WGA Low Budget Agreement and the WGAw Independent Writers Caucus

(November 2002)

This Agent Alert! summarizes the Guild’s Low Budget Agreement (LBA) for films budgeted at $750,000 and below and includes information about the newly established WGAw Independent Writers Caucus.

Low Budget Agreement — This agreement enables your non-WGA clients to become Guild members and enhances creative rights for Guild members and non-members. Also, producers may now defer the script purchase fee and the writer’s first rewrite, enabling them to raise additional production capital and attract the director and performers.

The Low Budget Agreement is offered to WGA members and non-members for purchases of existing screenplays and one rewrite.

It is not for development.

The agreement applies to films budgeted at $750,000 and below.

The writer must apply for use of the agreement. With the writer’s consent, the agreement allows a Company to defer payment of all or part of the compensation for the screenplay purchase and/or all or part of the compensation for the first rewrite, based on a negotiation between the writer and the Company. However, upon commencement of principal photography, if the budget of the film is over $500,000 and below $750,000, the Company must pay at least $10,000 to the writer and apply this against any deferred monies owing for the screenplay. The Company may defer the remaining portion of money due until receipt of first revenue after (1) recoupment or (2) commercial distribution, whichever is earlier.

The Company must pay a script publication fee of $5,000, which is due 30 days after final determination of the writing credits on the Picture. The fee gives the Company the right to publish the screenplay on videodiscs/videocassettes (and is payable even if there is no planned publication).

The writers of original screenplays may not be rewritten without their permission. Writers of an adapted screenplay shall be offered the opportunity to perform the first rewrite.

Writers may also negotiate for increased backend minimums or backend residuals, a percentage of gross profit participation, and/or additional creative rights.

The Company must be or become a signatory to the WGA Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement and sign all required documents. If applicable, the Low Budget Agreement will also be signed and apply to the particular film project.

Except as modified by the Low Budget Agreement, all other provisions in the Guild contract apply, including but not limited to residuals, credits, pension and health, and separated rights.

If the film is not made within 18 months, the writer is entitled to reacquire the literary material.

The WGAw Independent Writers Caucus has been established to achieve the following goals:

To increase emerging writer/filmmaker membership in the WGAw

To expand writers’ coverage through the use of WGA Agreements, particularly in the low budget/independent film market

To help writers realize their voice on screen while enhancing their standard of living through Guild benefits and protections

To raise the writers’ status and influence within the low budget/independent film community

Caucus Eligibility and Benefits:

The writer must be a United States resident and pay an annual $75 fee. There will be no additional fee for current WGAw members.

In addition, the writer applicant must fulfill at least one of the three following criteria:

1. The writer has been accepted to and fulfilled the requirements of a highly regarded and/or accredited domestic screenwriting program and, in connection with the program, completed a feature length narrative screenplay.


2. The writer’s feature length narrative film was produced and the film was exhibited at a highly regarded film festival.


3. The writer was a nominee and/or winner of a highly regarded domestic or international feature length narrative screenwriting award.

WGAw Independent Writers Caucus writers receive Associate Membership Status - Caucus members will receive all Guild mailings and communications, including Written By or like publications, the WGAw Manual and its periodic updates; may serve on WGAw Independent Writers Caucus committees and certain Guild committees as designated by the Board of Directors; may receive invitations to IWC-related events; may use the Guild’s Intellectual Property Registry at the reduced rate for Guild members; may join the Guild’s Film Society subject to availability in any given year as determined by the Board; may become members of the Inter-Guild Federal Credit Union or its successor subject to the discretion of that entity’s governing body; may be entitled to participate, if otherwise eligible, in any employment access program administered by the Guild’s Human Resources Department; and may be eligible for participation in the WGA alternative health plan through Foundation Health HMO.

Please contact the WGAw’s Independent Film Program at (323) 782-4511 to request a copy of the Low Budget Agreement or a WGAw Independent Writers Caucus application.