Q&A: Your Questions, Answered
Have a question that isn’t addressed by the information on this website? Contact Antoinette Morgan (Agreement Administrator for digital projects) and we will post your question and answers here.
Question: Is anyone actually using the suggested rates in the Digital Guidelines?
Answer: The Guidelines are based on statistics that we have compiled from actual contracts we have received. So yes, people are getting those rates. At times web series for TV are used as a proving ground for new talent and they tend to be pay their writers less, much like a junior writer in a writers room. However, experienced talent should get at least the rates we’ve suggested.
Question: What are my obligations to other unions once I am a WGC member.
Answer: If you choose to work with members of other unions (example: ACTRA, CMPA, DGC etc.) that is your choice. Your obligations to the WGC do not extend beyond the WGC.
Question: What are my obligations to other writers once I am a member of the WGC?
Answer: It doesn’t matter who you hire to write on your show, as long as you file IPA contracts for all of them. Digital rates are 100% negotiable, so if you can’t pay what we suggest in the Digital Guidelines,that’s just fine. You can hire members or non-members, just as long as you file the contracts with us. That said, you MUST pay their I&R (fringes) – this is a percentage of the fee that goes to the WGC to be funnelled into the Insurance and Retirement funds of the writers on their behalf. If you can only pay your writers a little bit, figure that percentage into their fee. Example: If all you can afford is $200 each, then pay them FEE + I&R = $200. We strongly urge people not to put $0 or a token amount on contracts; other parties (i.e.funders and granting bodies) gather stats on these fees when they can, so they can influence rates in the industry. Token payments impute the value for the work, and do a disservice to everyone working in the Digital sector. We strongly urge you to value your work and the work of your hires fairly (we have suggested rates in the Digital Guidelines) for both your sake, so people know what your work is worth, and for the sake of all digital writers in general. It also informs our research and future Guidelines.
Question: Can the fees be paid lump sum or does the Producer have to follow a certain payment schedule?
Answer: Fees may be paid as negotiated between the parties; therefore, either lump sum or increment payments are both acceptable.
Question: Do I have to bring all projects under the Agreement even when a non-WGC member is being used?
Answer: Once a signatory, companies must engage writers under the IPA. The Producer must file and pay remittances to the Guild on all the contracts of those who perform writing services for the project (WGC members and non-WGC members alike). If you feel that your case is unique and requires an exception, please contact us and we can help guide you.
Question: What if I want to put my digital platform on television? How will I be able to do that?
Answer: If you have been offered a chance to air your project on television and if there is payment involved, we strongly suggest that you offer the writers a portion of that monetary gain as a step-up fee. By moving to television, your program is occupying shelf space as traditional Canadian programming for which the screenwriter would have been paid television rates as determined by the collective agreement. It is therefore only fair that the screenwriter on the digital project, who was likely paid a lower rate, should receive a step-up if the project moves to television and receives new revenue. To that end, we suggest you include a clause in your contracts stating what both parties will expect if such an opportunity arises.
Question: Is there any Distribution Royalty for Digitals? How is it calculated?
Answer: While all compensation in digital is negotiable, we do suggest producers refer to the Digital Guidelines on this. They suggest that after an established use period, the Producer pays 5% of Distributor’s Gross Revenues from the first dollar on any Digital platform or distribution through any Digital platform. Please see article D of the Digital Guidelines for a fuller explanation.
Question: What do we do if after the initial six months we want to run the digital program some more?
Answer: Once again, while all compensation in digital is negotiable, we do suggest producers refer to Fee For Use article in the Digital Guidelines on this. In addition to the initial Script Fee, we encourage Producers to negotiate an additional usage fee with the writers they engage that will cover a period beyond the initial six months since a project may spend much longer than six months available to audiences.
More questions coming soon!