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What is the Writers Guild of America, East?
The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO, is a labor union representing writers in motion pictures, television, digital media, and broadcast news. The WGAE conducts programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of, writers. In addition, it represents writers’ interests on the legislative level. For a detailed description of our history and what we do please visit our About the Guild section.
How do I become a member of the Writers Guild of America, East?
We’re glad you asked. Please visit Become a Member.
How do I join the Guild if:
… I’m creating a pilot.
Congratulations! That you’ve gotten this far is quite a testament to your talent and your perseverance. If your pilot is for network television, it should already be covered by the Guild. If you’re not sure, please contact our membership department at 212-767-7821.
Many production companies that create shows for cable television are also signatory to Guild contracts so you may be covered. If not, getting coverage may be as simple as a phone call from the WGAE Signatory Department to the producer.
A full list of Signatories can be found in the Guild’s Signatories Directory.
… I’m selling a script.
When a writer sells a screenplay, television script, web series script, or any other WGAE-covered literary material to a signatory company, then the project is automatically covered by the Guild and the writer can become a Guild member. WGAE membership is automatically part of that process. In either case, the script should be registered with our script registration service in order to be protected.
Script registration fees are:
- $10 for WGAE member
- $17 for students with ID
- $25 for nonmembers
… I’m on the staff of a successful network television show.
It is likely that you’re already a member. For membership information, call 212-767-7821.
… I’m on staff of an episodic cable show.
Many, though not all, of the production companies making episodic cable shows are Guild signatories. Check our Signatories database to find out. If they are a signatory, please contact the Membership Department at 212-767-7821 to start the process of becoming a member. If your company is not listed, please call the WGAE Organizing Department at (212) 767-7808 for discreet advice.
… I own my own production company.
You aren’t the first prospective Guild member to be a writer who owns his or her own production company. Production companies owned by writers must meet several requirements for their companies to become signatory to a Guild agreement. However, we are usually able to figure out a way for a writer-owned production company to become signatory to a Guild Agreement and for writers employed there– including yourself—to join the Guild.
Digital Media companies interested in becoming signatories should contact Ursula Lawrence at 212-767-7836. All other production companies should contact Rochelle Rubin at 212-767-7837.
… I work in news and don’t know if I’m covered by the Writers Guild.
Television news magazines, like 60 Minutes or 20/20, are covered under the Writers Guild Minimum Basic Agreement. Local and national TV and radio news are covered by company-specific Writers Guild contracts such as ABC, CBS and Fox 5. Please call the WGAE Membership Department at (212) 767-7821 to confirm your membership eligibility.
Am I eligible for Guild membership?
When you begin work for a Guild signatory company, the company should inform you of your need to become a Guild member, if you are not one already. When you are hired, the company should provide the WGAE Membership Department with a Notice of Hire. The WGAE then sends you a membership application.
As a first step, you can check the Signatories Database to see if your employer is listed. If the company is a signatory, but you have not been informed that you are working under the Guild contract, call the Guild’s Signatories Department at 212-767-7837. If you are working for a signatory company that is claiming that your job description is not covered by the Guild contract, contact the Organizing Department at (212) 767-7808.
Do you offer an Associate membership?
As a member, who can I talk to about my Health Insurance and my Pension Plan?
If you have questions regarding your pension or health benefits, please contact the Pension Plan/Health Fund at 1-800-227-7863 or visit their website at www.wgaplans.org.
What’s my username and password to the members only section of the website?
Call the Membership Department at 212-767-7821 to find out.
How do I inform the Guild of a change in my contact information?
Click here to update your contact information or call the Membership Department at 212-767-7821.
How can I ensure that I’m getting email correspondence from the Guild?
Contact our Membership Department at 212-767-7821, or e-mail to verify we have your current e-mail address.
Does the WGAE offer screenwriting instruction or advice?
The FAQ section of the Writers Guild Foundation website provides information about script formatting, treatments, pitching, script libraries, copyright, screenwriting contests, writing classes, and other useful resources.
How do I find and contact a writer’s representative?
You can find representation and contact information for Writers Guild members using our Find a Writer search function or call our Membership Department at 212-767-7821.
Can you help me obtain an agent?
While the WGAE does not help writers find agents, the Guild does provide an online Agency List. Each agency has its own submission policy. The WGAE recommends that writers send a query letter, rather than submitting an unsolicited script. This concise letter should briefly describe the nature of the work and outline relevant credentials.
Can the WGAE help me find work as a writer or submit my work to a production company?
The Guild does not obtain employment for writers, nor can we accept or handle material for submission to production companies.
Can the Guild recommend a writer for my script idea?
The Guild does not refer or recommend writers for assignments, however you can find contact information for many of our members by using our Find a Writer search page.
What does a sample script cover page look like?
A sample cover page, which is included in the booklet, “What Every Writer Needs to Know,” can be found here.
How are writing credits determined?
To help you understand how the system works, we have created a Credits Survival Guide that explains the process established in both manuals and how to navigate it.
How can I make sure I receive proper credit for my work?
