David A. Goodman has been president of the WGA West since 2017, and can time period out in September, bringing to an finish one of many guild’s most consequential presidencies. In this interview, he displays on what it was prefer to be president throughout probably the most difficult 12 months within the historical past of the movie and tv business, and on the WGA’s historic marketing campaign to reshape the expertise company enterprise – and what could lie forward if members resolve to tackle the enterprise practices of non-public managers, as effectively. He additionally spoke about how the movie business lags far behind tv when it comes to variety and inclusion, and about what David Young, the guild’s longtime govt director, is de facto like.
Goodman, a author and govt producer on Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville, was relaxed and in good spirits when he spoke with Deadline on Thursday, the identical day he received his first Covid-19 vaccination shot, and forward of Sunday’s digital WGA Awards present.
WGA Awards Film Nominations: ‘Trial Of The Chicago 7’, ‘Sound Of Metal’, ‘One Night In Miami’, ‘Borat’, ‘Palm Springs’ & More
DEADLINE: First query, how are you and the guild holding up through the pandemic?
GOODMAN: It’s been a worrying 12 months definitely for our members. We’ve been lucky that many writers have been capable of proceed working throughout this final 12 months I feel, nonetheless, there have been clearly some writers who haven’t, however we’re lucky in that the studios that we work for needed to maintain writers working in order that when the difficulties of the pandemic got here to an finish, they might have one thing to make. So we’ve been lucky that approach, nevertheless it’s been worrying, with the writers working in Zoom rooms, and clearly, the ache of the pandemic itself, the tragedy of it. I do know many writers who misplaced individuals throughout this 12 months. I personally knew individuals who died from this. It’s very upsetting and we’re relieved, at the very least, that we as nation see a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel.
DEADLINE: So, there hasn’t been a big decline in members’ earnings this final 12 months?
GOODMAN: Not actually; not a big one. I don’t know the numbers, however the contributions to our well being plan continued and that meant that individuals have been getting employed and getting paid. I don’t need to diminish the difficulties that writers have confronted, as a result of there have been difficulties, but additionally quite a lot of writers labored final 12 months, too.
DEADLINE: Are writing rooms smaller now due to the pandemic?
GOODMAN: There’s been a development in writers’ rooms being smaller that’s been occurring for years. I don’t know that that’s a results of the pandemic, though it could have been exacerbated by it, however that development of smaller rooms, as a result of there have been shorter orders, has been a development that’s been occurring for a very long time. It could have been lastly exacerbated by the pandemic. I don’t know that we all know that, however I feel rooms have been getting smaller over time and it’s been one thing we’ve clearly been involved about.
On the flip aspect you have got 500 tv reveals, which in 2019 employed extra writers than at any time within the historical past of the Guild. We had extra writers really working throughout that 12 months as a result of there have been so many reveals, so many roles, and since additionally the streaming platforms have been additionally entering into making options, and you recognize, there’s been a rise. There was a rise that 12 months particularly, nevertheless it’s been clearly damage by the pandemic considerably.
DEADLINE: When do you count on the WGA Theater to reopen?
GOODMAN (laughs): Well, I don’t assume we might make a plan on that till we knew it was completely protected for our members to congregate within the theater, so there are not any speedy plans for that, however definitely it’s one thing we expect rather a lot about.
DEADLINE: In the early days of the pandemic the guild mentioned that it was closing its workplaces to nonessential individuals and occasions. Were employees furloughed?
GOODMAN: Well, employees labored from dwelling. They continued to work, they only labored from dwelling.
DEADLINE: No furloughs?
GOODMAN: No furloughs. We nonetheless wanted our employees as a result of writers have been nonetheless working and we would have liked processing of contracts, processing residuals, pension and well being – simply any points that members have been having, office points. The employees has completed an incredible job throughout this problem and there have been no furloughs, simply nobody coming to the workplace.
DEADLINE: What’s your huge takeaway from the company marketing campaign? (Last month, with the signing of WME to its franchise settlement, the WGA received its two-year battle with the most important businesses to rid them of conflicts of curiosity and return them to a ten% commissioning mannequin not seen in many years.)
GOODMAN: I’ve a number of takeaways. One, I’m at all times so impressed with the intelligence and solidarity of our membership. Presented with this difficulty, they hung collectively longer than any of us anticipated we must, and I’m additionally now feeling excellent about working with our businesses once more as companions. They are stepping up, they need to be our writers’ companions. As you recognize, they fought arduous towards this, however as soon as they agreed to make offers with us, they’ve stepped up in nice methods.
I’ve been simply amazed that WME, the final to signal, has actually simply stepped up in an effective way and offered us with information, and we’ve already seen speedy advantages from it. We’ve collected over $100,000 in late charges from the studios since we’ve been capable of get invoices and contracts from our company companions, and that’s cash that’s come on to writers, and that was only one function of the company marketing campaign that’s already offering advantages to our members.
DEADLINE: Are any members complaining that their brokers received’t take them again? (In April of 2019, greater than 7,000 WGA members fired their brokers who wouldn’t signal the guild’s Code of Conduct.)
