When you tell people they’re actually going to film the script you’ve written, the first two questions are always, “Is there a premiere?” Are you going to the premiere?” Part excitement, part shock, that you, a writer , a goblin troll thing that sits in a dark cave and makes a living writing fart jokes actually come out into the open. For most people, premieres are mythical things, full of flashbulbs and red carpets, and for a writer the rarest thing of all: recognition. People win competitions to attend premieres. The news reports on firsts. The magazine your aunt reads has full-page splashes at premieres, and if you’re lucky enough to get half a face in a photo while standing way behind a star, relatives at home will crop it out and frame it. “Look, there’s Zendaya and my nephew Kevin.”
I’ve dreamed of writing a film since I was a kid, ever since my dad showed me things way too mature for my sugar-drenched brain. full metal jacket at the age of 9? Why not. I came to Hollywood with a dream of writing films and pursued it for 20 years. I loved working on TV, but movies are different. Greater. “One day,” dad said, “maybe you’ll take me to a premiere.” Here was the man who taught me to love movies, and now I could have a wish and a dream of mine. There was to be a major premiere for a film I co-wrote with Scotty Landes, no less than a summer film. And I wanted to take dad with me. The film is even a father-son story. It feels too perfect to be real, my own piece of Hollywood magic, greatest gift, reward and recognition of all time.
And I’m not going. Well shit.
At first my ego said I had to do it. I worked too hard for that. And Papa would be by my side, watching as his son’s chosen career materialized in a way that might allay some of his countless late-night worries about the outcome of my life. The WGA has suggested that writers don’t go to their premieres during the strike… but that’s not a rule, is it? That was different. I had to go. I deserve this, right?
A big reason I love this job is the people I’ve had the good fortune to work with. (director) Pete Atencio and (lead actors) Bert Kreischer and Cale Boyter (producers on Legendary) on this film. On other projects, the writers, actors, directors, editors, hair and makeup work. A transpo guy who taught me how to make paella. The Griff who was the funniest person on the show. i love these people We’re on strike because each of them is being negatively impacted by the studios’ unverified plans. Guess who doesn’t work when your movie is AI generated? All above. It’s not a speculative concern; That’s something studios are currently getting numbers on. Writers’ contracts are getting shorter, staff is shrinking, crews are trying to cobble together enough money to pay the rent as they work less and less on shorter series.
Almost every person at every level in our industry is injured and fears it will hurt them much more.
Then I come to my premiere wearing the “fancy” outfit that writers wear when they want to dress up but pretend they don’t care The pretty much an idiot wearing a James Perse hoodie. Drinking alcohol, partying and pretending that the crews and other writers are worried about a viable future in this industry is not my thing. You have to separate joy and sorrow if you want to be sane in this business. But now? With so much at stake? It feels wrong
Teams makes films and television. individuals do not. Always. This fight is for all of us. When you have a lot of money or power, it’s sometimes difficult to understand, but the starting point is clear. The studios are on one side; on the other side are everyone else. The studios are all about profit. If we don’t care about standing up for each other, big and small, we have nothing. And that’s why I can’t go. If you find yourself in a similar situation and make a different decision than me, that’s fine. You will sacrifice something in your own way. Just be aware that if you don’t make a sacrifice of your choice now, you will make one of a billionaire’s or a CEO’s sacrifice later. And it will be painful.
Writers are stupid. We let ourselves be consumed by writing and think about it in our free time. Studio managers do not run studios in their free time. They go sailing. That’s probably healthier. But when something consumes you, you’re willing to give up almost anything to defend it. Our choices as writers today will determine our existence. The AMPTP’s decisions will determine whether the studios make a little less money.
I’m just a writer who chose not to go to her premiere. I know. So what. Big thing. But not taking my father to sit out a spiritual gratification I’ve been striving for for decades? This breaks my heart. Every dream is different. This was mine. But at a time when so many don’t even get a chance to fight for their dreams — if they’re just struggling to make enough money to live on — this is the right sacrifice.
Dad got it. But he’s a realist. He asked, “Do you really think anyone’s mind will change if you don’t go?” I hope the people on the other side of this strike will understand very, very clearly the answer I gave him: When I’m ready am giving up a lifetime dream for our cause, imagine what else would writers give up? Imagine how far we will go.
We don’t give in. We fight for all of us, no matter how long it takes. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take too long. The world needs more inappropriate movies for fathers to take their sons to. And if one day you write this film and you go to your own premiere? Take a picture with Zendaya. I promise I’ll frame it.
Kevin Biegel was co-author The machine alongside Scott Landes. His TV appearances include: Cougar Town, incorporated And scrubs. Previously he wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter about a deeply personal episode of registereda comedy inspired by his siblings that he created for foxes.