If you are a writer interested in selling or developing an animated project, you can negotiate WGA coverage, even though not all types of animation are automatically covered by the MBA.
You must be clear upfront that you want your project to be Guild-covered and in some cases be willing to push hard for a Guild deal. Securing WGA coverage for your animated project has significant benefits, which can include:
- Pension and health benefits including paid parental leave;
- Guild-determined writing credit;
- Safeguards such as Options & Exclusivity and Span;
- WGA minimum compensation, including script fees; and
- Separated rights in original story material.
The Guild has successfully negotiated coverage for animated series, including in broadcast (Duncanville, The Great North, Housebroken, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, The Simpsons), cable (Pantheon, Tuca & Bertie, American Dad), and for streaming platforms Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon, Paramount+ Apple and Hulu (Big Mouth, Human Resources, Central Park, Solar Opposites, Q-Force, Hoops, The Prince, F is for Family, Bojack Horseman, Paradise PD, Undone, Ricky & Cricket, Tooning Out the News, Disenchantment), in addition to animated feature projects, such as the soon-to-be-released Wendell & Wild for Netflix and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run for Paramount.
If you are offered a deal for an animated project, 1) insist upon WGA coverage at the outset, and 2) make sure that the company in question uses an existing signatory to the MBA or becomes a signatory to cover animation.
If you are not yet a WGAW member, writing on a Guild-covered animation project will give you units towards qualifying for Guild membership.
For more information, contact Shelagh Wagener in the WGAW Member Organizing Department.
Are animated projects automatically covered by the WGA and Working Rule 8?
No. Animation writing can be covered by either the WGA or the IATSE Local 839. As a result, writers can insist that their animated projects be WGA but the WGA can’t require them to get their work covered, it must be voluntary. Working Rule 8 prohibits WGA members from performing writing services for a non-signatory company but Federal labor law prevents the WGA from enforcing this rule in cases where there is another union.
In the early 1970s, animation writers asked the WGA to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to sever animation writers from Local 839’s multi-employer unit. The Labor Board denied the petition for many reasons, including the long historical precedent of animators and writers in one unit. The only other strategy for writers to opt out of jurisdictional coverage by Local 839 would be a decertification by the entire bargaining unit (animators and writers), an anti-union approach we do not endorse or encourage. The only path forward for WGA coverage in animation is for writers to demand it both individually and collectively.
How do I get a WGA agreement for my animated project?
You will need to insist that project be Guild at the outset. Since animation is not automatically covered under the MBA, coverage is negotiable. Please contact the Member Organizing Department to work with you and any other writers on the project to gain coverage. Because we regularly communicate with writers of animated projects who have recently secured WGA deals, you can benefit from their experiences.
Once the company agrees to cover your project, the Contracts Department at (323) 782-4501 can help negotiate your deal.
Are there special minimum rates for animation?
The WGA Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) has negotiated rates for live action projects that can also apply to animation projects. So can MBA provisions regarding residuals, credits, separation of rights, span, exclusivity, paid parental leave, and pension and health contributions. Some animated projects have terms that are better than MBA minimums. The goal is to get the best possible deal for writers. The MBA Schedule of Minimums is posted on the WGAW’s website.
I'm not sure if the project is going to be live action or animated, so how is that handled?
It will benefit you to secure a WGA contract whether the project originates as a live action or animated project. You or your representative should email or call the WGAW Contracts Department at (323) 782-4501 to get help in negotiating language that covers all contingencies.
Can I join the WGA if I'm already a member of another union that covers animation?
You may join the WGAW even if you are a member of another union.
Having a WGA agreement in place would be great, but how do I go about communicating with fellow writers who work in animation?
We welcome your participation! Contact the Member Organizing Department to find out about opportunities to get involved in animation organizing.