I’m running for the WGAw Board of Directors. If you’re a WGAw member, I’d be honored and grateful to have your vote. My candidate statement is posted below (and in the printed election booklet).
The deadline for voting is September 20, 2012.
Many thanks to the WGA members who have endorsed my campaign:
Howard A. Rodman
Daniel Petrie, Jr.
Why I’m Running
When I was a video game designer fresh out of college, dreaming of becoming a screenwriter, I gave my first spec script to a slightly older friend who was already in the WGA. Without reading a page, he gave me the most discouraging feedback I’ve ever received:
“Video games are the future. You’re in the right business. What do you want to get into this one for?”
I didn’t want him to be right, and so I didn’t listen. I’d wanted to be a writer since childhood; I loved movies and TV, I loved video games, and I didn’t see those pursuits as mutually exclusive. Movies had survived the advent of television, so why should the explosive growth of video games and new media be seen as a threat to screenwriters?
I’m running for the WGA Board of Directors because I still love movies — and video games, and graphic novels — and it hurts me to see these crafts still failing to communicate. Too often, I’ve seen promising opportunities get lost because of one industry’s lack of understanding or true appreciation of the special skills of the other.
Every time a video game or graphic novel is adapted into a movie, a film or TV writer hired to work on a video game, a spec screenplay pre-sold as a graphic novel, or dozens of other increasingly common “transmedia” scenarios, cultures collide. Video game publishers don’t really understand what film screenwriters do or why we cost so much; film studios and filmmakers don’t understand the alchemy that lets one team produce a hit video game while another equally expensive effort flops; and moviegoers, gamers, and graphic novel fans hoping for magic see their hopes dashed time and again.
20 years ago, video games, movies/TV, and graphic novels were separate worlds. Increasingly, they overlap. I’ve worked in all three enough to know first-hand how differently they think. I’ve created original IPs, written for hire, and adapted works from one medium into another. I want us to understand one another’s worlds better.
- As a WGA member since 2006, writing for film and television, I’ve experienced the challenge of trying to build a career in an industry where many would say the opportunities are shrinking, not growing. I think that’s wrong: the opportunities are changing. The WGA needs to be ready for a world in which members are working for employers other than studios and networks. (Often, we’ll be working for ourselves.)
- As a game designer for over twenty years, I’ve experienced video games’ transformation from a cottage industry into a mass entertainment medium, as well as the recent indie-gaming renaissance that is offering new opportunities to independent creators. Video game writers don’t enjoy the kinds of protections film and television writers have fought to defend: credits, minimums, health insurance. Just because the world is changing, we shouldn’t concede what we’ve already won.
- Finally, as a comic book and graphic novel fan and author, I’ve seen a once widely misunderstood and underappreciated, geek-fringe art form become surprisingly mainstream. Some of these writers have become brand names. That’s a lesson we can learn. The more fans know who writes their favorite games, movies and TV shows, the more leverage all writers have.
I’m deeply grateful for the opportunities and quirks of fate that have given me apprenticeships and working experience in these three worlds. I’d like to offer my perspective to our Board.
Thank you for considering my candidacy.