Asked for your “take” on existing IP? Make sure to get paid!

Alexandra Drosu / November 16, 2020

Union News / no comments

If you are an Animation Writer (who is not a weekly employee) and you are being asked to pitch for an Intellectual Property owned by a studio, it’s time you get paid for your work. Employers are required to pay for all time worked excluding meetings considered to be de minimis (short meetings where no work is performed).

What does that mean exactly?

Increasingly writers are being asked for their “take” on existing intellectual property. This is often framed as a casual conversation with increasing demands as the stakes get higher. For example, you might be asked to read a book and offer your thoughts or watch a few old episodes of a TV show and give a fresh perspective. Remember, work is work. If you are not a weekly employee, you are still being asked to use your skill and expertise for the benefit of an existing IP and should be compensated accordingly. This concept is very similar to visual development work by artists and the expectation is always to be paid for that work. We are simply enforcing rules that have already existed.

If I’m not a weekly employee, how should I be compensated?

If you are not a weekly employee, and you are directed to be present at a meeting set by a union studio (like attending a“pitch session” or “pitch meetings”) this work-time must be compensated using the “daily employment” provisions of the Union agreement. The daily employment provision provides a 117.719% premium over the applicable wage minimum – 10% extra for no 40-hour guarantee, 4% for Vacation Pay, and 3.719% for Holiday Pay. The current wage minimum under daily employment for a Journey level Animation Writer (21-022) is $51.60/hr * 117.719% = $60.74/hour. Minimum call for daily employment work is four (4) hours (Art. 5B of the TAG Master Agreement). Our wage minimums increase each year close to the beginning of August by an amount determined in bargaining.

What if I’m a weekly employee and being asked to give my thoughts on a different show?

If you are a weekly employee, the studio you work for can determine how your time is spent. That being said, if you are being asked to offer your input and it requires you to work outside your normally scheduled hours, you are entitled to overtime pay.

As a writer, what can I do to make sure we are all on the same page?

  1. Share the letter that Business Representative Steve Kaplan sent to you with your professional representation—agent or manager—so that all writers can be aware of the policy.
  2. Fill out a timecard anytime you are being asked to attend a meeting, offer your thoughts or participate in a pitch session. If you don’t have a timesheet, please reach out to Steve Kaplan at steve.kaplan@tag839.org for a template.

What can other TAG members do to support the writers?

If you are a storyboard artist, hold the line with the writers. If you are being asked to pitch your take on an existing IP, follow the same protocol and get paid for your work.

 

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