In 2019, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) — a labor union consisting of over 20,000 writers for television shows, movies, documentaries, and more — encouraged their writers to drop their agent representation if their agents did not agree to sign the WGA’sCode of Conduct.
WGA’s code of conduct protected the guild’s writers around the industry’s unfair practices, especially regarding “packaging”fees and deals driven by agency affiliations with production companies. Throughout the years, agencies became more concerned about receiving their fees than representing their writers to their best interests.
Until then, writers were required to work with agents to find and apply for job opportunities. Writers rarely knew about what jobs were available or who was hiring at the time. Agents held the keys to securing work in the industry.
With the WGA’s call to drop unfair representation, thousands of writers were about to be agent less, which meant they would be left with no easily accessible means to find work for themselves.Even those with strong connections would be limited because it was not common practice for writers to connect directly to producers. The WGA knew they would have to find a way to help writers connect with studio contacts.
Turning the Entertainment Industry on Its Head
WGA’s initial push for writers to release themselves from unfair agents and agencies needed to be backed by an effort to bridge the gap between writers and producers. The WGA decided to build a platform that would allow writers to connect with hiring managers directly.
But WGA’s small IT team did not have the resources or capacity to create such a platform, especially when they were going against the clock. Every second that went by might be another second that their writers were not finding work.
It was clear that they needed to outsource the creation of their platform to a specialist. They reached out to Thinklogic because of their impressive resume as a custom web development agency.
This solution had to be two-sided. On the one hand, writers needed the ability to search for available jobs and submit their information to the hiring managers of their choice. On the other, executives and hiring managers needed to efficiently access, process, and manage these submissions and the writer’s information.
How the WGA Chose the Right Solutions Provider
The WGA chose Thinklogic to build the solution that met the needs of the guild. Through extensive discussions, Thinklogic’s project management team created mock-ups based on their conversations, intending to strike a balance between the writer-facing side and the solution’s executive-facing side.
Thinklogic’s approach was to make this an iterative project. They started with a simple version of this two-sided tool that only enabled one type of project. From there, they tested it, retested it, and then proceeded to build out iterations.
The rest of the site was built out one module at a time, until there were more than a dozen different tools, or modules, within the WGA platform.
Thoughtful Execution Led to Timely, Powerful Results
Thankfully, the foresight of the WGA gave everybody involved enough time to build the solution and deploy it on the very day their writers were encouraged to drop their agent representation. Thinklogic’s attentiveness and agility as a team contributed to the quick success of the project.
This success was not without its challenges — the Thinklogic team was faced with complex permission requirements, unknowns in regard to the growth and future of the platform, and an evolving scope to keep up with the needs of the guild members.
Now, for the first time in the history of Hollywood, writers are empowered with full control over the decisions they make in their careers.
Both writers and managers now have access to tools designed for their needs. Writers can choose the projects they want to work on without worrying about their agents, and managers can post open writing assignments as singular job postings.
Some of the other capabilities added by the Thinklogic team include:
- The ability to review, categorize, and manage writer’s submissions, choosing to message a writer through a Google Chat-style interface when they think it is a good fit.
- Access to the Staffing Submission System, a robust tool created for television series staffing, and has received over 12,000submissions from writers to over 200 different series.
- Managers can use the Literary Management List tool to post requests for clients or what types of writers they wish to hire.
- The ability to manage their company profile and their executives and access “Grids” – a tool for building project-specific lists of favorite writers that they can easily export or share with their team.
- Writers have access to “Memo” tools allowing them to pitch a television series, feature, or even request representation.
- Writers can craft their online presence with a suite of profile customization tools, and control who sees their profile and their information’s visibility.
- Writers can define their top credits, set their availability, upload and tag samples, and even add references.
- Writers can search the executive and company database and see who works at which studio, what projects they are working on, and more.
- Both writers and executives have access to tools that track new and upcoming pilots, as well as access to Find a Writer Pro, which is like IMDB for writers with a remarkably robust filtering system.
With all of these tools, the platform gained traction quickly - with over 800 companies with more than 1300 executives seeking writing talent in the first phase of the roll-out. More than 10,000 writers have taken advantage of it, all with a tremendous success rate. None of this would have been possible without this carefully designed, industry-specific platform.
Thinklogic Inc. is a consulting firm specializing in web design, web development, and custom business software solutions since 1998. With offices in Los Angeles and Pasadena, Thinklogic has successfully executed projects for up-and-coming startups to Fortune 500 companies.
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