Series Writers: Get Paid Correctly Under the New MBA Provision

On a Series with 14 or Fewer Episodes?
You May Be Owed Money Later This Season
We Need Your Contract
(We need your contract in any event. See below!)

In the 2017 MBA negotiation, the Guild began to address the problem of writers working too many weeks on short-season series and having their overscale episodic fees amortized down to minimum as a result. We negotiated additional compensation for the extra weeks for the most-affected writers. The provision took effect on May 1, and we need your contract now to ensure that companies are in compliance.

You are covered by this new provision if you meet all five of these criteria:

  1. Your series has a full season order (including any pilot) of 14 or fewer episodes (12 or fewer on broadcast).  
  2. You are a producer level writer or higher.
  3. You are guaranteed less than $350,000 for your staff work (script fees do not count).
  4. You entered into your contract on or after May 2, 2018. (Options picked up on contracts dated before May 2, 2018 do not qualify. These provisions will apply when you sign a new contract.)
  5. Your contract is written with episodic fees, not a weekly rate.

If you meet all of these criteria, your episodic fees pay for a maximum of 2.4 weeks per episode. So, for example, a guarantee of 10 episodic fees pays for 24 weeks of work. After the weeks covered by your episodic fees run out, the employer must pay you for each additional week (or part of a week) you work. The rate they must pay is an overscale weekly rate, defined as your episodic fee divided by 2.4.

Even if you don’t meet these new criteria—higher-paid writers will not—you and your lawyer should keep in mind that this is a new standard that many writers earning less than you are now benefiting from, and that you should insist on a similar provision in your deal.

The Guild will enforce this provision, but you must send us your contract. Or have your agent submit it. Staff will evaluate your deal to determine if you are eligible for these MBA protections and, if so, make sure you get paid.

CLICK HERE to email your contract to WGAE Signatories, Contracts, Agency Administrator Rochelle Rubin. Even if you don’t qualify, we still need your contract. There are other provisions we need to enforce. Please submit it in any case.

Please contact WGAE Business Agent, Geoff Betts (212-767-7852; gbetts@wgaeast.org) with any questions.