Much less than a day ahead of the Writers Guild of American and the Association of Talent Agents are set to have their initial formal meeting in practically a month, and two weeks ahead of a significant Code of Conduct vote that could see scribes exiting their agencies in droves, UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer has admitted to clientele that “we are not saints.”
As everyone who has ever sat across from an agent knows that final bit is no shocker, but a lot of what Zimmer did have to say Monday would have been if not for the perilous state of scribe affairs.
In a correspondence clearly crafted to get the uber-agencies some PR traction in a war of opinion from which they have been noticeably absent the previous week, the UTA CEO was contrite and compassionate. Following a measured e mail from WME president Ari Greenburg to that agencies’ scribe clientele on March four, Zimmer right now was also clearly entirely convinced that packaging is not the demon seed the WGA has painted the profitable practice out to be in advance of the WGA’s March 25 vote.
“Packaging has been about for a lengthy time,” Zimmer told clientele in an e mail sent out much less than a hour ago, hoping to counter the prevailing WGA narrative of the technique and the stakes of a new franchise agreement. “When we have a lot of talent on a show and the show does not final and realize some back finish, we do not recoup these lost commissions,” he added. “This takes place a lot more often than the occasions we make a lot of funds on a show, as there are lots of a lot more shows that do not make it than there are significant hits. But significant hits make up for a lot of losses.”
“David Goodman’s video will inform you that the per episode packaging charge a lot more than covers our waived commission on the shows we package,” Zimmer says of the WGA West boss’ on-screen work of late to members. “That basically is not correct.”
“The remedy to the complications that our clientele have with their agents is not to do away with the selections they have about packaging or affiliate agencies,” Zimmer declares, taking a distinct swing at the possible WGA outcome if packaging is not tossed by the likes of UTA, WME, CAA and ICM Partners in the subsequent couple of weeks. “It is not to fire their agents and hope that the guild, or a but unidentified agency, is the suitable companion to enable them navigate the globe of media consolidation, streaming, and globalization,” the agency exec notes, stressing that his side “are challenging businessmen and businesswomen who come about to like artists.”
Even though the uber-agencies have been conducting reasonably low essential town halls, face-to-faces and chats with clientele the previous couple of weeks, the storyteller-packed WGA has been unsurprisingly relentless in crafting a sustained message for maximum effect.
In the previous couple of days alone, horror stories of offers gone south or stillborn simply because the agency couldn’t get the package it preferred have been created public in waves. Railing against “these ruthless, self-serving agents,” the WGA right now alone released 5 new position papers on its essential demands for a new franchise agreement with the ATA. On March eight, the guild promised to release a report on March 12 “detailing the Massive 4 talent agencies’ conflicted enterprise practices that harm Hollywood’s writers.”
The query for UTA’s Zimmer and WME, CAA, ICM Partners and all the other agencies representing writers right now is no matter if their personal efforts to reclaim the narrative in this pitched battle is a case of as well small, as well late – or if they can turn this close to runaway train about?
Study JEREMY ZIMMER’S LETTER TO WRITER Clientele Right here:
The previous couple of weeks we have observed two groups who have historically been bonded collectively, writers and their agents, turn out to be locked in a war of words about a decades-old practice of packaging and a minutes-old practice of agents investing in content material.
What is correct is that each sides look out of touch with the feelings of the other the “why now” of this conflict.
I started my profession representing writers. I’ve represented authors, screenwriters, playwrights and showrunners. My mom is a writer and my grandfather was a writer. So I really feel comfy in saying that writers for the most component are intelligent, educated, effectively study and frequently suspicious. The writers I’ve identified have been unlikely to accept years and years of poor efficiency, flaccid negotiation, and dubious ethics. However we are to think that is precisely what writers have been getting.
What I assume is correct is that the major agencies have gotten considerably larger. We have created lots of a lot more capabilities and it is not clear to lots of of our writer clientele how, or if, these capabilities serve them. More than the previous couple of decades the complexity of the enterprise and the possibilities that have been presented have permitted agencies to choose on a path and pursue it. A couple of have selected to diversify broadly and lots of other individuals have selected to remain focused in 1 or two practice places. These who chose to diversify grew swiftly and the chasm among “large” and “small” became a lot more and a lot more pronounced. At the identical time, lots of clientele necessary and demanded a lot more. Writers wanted to direct and make, actors wanted to direct, directors wanted to make and have access to outdoors financing, Television actors wanted to do film, and on and on. In order to retain and attract clientele the bigger agencies had to continue to diversify. We got larger simply because the capabilities have been eye-catching to artists seeking for diversified careers, clout, and technique.
