“Free work” means uncompensated writing services requested by a producer or studio. It can take a number of different forms: free rewrites or “producer passes,” “pre-work,” and extra-contractual writing. Because there may not always be an enforcement option under the MBA, the surest way to avoid being taken advantage of is to say NO to free work. The Guild is here to support you to resist demands for free work.

Please reach out to Enforcement Specialist Shelagh Wagener if you are dealing with a free work issue, or would like to learn more about the Guild’s efforts in this area


In almost every case, it is the writer alone who has the right to determine when literary material is ready for delivery to the studio and payment is due. A producer, studio executive or director cannot demand uncompensated writing. Moreover, under the MBA, payment cannot be contingent upon certain criteria, e.g., whether the Company approves of your literary material or obtains financing. Additionally, the MBA requires your contract to identify who is authorized to request additional work and accept delivery.

Under the MBA, payment is due within 48 hours after delivery. Interest at the rate of 1.5% per month accrues on any unpaid initial compensation, starting on the 8th day after delivery. Contact the WGAW Legal Department at (323) 782-4521 as soon as you realize that you have not been paid on time or use the online Late Pay Form.


The Guild has taken a number of steps to address the free work problem. In the 2023 MBA, the Guild won key provisions to combat free work abuse. Following the Agency campaign, the Guild implemented a program of individual outreach to screenwriters around free work issues. We have successfully obtained compensation owed to writers for both guaranteed and extra-contractual writing steps, along with interest for late payment.

We’ve also counseled writers about the best way to resist producer passes based on their individual circumstances and launched the Project Page to assist writers in making informed decisions about the projects they pitch on.

As mentioned at the top, Enforcement Specialist Shelagh Wagener can advise you if you are dealing with a free work issue, or would like to learn more about the Guild’s initiatives to deal with the free work problem