Paul Schrader Weighs in on AI Writing Debate: WGA ‘Doesn’t Fear’ AI, Fears Not Getting Paid

"Writers will be the first users of AI, not studios," Schrader wrote on his Facebook page.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 29: Paul Schrader attends the 2021 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on November 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
Paul Schrader at the 2021 Gotham Awards
Courtesy of Taylor Hill / FilmMagic

Since May 2, members of the Writers Guild of America have been on strike in demand of higher minimum wages, overhauled residuals, and various other issues brought up during negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. One particularly contentious issue is the use of artificial intelligence in screenwriting, which WGA leadership has requested be regulated in order to protect writers’ working standards such as compensation, credits, and residuals.

Now, filmmaker and elite Facebook poster Paul Schrader is weighing in on the issue. In a post published Thursday, Schrader called the WGA’s position on AI “a fascinating conundrum,” saying he believes it is inevitable that the technology will become a major tool in screenwriting.

“The Guild doesn’t fear AI as much as it fears not getting paid. Burrow into that logic. It’s apparent that AI will become a force in film entertainment” Schrader wrote. “Do you need a new episode of ‘CSI: Vegas?’ ChapchatGPT [sic] will deliver that in a matter of seconds. And it will be good, it will cull all the episodes of CSI for the last 20 years and come up with something both generic and contemporary.”

Schrader further wrote that he believes writers will become the first users of AI, instead of the studios, using it to write episodes of shows while claiming they wrote it themselves. The director summed up the WGA’s official position on the subject: “If a WGA member employs AI, he/she should be paid as a writer. If a producer uses AI to create a script, they must find a WGA member to pay.”

Best known for his scripts to films like “Taxi Driver” and directing movies like “American Gigolo” and “First Reformed,” Schrader has a reputation for weighing in on contentious Hollywood issues via his Facebook posts. Earlier this year, he proclaimed that he would vote for Andrea Riseborough for Best Actress after the late-breaking “To Leslie” campaign was the subject of a contentious Academy investigation; he later admitted he hasn’t watched the Oscars in 10 or 15 years.

Aside from his Facebook posts, Schrader also wrote his next film, “Master Gardener.” The film, which stars Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, and Quintessa Swindell, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival last September to positive reviews and will be released by Magnolia Pictures on May 19.

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