Hollywood writers fight for quality over quantity

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The Future. The Writers’ Guild of America is trying to combat the existential threat of automation with its ongoing strike. But profit has long motivated Hollywood studios to formularize creation wherever they can — and AI has put them in a better position to do it than ever. If writers want to survive, they’ll have to convince studios that profits follow the best writing rather than the most.

Save the cat, kill the writer
Fast Company covered Hollywood’s extensive history of prioritizing expedience at workers’ expense.

  • For decades, the richest studios and franchises (like Marvel) have used sub-par outsourced VFX instead of hiring talent full-time.
  • The rise of franchise content allowed studios to create predictable stories quickly, hiring writers as gig workers who didn’t own what they wrote.
  • During the streaming boom, pressures to maximize stock prices drove studios to create content at a rate they knew was unsustainable, dropping shows and firing writers when costs inevitably caught up with them.

Motive most foul
Studios’ fixation with profits won’t change. What might change is how audiences respond to content now that it’s ubiquitous and easily made. When there’s an infinite amount of bad or boring content and only a little great content, the great content could win subscriptions — and you need writers for that.


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