WGA Writers’ Strike 2017: The numbers behind the demands

You may have heard rumblings in the press about a possible upcoming writers’ strike in Hollywood, and a few readers have been in touch to ask about the debate.  

In today’s article, I will look at some of the key numbers that lie at the heart of the disagreement between the writers and the studios. 

I am going to avoid taking sides in this piece as my aim is to provide useful data for the debate, rather than to argue for one view or another. If I’ve missed anything, or if you want to add your thoughts on the topic, please do so in comments at the bottom of the page. Topics like this can arouse strong feelings on both sides, so I …

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When and how the film business went digital

Last week, I looked at six trends for how the film business is changing.  It got a great response and I was heartened to see such interesting, lively debate about it.  One of the topics raised by a few people was the move from analog to digital processes.  I didn’t include the move to digital as a trend because it’s not one single thing, with each corner of the industry transitioning at a different pace.

So this week I thought I would take you through a quick tour of when and how various aspects of the film industry moved to digital technology.  For some aspects, I have lots of data, while others are a little scant.  If you have knowledge or data on anything …

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Six ways the film business is changing

The coming of a new year always makes me pause and take stock.  It’s a time when people traditionally ponder what they’re up to, where they’re going and what they want to do next.  So I have spent some time thinking about what’s happening in the film business and where we’re going.  I don’t like predictions (see the Epilogue for more about this) but there are a few trends which give us clues about the next few years in film.

Each of these trends really requires several charts and graphs, but just in case you had other plans for today I have limited myself to no more than one for each trend. I have added some links for further reading, for those of …

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How does the average age of actors differ between genres?

Age is a touchy subject for many actors, and last September actors in California have won the right to have their date of birth removed from IMDb. IMDb claims that a date of birth is just a piece of biographical data (therefore fair game for publication) whereas the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) claim that it can be used against an actor – it’s not their true age that should matter but their ‘playing age’.  

In the past I have studied how Hollywood treats cast and crew of different ages.  I started by looking at how much older male romantic comedy actors are compared with their female co-stars (answer: 4.5 years older) and whether male action stars are getting older (answer: yes they …

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How many movies credits go uncredited?

Today’s article was inspired by a question from Pliny, founder of movie titling software Endcrawl.  We got chatting on Twitter and the topic of end credits came up.  

He mentioned that a couple of years ago they had worked on the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz and noticed that a large number of the cast and crew were missing from the end credits. According to IMDb, of the 391 people who worked on the film, only 50 received an on-screen credit.  

I agreed to take a look at the topic and Pliny agreed to write an article for the Endcrawl blog (it’s live and called ‘How to get the on-screen credits you deserve‘).  He also gave me some anonymised data …

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Tips for attending the Toronto International Film Festival

The film industry is good at generating wisdom but not so good at disseminating it.  A case in point is all of the tips and tricks learnt by attendees of a festival or market.  The first time someone attends they spend the first half of their trip totally lost, but after a few days they start to get the hang of it, thanks in part to the things they learn from their fellow attendees.  Everyone new feels like they have got the hang of it exactly at the moment it finishes. We then all return to our four corners of the globe, only for the same cycle to play out the next year.

And so I have taken on the task of collecting some of …

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Studying race in the UK film industry

In the past, I have conducted quite a bit of research into gender inequality in the UK film industry. I often receive questions asking when I’m going to tackle race to the same degree I have researched gender.  

My answer has always been two-fold:  yes, I’d absolutely love to but sadly I don’t have a way to perform the classification. Race is a more complex issue than gender and is hard to measure from the outside.  And because of this, race has gone largely ignored while gender gets ever better analysis and research.

However, I think I have now found a reliable method and am ready to start addressing questions around race in UK film.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that …

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What needs to change in the UK film industry

It appears to me that the UK film industry is currently in a period of increased introspection.  Even before the Brexit vote, I noticed a rise in the number of questions I received from industry professionals, both online and in person, about what’s next for UK film.  Popular topics include equality within the industry, the dramatic fall in micro-budget production and the response of the British Film Institute (BFI) on various issues.

And then in June, the decision by UK voters to leave the EU shocked the film industry. The vast majority of filmmakers didn’t have a working knowledge of how the UK film industry connected with European bodies and institutions, and only learnt the advantages they had been receiving once the decision had been made to discontinue them.  Scaremongering …

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How to become a film director

Last week saw the publication of my report ‘Cut Out Of The Picture‘, which looked at gender inequality in the UK film industry.  In the process of researching and writing the report, we spoke to over 200 film professionals about how someone becomes a film director.  I thought aspiring film directors may benefit from a distillation of what we discovered, so please find below a mix of data and advice.

Our study looked at every film produced in the UK over a ten-year period (2,591 films), and we then conducted detailed interviews with 6% of those directors (121 directors).  The career paths detailed below only relate to people who actually directed a feature film in the UK between 2005 and 2014, inclusive.

There is no one route to …
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How many Assistant Directors work on UK and US movies?

A couple of years ago I looked at the number of Assistant Directors on Hollywood films.  I want to return to the topic as I now have more data, I can add the UK figures into the mix and because I have conducted interviews with over 30 working 1st ADs in the UK and US to get the human perspective.  Today, I’ll be looking at the data and next week I’ll share the views and opinions of 1st ADs.

The Assistant Directors department are the people who make sure the film actually gets shot and that the whole production stays on schedule.  The role is typically split into three classes…

  • First Assistant Director (1st AD) runs the department and is one of the most senior ‘below the …
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