GOODMAN: I’ve heard that some writers weren’t taken again by their brokers; I’ve heard of some brokers that didn’t get their shoppers again. I’ve undoubtedly heard that, however I’ve additionally heard from many members that they really feel that their relationship with their agent has modified for the higher; that they really feel they’ve a transparent thought of who works for who and that the brokers who’re representing writers are actually stepping up and need to show their worth.
DEADLINE: Are you giving any thought to franchising or regulating private managers?
GOODMAN: Well, that’s a query that’s been raised by some members. I feel that may once more be as much as the membership to resolve whether or not that’s a necessity. What’s fascinating in regards to the company marketing campaign, which I feel has type of misplaced to historical past, is that it actually got here from members who felt that packaging charges and businesses turning into producers have been an issue. That bubbled up from the membership, so if the difficulties of the conflicts that managers symbolize are sufficient to bubble up among the many members, then the guild will take it on.
I’m solely president for six extra months, so I don’t assume we’re going to do it in that time-frame, but when the membership decides that this is a matter that we have to go along with, then the guild will cope with it.
DEADLINE: So that is your final time period as president.
GOODMAN: I say it on daily basis to my spouse. I’m termed out. I may solely run in two consecutive phrases as president, however the extra necessary difficulty is I’ve been in management for 15 years. We now have what I feel is an distinctive group of writers in our management. It is time for them to be entrance and heart. They’ve been doing the work. We have enormously devoted writers, after which there are writers on the market who aren’t already within the management but who will run this 12 months and that’s how the guild stays vibrant, with a turnover within the management.
If the identical individual is in management, the guild can’t develop and study from new members, and so I really feel excellent about leaving as a result of the accomplishments of the guild whereas I’ve been president haven’t been my accomplishments alone; I’ve completed them with a very devoted group of people that will now take over and perhaps get slightly bit extra of the credit score they deserve.
DEADLINE: What’s the perfect and worst issues about being president?
GOODMAN (laughs): That’s a great query. No one’s ever requested me that. You know, the worst factor about being president is you have got a front-row seat for the big challenges confronted by our union when it comes to ensuring writers are paid what they deserve; caring for the problems particular person writers face; the going through off towards behemoth studios, and understanding how fragile a union might be that the issues that we now have, like our well being care and pension and our residuals and our minimums; that these are issues that with out the union can go away tomorrow, that we’re in a continuing battle to take care of what we now have. So the worst factor about it’s understanding simply how a lot of the percentages are towards us.
The smartest thing about it’s linked to that, which is I’m always amazed by how necessary the guild is to its members, how particular person members are prepared to step up, to place their very own priorities apart and say, “Yeah, I am going to suffer because of this but the union matters to me.” I perceive how necessary that is. And in order that’s the perfect factor about it. Some individuals will say to me, “Oh, you must have gotten a lot of shit from members being president,” particularly through the company marketing campaign. But I received much more help, much more gratitude from individuals who understood how necessary this struggle was, and that’s what I’ve found in each struggle the guild takes on. So, these are the perfect and worst issues about being president.
DEADLINE: How time-consuming is it?
GOODMAN: Well, being president of the guild over the past 12 months has been very time-consuming, no query about it. The company marketing campaign actually was in contrast to something we’ve tried, after which on high of it, when Covid hit, there have been so many points about member security and ensuring that writers wouldn’t need to danger their well being to return to work, and all kinds of different issues that put me within the heart of quite a lot of decision-making. And so I most likely was president throughout a really tough interval to be president. I don’t know if it was as time-consuming for earlier presidents because it was for me, nevertheless it was very time-consuming. That’s one more reason I’m leaving.
DEADLINE: Are we speaking 20 hours per week or 40 or 60?
GOODMAN: (laughs) It simply actually relies upon. I even have a day job as a author, so it was nights, it was weekends, it was lunch hours, after which you recognize, generally my boss, Seth MacFarlane, at sure factors would minimize me slack and say. “It’s OK, go deal with it.” And I’m lucky that approach in that I had an distinctive boss throughout this era.
DEADLINE: Let’s speak about variety. Last June the guild’s TV inclusion report mentioned that writers may obtain parity in two years if present hiring developments proceed. Were you shocked by that? Is it nonetheless heading in the right direction?
GOODMAN: I don’t know the reply to the second query. I understand how necessary the primary query is, that regardless of the guild can do to assist our various members after which additionally assist with the final developments of variety and inclusion, it’s essential to management, and so I really don’t know the reply to the query whether or not we’re nonetheless heading in the right direction. Surprised or not, we are able to at all times do higher.
DEADLINE: Is tv forward of movie within the hiring of girls and writers of coloration?
GOODMAN: Yeah, the numbers in movie are dreadful, and we’re hoping to interact our employers on these points as a result of these numbers actually are dreadful and shameful. The guild doesn’t management hiring however we are able to definitely do what we are able to to advocate with our studio companions to higher their numbers.
