. I don’t think it’ll get figured out much differently if it takes a long time or a short amount of time.”
I asked Apatow if he was one of many writers rushing to finish a project this past weekend before the strike began and he replied “I’m not in a writing mode right now so it didn’t disrupt anything. I wasn’t rushing anything.” Apatow is as busy as ever as a producer – Besides films coming next year, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express, he also has Walk Hard about to open. However, he said that his work as a producer wasn’t proving too much of a conflict with his position as a striking writer, explaining “We’re in the final stages of sound mixing Walk Hard. But all the writing work is done and the sound mix is actually done this week, so I have plenty of time to give.”
“I’ll be out here a fair amount,” Apatow remarked, referring to the picket line. “I think it’s important to support the guild and I’ve certainly benefited from all of the sacrifices people have made in the past with the minimums and health care and all that. It’s time for everyone to give back for the people in the future.”