When principal photography on a project has been completed, the company must send a Notice of Tentative Writing Credits to the Guild and to each participating writer. Writers who contributed to the project should review this Notice to make sure their name is included. Residuals and other ancillary rights are based on credit, so it is imperative that writers are officially recognized on the Notice. Credit disputes may result in arbitration, which the Guild will handle on behalf of the writer.
Further information can be found in Credits Administration and Arbitration. Additional information can be found in the Credits Survival Guide. For more information on the credits process, please refer to the Screen Credits Manual or Television Credits Manual.
If I believe I should be a participating writer on a project and have not received a Notice of Tentative Writing Credits, what should I do?
Writers who have not received a Notice and know that principal photography has been completed, should contact the Guild’s Credits Department immediately at 212-767-7804. The Credits Administrator will investigate the status of the project and determine whether you are entitled to be considered a participating writer.
What should I do if I see an incorrect writing credit on-screen or in advertising?
Contact the Guild’s Credits Department immediately at 212-767-7804 so that the staff can investigate whether there has been a credit violation.
What should I do if I have a possible grievance and/or claim against a Guild signatory company?
If you have a problem or question concerning bonuses, initial compensation, late payments, merchandising, publishing or separated rights, program fees, theatrical reacquisition, video games based on covered movies or TV shows, or other terms and conditions of your employment or sale of literary material to a signatory company, please contact the Guild’s Senior Counsel at 212-767-7844.
For questions or concerns about credits or residuals, contact the Credits Department at 212-767-7804 or the Residuals Department at 212-767-7814.
Does the Guild need a copy of my contract?
Contract enforcement is one of the most valuable services the Writers Guild provides to its members. In order to do that the Guild needs a copy of your contracts as is required by the Minimum Basic Agreement. If we do not have your contract on file, it may delay our enforcement efforts on your behalf. If the Guild does not have a copy of your contract, please send it to our Signatories Department at .
Can the Guild refer me to an entertainment attorney?
The Guild does not provide lawyer referrals. For a listing of entertainment attorneys, visit Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts at http://www.vlany.org.
How can I reach a member for a press interview?
If you are a member of the media and would like to contact a Writers Guild member, contact Director of Communications Jason Gordon at 212-767-7809 or .
Where can I find press releases from the WGAE?
For press releases from the WGAE, go to our Press Room.
Does the WGAE sponsor special events? Who should I contact about getting the Guild to co-sponsor my event?
The Guild considers sponsoring special events on a case-by-case basis. For inquiries, contact the Director of Programs Dana Weissman at 212-767-7835 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a member of the WGAE and am unable to sign in to my account. What should I do?
Contact the membership department at 212-767-7821.
How do I sign out of my MYWGAE account?
Contact the membership department at 212-767-7821.
Who do I contact with questions about registering a script?
For information and questions about script registration, go to our Registration page or call 212-767-7801.
Do I have to be a member of the Guild to register my material with the WGAE?
No. You can register material with the WGAE regardless of membership status.
The cost of registration is:
- $10 for WGAE member
- $17 for students with ID
- $25 for nonmembers
Does registering with the Guild make me a member?
Registering your script does not make you a Guild member. For more information on registering your literary material so it is Guild-protected, please visit our Script Registration page.
Do I have to live in the eastern U.S. to register my material with the WGAE?
No. You can register material with the WGAE regardless of where you live or work.
What are residuals?
Residuals are compensation paid for the reuse of a credited writer’s work such as syndicated television shows. Detailed answers to this and other general residuals questions can be found in the “Residuals Survival Guide.”
Am I paid residuals on all my work?
Residuals are only paid on WGA-covered projects. This means that in order to be eligible to collect residuals, the company that hires you must be a signatory to the WGA Agreement. To find out if a company is a signatory, contact the Guild’s Signatories department at 212-767-7837.
How often are residual payments made?
Typically, residuals for theatrical projects are due to the Guild on a quarterly basis. Television projects are due within 30 days of usage (if used on network television) or within four months (most other usage). The Guild’s Rapid Residuals system sends out checks to members as soon as they are received. Please see the “Residuals Survival Guide” for more details.
If my residuals are overdue, what should I do?
Contact our Residuals Administrator at 212-767-7814. We will investigate any usage you report that may be overdue, as well as all exhibition markets for your project. If you wrote an episode of a series, we will check the entire series for unpaid residuals. Potential claims are researched on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the initial investigation is completed, your claim will be assigned to a collections coordinator who will pursue any unpaid residuals and, if warranted, any late fees you are owed.
I saw a clip of a script I wrote used on another television show or in a movie. What should I do?
Contact our Residuals Administrator at 212-767-7814.
When I complete my quarterly Dues Declaration, should I list residuals checks I’ve received that don’t appear on MyWGAE account?
You should only list residual checks that appear in your account. When you receive a residual check, it will appear on your MyWGAE account, though not necessarily in the same quarter in which you received the check.
I received a check, but it doesn’t appear on MyWGAE account. How do I know what it is for?