DEADLINE: What accounts for that distinction?
GOODMAN: You know, the historical past of the enterprise is white males getting the work. That’s all companies. So I feel that there are entrenched practices which might be arduous to interrupt, however we now have to strive our greatest to interrupt them.
DEADLINE: That was so in tv, too, however they appear to be extra attentive to variety points.
GOODMAN: Yeah. Well, I feel that with the explosion of tv, there was at the very least a recognition by some studios that there have been extra audiences to achieve that needed to see various storylines, however there’ll nonetheless be points in tv as a result of despite the fact that the numbers have gotten higher when it comes to writers – for example, writers of coloration being employed on the decrease ranges – there are nonetheless monumental problems with them not having the alternatives to maneuver up the ranks, to develop of their positions and so, you recognize, there’s nonetheless work to be completed, huge work to be completed in that space.
I feel that as extra ladies writers and writers of coloration develop into showrunners, they then are doing the hiring, and in order that helps as effectively, however once more, there’s nonetheless quite a lot of work to be completed in that space.
DEADLINE: It appears that the guild was circuitously concerned in growing a back-to-work protocols.
GOODMAN: What was fascinating in regards to the back-to-work protocols was that they have been decided by a committee that offers with security on units, and usually talking, the Writer’s Guild was by no means on that committee. However, though the guild wasn’t, our members have been, as a result of our members are showrunners, and showrunners play an energetic function on each present involving the back-to-work protocols. So, traditionally the guild shouldn’t be a part of that security committee that often offers with you recognize, hiring and set security. That’s not the purview of the Writer’s Guild, however members who’re showrunners have been completely concerned within the back-to-work protocols.
DEADLINE: OK, only a couple extra questions. What’s David Young actually like?
GOODMAN (laughs): You don’t know?
DEADLINE: I’ve an thought.
GOODMAN: David Young is likely one of the most gifted negotiators and best advocate for writers that the guild has ever identified. I imply, it’s humorous that he will get this repute as a hothead. I misplaced my mood much more through the company marketing campaign than he did. You know, he’s painted by the press as somebody who doesn’t perceive Hollywood; who’s an outsider who simply needs to explode the enterprise, and that’s an try by whoever we’re engaged with, whether or not it was the industries or whether or not it was the studios, to attempt to undermine members’ confidence in him. But the members have now seen this man dedicate his profession to serving to us.
He’s negotiated extra landmark offers for writers than any govt director that we’ve ever had. On a private word, David is a really down-to-earth man and a really straight shooter; very trustworthy, very forthright. He has opinions, however he’s additionally extremely collaborative. I contemplate myself so fortunate to have gotten to work with him. I’ve been in management for 15 years, and he’s been govt director the entire time. For somebody who doesn’t work within the enterprise, he understands the enterprise higher than most individuals who do, and he definitely understands what writers want for his or her union.
DEADLINE: I need to ask you in regards to the awards present. How a lot more durable, or simpler, is it to placed on a digital awards present?
GOODMAN: I feel it’s completely different abilities. I’m not actively concerned in placing on the awards present; we now have a very nice producing crew who’re doing an distinctive job. I feel that as a result of we’ve been dwelling in a digital world for this final 12 months, it most likely helps when it comes to expectations. If we needed to placed on a digital awards present final 12 months, it may need been tougher. But I feel it’ll be a great present from what I’ve seen of it. But it’s unhappy, although, as a result of I feel the Writer’s Guild Awards and the ceremony, it was at all times an opportunity for individuals to see one another in individual, however I additionally acknowledge how necessary it’s that we’re nonetheless going to be honoring the good work that our members did this 12 months.
DEADLINE: I feel it’s most likely going to be cheaper to place it on nearly.
GOODMAN: I really don’t know the reply to that, however most likely. Probably, yeah. I imply, definitely we might spend much less on tuxedo leases (laughs).
DEADLINE: That’s a great one. I assumed that Beyond Words was actually good this 12 months, actually good. (Beyond Words, a panel dialogue that includes the WGA Awards nominees for greatest unique and tailored screenplays, was carried out nearly for the primary time this 12 months.)
GOODMAN: Yeah, it was. I noticed that, too. You have such an articulate group of individuals speaking about their work, and as a author, you simply eat it up; you simply love watching these nice writers speak about their work, discuss to one another. One of my favourite elements of being a member of the guild is getting to listen to writers speak about their work.
DEADLINE: Last query about Sunday’s awards present. Who’s going to win Best Original Screenplay?
GOODMAN (laughs): I by no means make predictions, Dave.
DEADLINE: You don’t know?
GOODMAN: No. It’s a troublesome area. I really like all these films, they have been all distinctive. I’m not going to inform you who I voted for, nevertheless it was a really powerful alternative as a result of I cherished all these films.
DEADLINE: Anything else that you simply’d prefer to say that I haven’t requested you about?
GOODMAN: I used to be sure you have been going to ask about 2023 negotiations (laughs). But I’ve nothing to say about it.