Will Work for Screen Credit: Labour and the Law in Hollywood
Chapter 9 IN:Hollywood and the Law, Paul McDonald, Emily Carman, Eric Hoyt, and Philip Drake, eds., London, BFI/Palgrave, 2015
42 Pages Posted: 5 May 2016
Date Written: May 4, 2016
This chapter on the law and employment practices at both the high end and the low end of the Hollywood labour market briefly describes three regimes of law – employment contracts, statutory wage and hour regulation, and collective bargaining agreements – that determine the conditions of labour in Hollywood and then offers two case studies about labour in Hollywood, one at the high end and the other at the low end of the pay and prestige scales. The first case study focuses on the origins of Writers Guild of America control over screen credits for writing and, in particular, the origins of the residuals system for credited writers in the 1940s and early 1950s. In addition to explaining the role of the WGA in developing the complex system for crediting and compensating writers, the case study considers the way in which debates over fair compensation and creative control in the classic Hollywood era echo among TV writers today. The second case study is about the use of unpaid interns on the films Black Swan (2010) and (500) Days of Summer (2009). Analysing the litigation over the use of unpaid internships in film and television production, this case study looks at the larger question about why people have been willing to work for free in order to break into the movie and television business and assesses the strength of the legal regime that attempts to distinguish when free labour is exploitative and when it is an opportunity.
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