The large volume of checks we receive daily, especially at the end of the quarter, may result in a substantial delay between the time you receive your check and the time it appears on your MyWGAE account statement. This is because the Residuals Department confirms each residual to ensure every writer receives the correct amount at the correct time. Once your check is listed, you can click on the check number for detailed information regarding the payment, including market usage.
If you are underpaid, the Guild will pursue the balance due to you; if payment is late, we will pursue late fees. This is one of the many ways the Guild works to protect members’ rights. We appreciate your patience.
If MyWGAE Account lists a check that I never received or if I lose my residuals check or if, for some reason, it cannot be cashed, what should I do?
Contact our Residuals Administrator at 212-767-7814.
How long does it take to have my check reissued?
Your residuals check is reissued by the company that issued the original check. Every company has its own procedure for reissuing checks but, typically, it takes at least six weeks once the Guild makes the request.
When my check is reissued, will I be assessed dues on both the original check and the reissued check?
No. The Guild will retain records of the original check only. If you access your residual records online and bring up the original check, it will include information regarding the new, reissued check.
I received a check for “Foreign Levies.” What is this for?
Foreign Copyright Levies are funds received by the Guild on behalf of U.S. writers. Foreign collection societies send the WGAE taxes and levies imposed by foreign governments in order to protect copyright holders of audiovisual product made available on public television, cable television, and through DVD rentals. The primary source of these monies is “private copy” taxes on the sale of blank videocassettes and VCRs, although taxes are also imposed for cable retransmission of programs.
I have questions about my Foreign Levy payment. Who should I contact?
Call our Residuals Residuals Administrator at 212-767-7814.
I have questions about my IRS W-2 form or 1099 form. Who should I call?
Contact the company that issued your payment. The Guild does not issue tax forms to its members.
How do I designate a beneficiary to receive my residuals in the event of my death?
Please contact our Residuals Administrator at 212-767-7814.
Why did I receive a check marked “void?”
A payroll company might void a check for many reasons, including if you have a tax lien or garnished wages. The check itself is your property and might contain important information for your records. The Guild will still process the gross amount of the check in order to track the fact that the Company met its residuals obligation. For check details, contact the payroll company that issued it.
I recently moved. How do I make sure my residuals are sent to the correct address?
Email the Membership Department at .
I have questions about my Pension Plan and/or Health Fund contributions. Who should I talk to?
What is a WGAE signatory?
A signatory company is one that has signed a collective bargaining agreement with the WGAE and agrees to abide by its provisions. For a list of signatories, visit our Signatories Directory or call the Guild’s Signatories Department at 212-767-7837.
Is there a fee for a company to become a signatory to the Basic Agreement?
There is no fee to become a signatory. However, as a signatory, the company is bound to the terms of the Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA), including minimum compensation for the writer, pension and health contributions if there are writing services involved, and residuals if the project is produced.
Can a signatory company employ a non-Guild writer?
Yes, because being hired by a signatory is how non-Guild writers become Guild members. For further information, please contact the Membership Department at 212-767-7821.
How do I get a contract for writing services with a WGA signatory?
Retain an agent to represent you and to shop your material around to companies.
How long does the signatory process take?
If the documentation submitted to the Guild is complete, the signatory paperwork can be processed within a few days to a few weeks.
Can an individual person become a signatory?
Yes, but make sure you understand the legal and financial ramifications of signing this way. Please contact the Signatories Department for more info at 212-767-7837.
Can a foreign company become a signatory to the Minimum Basic Agreement?
Yes. The Guild will sign a company whose principal ownership is outside the U.S., however, the company must provide financial assurance from an individual and a U.S.-based Agent for Service of Process.
Will the Guild sign a member-owned company to the Minimum Basic Agreement?
Yes. Please contact the Signatories Department for more info at 212-767-7837.
Can a company sign the Minimum Basic Agreement on a project basis?
No. When a company becomes a signatory, it is bound by the Minimum Basic Agreement for the duration of the contract.
Does the Guild contract require that low budget films pay screenwriters as much as high budget films?
Productions operating on any budget can be covered by the Guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement. However, the contract has some flexibility for low budget films. Films with a projected budget of less than $1.2 million generally qualify for the Low Budget Agreement—an appendix to the Guild’s standard contract. The Low Budget Agreement is designed to meet the demands of the low budget film business while ensuring the rights and benefits writers are due. Visit our Low Budget Agreement page for more information.
What are the rates for screenwriting?
Screenwriting fees can be found in the WGAE Rate Book.
What is the Film Society and how can I join?
WGAE members may join the New York SAG/WGAE Film Society, which entitles them to attend major studio, foreign, and independent film screenings during the season that extends from September through the following August. Screenings are held at the Directors Guild of America Theatre at 110 West 57th Street in Manhattan. The subscription fee admits the member and a guest to 24 regularly scheduled screenings. Subscriptions are limited and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Members who would like to join the Film Society should contact Venesa Gomez at for information on how to join.
How can I join the Film Society committee?
Members interested in applying to join the Film Society committee should contact Venesa Gomez at (212) 767-7811 for further information. Committee members work 16 screenings a season and attend three to four committee meetings annually. Committee members receive a complimentary subscription, which allows them and a guest entry to all screenings.