But we all nonetheless continued to sign and represent writers. That component of the agency was and is 1 of the most, if not the most, desirable departments to perform in. Each and every year, the mailroom is complete of young ladies and guys who aspire to represent writers. When a desk opens up in Motion Image or Television Lit, the competitors is fierce. I say this to assistance the truth that the agents I observe each day are representing their writers with passion and commitment. Each day. When staffing season begins they have this intense appear in their eye that does not go away till they’ve exhausted each move they have to employees our clientele. Yes we are larger, but inside the walls this is nonetheless a private service corporation – agents on phones speaking to clientele about their perform, their suggestions, the producer who does not get it, the studio who does not care, or the director who does not comprehend the material they’re meant to be directing.
Packaging has been about for a lengthy time. Agencies have created a lot of funds when shows are prosperous, and in some circumstances they have lost funds when shows haven’t worked. How do we shed funds? We shed funds simply because we waive commission on each actor, writer, director, and in truth everyone we represent, who is operating in the show. In some circumstances that cumulative commission is drastically a lot more than the packaging charge that is collected on a per episode basis. When we have a lot of talent on a show and the show does not final and realize some back finish, we do not recoup these lost commissions. This takes place a lot more often than the occasions we make a lot of funds on a show, as there are lots of a lot more shows that do not make it than there are significant hits. But significant hits make up for a lot of losses. David Goodman’s video will inform you that the per episode packaging charge a lot more than covers our waived commission on the shows we package. That basically is not correct.
1 issue that is specific is that there is as well considerably unknown or misunderstood about agency practices. This conflict is going to shed light on our practices – the added benefits of packaging versus the drawbacks. This conflict will also demand that the agencies go over in detail the why, and the why now, of affiliated corporations: What are the added benefits? Have there been abuses of duty? How considerably do agencies personal? Is a smaller sized ownership a important differentiator, or is a conflict a conflict regardless of the ownership?
Guild leadership desires to take a easy black and white, very good or negative, method to all of this. They deem agencies as negative, and refuse to permit writers, directors, actors, producers, editors, and cinematographers a selection. No selection! That does not look the very best way to make a terrific choice.
They accuse the ATA of refusing to negotiate. However when we speak to them, they communicate basically that there will be no negotiation or even discussion of their proposals with regards to packaging or affiliate corporations. Who is refusing to negotiate? An agent not wanting to negotiate is like fish not wanting to swim… it is basically unnatural.
But we owe you a lot more. We owe you information about packaging to show you that their claims are false and our enterprise does advantage clientele.
We also owe it to our writers to enable deal with the adjustments in our globe. Our agents who perform in Television are busier than ever. The brief orders, year round improvement cycle, and a number of purchasers demand a lot more coverage, a lot more negotiations and year round staffing. We are not complaining, but that does clarify why agents look busier than ever.
We will need to clarify our affiliate corporations. Who runs them, how choices are created, how will writers advantage from operating with them and what are the possible conflicts that we will need to be conscious of and mitigate against.
We will need to commit a lot more time speaking and much less time emailing. We will need to enable the WGA track residuals and amplify their efforts to gather. We will need to have arbitration solutions for writers to enable them comprehend and monitor the arbitration method.
We will need to meet with the WGA effectively ahead of their collective bargaining session to enable them strategize and analysis the problems that are of concern to writers.
We will need to clearly and openly go over each and every project that may well, or may well not, be a package and permit an open choice.
The silver lining of this contentious time is that we will all spend interest to how and why we do what we do. It is effortless to rely on decades old habits and an effortless rapport and neglect that we all will need to comprehend the precise circumstance of each and every deal and what the client is paying and acquiring for our solutions.
We are not saints. We are challenging businessmen and businesswomen who come about to like artists. We are so fortunate to perform in an sector that permits us to be warriors for suggestions and artists. There is correct nobility in fighting for the persons we represent and often that gets lost.
The remedy to the complications that our clientele have with their agents is not to do away with the selections they have about packaging or affiliate agencies. It is not to fire their agents and hope that the guild, or a but unidentified agency, is the suitable companion to enable them navigate the globe of media consolidation, streaming, and globalization.
This fight reminds us all of our mission and our objectives: to basically fight for artists and enable them do what they like. We are fortunate to have our clients’ trust and to wake up each day and fight the very good fight. However if we have lost some clients’ trust then we will need to know why. We do not want our clientele to remain with us out of habit. We want our clientele to be component of UTA simply because they think that we are carrying out a very good job of assisting them handle their profession, in very good occasions and negative, as the media enterprise and the globe get crazier.
Please take benefit of this time of contemplation to get collectively with your agents and go over packaging and how it impacts you.
Speak to your writer, actor and director pals, the ones who mirror your ambitions and have components of the profession you want. Ask them how packaging has impacted them either positively or adversely.
Please attain out to us straight with your queries or thoughts at [email protected]
We think that you will need to have the capability to pick and that the selection demands to be effectively informed. Thanks for taking the time to study this and think about what we are saying.
Chief Executive Officer