Cheers were audible all over Los Angeles this week, when the 148-day-long writers’ strike finally ended. Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are walking away from their lengthy negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) with meaningful protections, thanks in no small part to the work of the WGA negotiating committee.
Kay Cannon, a writer, actor, producer, and director best known for writing and producing the Pitch Perfect films, served as a member of the negotiating committee, and on Thursday, Vogue caught up with her about how life has changed since a deal was reached, the specific deal win that she’s most excited about, and the importance of showing solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA members who are still on strike.
Vogue: What was your day-to-day looking like prior to the end of the strike, and what does it look like now?
Kay Cannon: Well, you know, in those final days of negotiations, it was very stressful. They were long days. And we were all incredibly optimistic that we were going to get a deal, but…I feel all the emotions right now, because I feel happy and relieved and have so much love for the Guild and our solidarity and how strongly we’re together. And then I’m also angry that it took this long, and that so many people were hurt by this. There’s a whole mix of emotions: I feel like we won, but also, in this fight, we got punched pretty bad, and so we as a guild are still going to be there for each other and help each other recover from this.
Is there a win that you’re particularly excited about?
I’ve been doing film and TV for the last 15 years, and I was primarily focused on the screenwriting proposals—there were seven of us who had that as our primary focus. One of the gains that we got as screenwriters was the two-step deal, and that is something we’ve asked for many, many times and that I personally spoke on behalf of to the AMPTP in one of our presentations. I was able to say: “This is an abuse of power, and the amount of free work that that happens when you don’t guarantee a writer a second step [ensuring payment not only for turning in a draft, but also for a rewrite] is terrible. I didn’t make the sign, but I had a sign that I carried every single day about two-step deals. It was also that thing of, like, We’re never gonna get it. Early on in negotiations, someone from across the table said, “My bosses will never say yes to that,” and then we got it. It’s really geared towards protecting new screenwriters, because it allows them to have more skin in the game; it allows screenwriters to be able to get another round of notes to course-correct and create relationships with executives, and another chance at getting credited for their work, which of course means everything if a movie gets made and then you get residuals. It’s a process shift, and that’s what was so frustrating; it wasn’t a monetary proposal, and it didn’t cost them more money. It was a process-control proposal, and it’s just giving a little bit of power and control back to the screenwriter, which is pretty great.