Thursday, November 22, 2007

Battlestar Galactica and the Writers Strike

I've blogged before about "Razor," the two-hour season premiere of Season 4 (the last season) of Battlestar Galactica, and about the "Razor Flashbacks," the web-only episodes that are a prologue to "Razor." Well, the time is almost upon us. The last of the "Razor Flashbacks" is now online and the season premiere is just days away. The action starts Saturday at 9 p.m. (EST)

I've been pulling for the writers in their strike; the studios' position that they can't pay writers for using their material on the Internet because there's no money to be made there is just ludicrous. But I've also been wondering how the strike is going to affect Battlestar Galactica. IGN has an interview with BSG showrunner Ron Moore, who discusses why he's striking and how it's going to affect the final season. Turns out, not first. They were planning on splitting up the 20-episode season into two 10-episode parts anyway like they did last season, and the first 10 episodes are already in the can. The other 10 might take more time than originally planned.

As for why he and the other writers are striking, consider this...
For Moore, "Fundamentally this is about the internet, and this is about whether writers get paid for material that is made for the internet or if they're paid for material that is broadcast on the internet that was developed for TV or movies." Moore shared a story to illustrate the scenario, saying "I had a situation last year on Battlestar Galactica where we were asked by Universal to do webisodes [Note: Moore is referring to The Resistance webisodes which ran before Season 3 premiered], which at that point were very new and 'Oooh, webisodes! What does that mean?' It was all very new stuff. And it was very eye opening, because the studio's position was 'Oh, we're not going to pay anybody to do this. You have to do this, because you work on the show. And we're not going to pay you to write it. We're not going to pay the director, and we're not going to pay the actors.' At which point we said 'No thanks, we won't do it.'"

"We got in this long, protracted thing and eventually they agreed to pay everybody involved. But then, as we got deeper into it, they said 'But we're not going to put any credits on it. You're not going to be credited for this work. And we can use it later, in any fashion that we want.' At which point I said 'Well, then we're done and I'm not going to deliver the webisodes to you.' And they came and they took them out of the editing room anyway -- which they have every right to do. They own the material -- But it was that experience that really showed me that that's what this is all about. If there's not an agreement with the studios about the internet, that specifically says 'This is covered material, you have to pay us a formula - whatever that formula turns out to be - for use of the material and how it's all done,' the studios will simply rape and pillage."
(NOTE: If you follow the link to watch the "Razor Flashbacks," Part Seven will load and begin playing. If you wish to start watching from the beginning, stop the video that is playing before clicking on Part One (or any other part) or you will get a muddled mess -- the sound from both videos playing at once.)

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