When Will the Strike End? WGA Chicago Captain Brett Neveu Speaks with SCREEN

The WGA strike rages on, and now with SAG-AFTRA alongside, is there an end in sight for these contract negotiations? Has there been progress? What lies ahead? One of the artists at the forefront of the WGA efforts is Chicago Strike Captain Brett Neveu.

Brett Neveu is an acclaimed screenwriter whose latest piece, Eric LaRue, was directed by his longtime friend and collaborator Michael Shannon. The dramatic feature marked Shannon’s directorial debut – on the heels of two Academy Award Nominations and numerous theatre awards as a Chicago actor – and Eric LaRue recently made its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Brett spoke with SCREEN to give our readers an update on where the strike stands heading into August, and what you can do to help…

SCREEN: Thank you stopping by, Brett. As we begin the fourth month of the strike, are we moving closer to a resolution? How do you feel negotiations are progressing?

BRETT: It appears there’s been no movement toward resolution in regard to the AMPTP. We’re ready to come back to the table at any time but they appear unwilling to even show up. As we heard, they are hoping we begin losing our houses so we become desperate. That’s some really terrible corporate tactic stuff, so we’ll continue to march until they’re willing to negotiate in good faith. And no, negotiations are stalled out due to the AMPTP being unwilling to come to the table. It’s frustrating but we’ve got the strength and voice to continue to march for what’s right.

WGA Screenwriter and Strike Captain Brett Neveu with Actor-Director Michael Shannon. The two collaborated on Neveu’s screenplay Eric LaRue, which premiered this Summer at Tribeca

SCREEN: What do you feel is the main issue causing the impasse in negotiations?

BRETT: Our entire platform is the issue. They are unwilling to negotiate on any of it. The biggest thing might be AI but I believe it’s more of a “who controls the story” issue and them being unwilling to share any more than they already do. It’s always about money so whatever they have, the AMPTP doesn’t want to let go of any future money they envision, they also want to make sure they control.

SCREEN: How has SAG-AFTRA also going on strike impacted the WGA efforts?

BRETT: Our sibling union will affect this movement in a huge way, and already has. They have a larger membership and have known names and faces, so the public notices them more as they walk the picket lines. Plus, there is absolutely no promotion of scripted content, so that pulls back efforts to sell new and existing shows and films. This is turning into a bigger labor movement and having any and all labor unions joining together to march is a big deal! It’s fully welcome and helps all unions.

SCREEN: What can someone do to help the WGA, even if they are not in the industry?

The best things pre-WGA or non-WGA folks can do is to join us for Strike Events as they pop up and/or donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, an organization that helps industry members who are having financial difficulties.

SCREEN: Toughest question: when do you see the strike ending?

BRETT: That’s a question I get asked very often and one that I wish I could answer. It’s not up to us, obviously, but up to the AMPTP and their willingness to come back to the table. We’d love this strike to be over as soon as possible so we can all get back to doing the work we love and coming back together as a community of working artists. I’m tired and frustrated but also hopeful! I love my union, my fellow WGA Captains, my incredible friends in SAG-AFTRA and IATSE and will march with all our labor folks until this thing is done.

Feeling like this strike is only the beginning of a sea change in how the entertainment industry works, how we’re paid and what we make. Speaking truth to power with this strike has already made a difference and how this all shakes out feels to me like the dawn of something special.

Check back here at SCREEN for the latest news as WGA and SAG-AFTRA forge ahead. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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