The 2023 ATX TV Festival is hosting an unprecedented Writers Strike Conversation in support of the ongoing WGA strike.
The strike, which formally began May 2, has led to the shut down of multiple productions in solidarity with the demonstrations. The ATX TV Festival has pivoted accordingly to announce the scrapping of certain programming with writers and showrunners unable to attend under strike guidelines. However, the festival has added a WGA on Strike! program with select WGA East and West members to address the ongoing concerns.
The ATX TV Festival announced an added conversation with some of TV’s leading writers discussing the current WGA Writers Strike. The panelists will discuss first-hand the issues at stake, the changes they’re fighting for, and why the strike is necessary to safeguard the future of not just writers, but all entertainment unions and creatives, per an official press release.
“ATX TV Festival has always been a place of celebration and community. It is where important conversations are had about the history and future of television in a safe and inclusive environment,” co-presidents and founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson said in a joint statement. “We will maintain these tenants as we believe education and conversation between both Industry and Consumers are needed now more than ever.”
The statement continued, “There wouldn’t be television without writers. They have always been the rock stars of our festival, and though this year will look a little different, it will continue to be a place to showcase their talents and importance. The stories and characters we care so deeply about would not exist without them, and neither would this festival.”
The ATX TV co-founders have been in discussions with the WGA to ensure they are following strike compliance rules in how they support the needs of both their partners and panelists. Due to this, they have made changes to the programming and schedule including both additions and cancellations to the festival.
Programming cancellations include the “Dawson’s Creek” 25th-anniversary screening and conversation, “Tiny Beautiful Things” with Liz Tigelaar and Cheryl Strayed, “Andor”: a Conversation with Tony Gilroy, and a panel with “Late Night With Seth Meyers” writers. As ATX TV Festival accompanied the announcement, “These members of the WGA support and believe in their series and teams, but stand with the WGA at this time and will not be attending.”
Instead, a panel dedicated to the 2023 WGA Strike will take place in lieu of the those programs. The WGA on Strike! panel will feature writers Damon Lindelof (WGA West), Zoanne Clack (WGA West), Julie Plec (WGA West), and WGA East negotiating committee member Greg Iwinski in conversation with moderator Beau Willimon (WGA East). The discussion will range topics including fair pay, streaming residuals, artificial intelligence, the size of writers rooms, and on-set experience, leading writers of the WGA to go pencils down for the first time in 15 years.
Other programming additions include Beyond the Page, Why Do You Write?, Queer Stories We Want To See, and …The End.
Per ATX TV Festival, studios and networks have shifted programming representation as needed, focusing on actors, directors, DPs, casting, costumes, music, non-writing producers, and more. ATX TV has shifted all writing conversations to focus on the importance and craft of writing as well as broad topical panels such as “Why Do You Write?” and the festival’s programming track with Hollywood, Health, and Society, which focuses on social issues in storytelling such as Climate Change, AI, Criminal Justice, and Aging & Caregiving.
ATX TV Festival’s Pitch Competition presented by Canva, and supported by Rooster Teeth and Maxwell, Locke & Ritter, and in partnership with The Black List and Sundance Episodic Labs, will continue as planned as the focus of the Competition is education, mentorship, and preparing a new group of writers for the next steps in their careers. Judges will include writers, showrunners, and producers.
IndieWire’s parent company Penske Media Corporation acquired the ATX TV Festival in November 2022.