Truckee local Becca Noble celebrates end of writers strike
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Truckee local and Hollywood writer Becca Noble joined thousands on the picket line this summer as the Writers Guild of America held a months long strike.
A devoted aficionado of horror and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, Noble has often found the dense woods to be a wellspring of chilling inspiration. In fact, her very first script, penned at the age of 18, fit into the horror genre. It spun a tale of prom night at High Camp in Olympic Valley, where students find themselves ensnared in a snowstorm and face a menacing monster. Noble aptly christened it Indomitable, drawing from the inscription at the Donner Party Memorial.
“Horror is a cathartic and wonderful communal experience. It has always been a vehicle for social and political change,” said Noble.
Watching a horror film instills bravery in Noble; if she can handle the fear on screen, she feels confident in facing real-life challenges.
Arriving in LA with no financial cushion and job prospects, Noble faced a challenging start. She secured a modest-paying receptionist position at Universal Studios, supplementing her income with babysitting gigs. With unwavering determination, she gradually climbed the ladder, transitioning through various assistant roles.
Hollywood is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The majority of individuals in the industry are barely making ends meet.
“There’s this perception that all people in Hollywood are rich. Most actors are not Brad Pitt and most writers are not Aaron Sorkin. Most actors and writers are working class and we just want to do this job because we love it,” Noble said.
It’s crucial for the public to grasp that the majority of individuals in Hollywood aren’t simply wealthy, profit-driven figures at the helm of the industry.
Up until September 27, Noble had been fighting for her rights alongside 11,500 screenwriters of the WGA for a total of 148 days. The Writers Guild of America, a union representing creators of scripted content, negotiates contracts to safeguard our members’ creative and economic rights. Engaged in programs and advocacy, the WGA works on various levels, from local to international, to promote writers’ interests.
The 2023 WGA strike, Hollywood’s second-longest, stemmed from a WGA and AMPTP dispute. The resolution secured pay raises, streaming residuals, new media revenue shares, and creative rights protections.
The strike caused disruptions, delays, and writer job shifts, costing California around $2.1 billion. The victory underscored writers’ negotiating power and left a lasting impact on the industry, sending a strong message to studios about upholding their rights.
Noble pointed out that due to the strike, studios ultimately had to offer significantly higher payouts compared to what could have been achieved through genuine negotiations in “good faith.”
The new contract spans three years, a reflection of the ever-evolving nature of the industry. A crucial provision for screenwriters is the introduction of a two-step deal. This ensures that when a screenwriter is hired for a project, they are entitled to compensation for both drafts. This safeguards against the common practice of hiring young screenwriters at scale for the first draft, only to replace them with a new writer for the second, leaving the original writer without work.
The contract also incorporates essential protections regarding artificial intelligence. Specifically, it stipulates that AI cannot be utilized to autonomously write a script, and it cannot be trained based on previously written scripts. These measures serve to maintain the integrity of the creative process and the contributions of human screenwriters.
Prior to the era of streaming, writers would receive residual payments each time the show aired. However, this practice did not apply to streaming, creating a disparity in compensation that screenwriters fought to rectify during the strike.
Now, a model has been devised to calculate performance-based streaming residuals. This means that both the Guild and streaming networks now have a framework to assess the success of these shows, and the resulting profits will be distributed among the writers.
Witnessing the WGA strike unequivocally showcase the union’s strength was immensely gratifying for Noble.
“I don’t think the studios knew what they were in for. We were out there every day for over 5 months. There were days it was over 100 degrees. We could all share how frustrating certain experiences and times have been in this industry. You can feel very lonely, but we’ve all been duped. We’ve all had a project we really care about die. The unity of being in a union is really powerful and you feel very special,” Noble said.
Amidst those blistering 100-degree days, kind-hearted writers and actors arranged for picketers to receive shaved ice trucks, offering relief from the sauna-like conditions.
In 2020, Becca Noble achieved her first feature film sale with Boyfriend Material. Currently, she is in the process of adapting a novel for New Line Cinema. Noble completed her studies at the NYU Tisch Screenwriting Program in 2015, garnering recognition through winning the Undergraduate Screenplay Showcase and earning the Charles Purpura Award for Excellence in Screenwriting.
Prior to dedicating herself full-time to screenwriting, she turned down an internship at A24 and instead spent two years working at The Howard Stern Show. Additionally, Noble served as Script Coordinator and Showrunner’s Assistant to Glen Mazzara for The Dark Tower pilot, a project based on Stephen King’s renowned series.
Noble has navigated a circuitous journey, but her steadfast devotion to writing has propelled her onward. The contract earned by the WGA represents a significant step towards ensuring screenwriting remains a viable career choice, and ideally, it will streamline the path for other screenwriters.
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