One of the arguments the agencies are making – quite vociferously – is that we, writers, will never see a penny of the money that we are forcing the agencies to give back to the studios.
This is a funny argument for them to make – and one that they should be very careful about.
Does it strike anyone as odd that at the same time they tell us how powerful and effective they are in protecting and promoting writers – how without them we would be lost – they also tell us they are impotent – utterly powerless – to recoup even a percentage of the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be returned to the pot by the demise of packaging fees?
Which one is it? Are you effective allies in the battle with the studios or are you not?
Would they also argue that the rollback in above-scale pay that has happened on their watch, now that it has gone back into the pockets of the studios, will never be returned to writers in any amount, at any point? That’s the logical extension of their argument. Once the studios have the money, nothing will make them release it – not an expansion in profitability of the business, not steadily rising budgets, not the implications of supply and demand, not excellence in representation by the very finest of agents? Nothing? That’s it? It’s all gone?
Most writers would like to know that – before we fork over even 10% of our income to agencies that very publicly tell us that they are useless in negotiating with the studios.
Or maybe the argument they make about the money is only just that – an argument meant to protect their own self-interest and to abandon ours.
And isn’t that telling? In a world in which their bargaining acumen and strategy has permitted a steady, meaningful decline in our salaries and yet has been 100% effective in protecting packaging fees? They feel perfectly comfortable scaring writers into believing that what we’ve got is the best we can do.
That’s a ruthless, self-serving argument. And you can bet that when these ruthless, self-serving agents are faced with the economic reality that they only earn a dollar when we earn ten, they will find a way to squeeze a few more bucks out of the system – for writers and themselves.