EXCLUSIVE: “We are today… WGA!” was the cry outside Cologne Cathedral yesterday evening in Germany, where around 50 protestors held a rally in solidarity with their WGA counterparts in the U.S.
The demo was pulled together as part of the global Screenwriters Everywhere protests, which encompassed 20 locations around the world. On the ground in Germany were a mix of local writers and WGA members from the U.S. carrying placards and red whistles.
Don Schubert, a German-Canadian writer and director for German networks such as ZDF, led the protests, shouting messages of solidarity with the WGA through a megaphone. Though relatively small, there was a carnival-like atmosphere as writers posed for pictures and their children and dogs ran through the prongs of tourists there to see the mighty 157m cathedral — the largest of its kind in the world.
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On the sidelines, Schubert outlined the German writers’ message of solidarity. “We all share the same kinds of problems [with the WGA], dealing with production companies and streaming providers,” he told Deadline. “It’s a very dangerous time for us writers, also because of artificial intelligence. As soon as they striked, we knew we wanted to support them in the best possible way.”
The rally, organized by Deutscher Drehbuch Verband, was hastily put together after a call for global shows of unity for the American scribes, who put down their pens on May 2 and remain deadlocked in their talks with AMPTP. A separate demo was held by Berlin Cathedral as protests broke out across Europe. Yesterday, we were on the ground in London, where the likes of Russell T. Davies, Jesse Armstrong, Jack Thorne and Charlie Brooker turned out to express solidarity. Even war-torn Ukraine’s Guild of Screenwriters of Ukraine took part.
“There’s a lot of money around but it seems there’s never enough for writers, and that’s why writers are expected to do a lot of work for free,” said Schubert. “It’s not very transparent and the revenue share is not as good as it should be… and that’s why demonstrations like today are so important.”
At least two WGA members were present at the protest. Jimmy Loweree, an LA-based producer and writer with credits for genre titles Absence and Strings, has been in Cologne working on a feature project and took the opportunity to show his support for the union after receiving word from the WGA West. “It’s very inspiring,” he said.
“Talking to some of the writers here, I was surprised to hear they were inspired and really exciting about hearing us put a foot in the ground and say, ‘This is enough; we’re going to stand right here.’ It’s exciting to see they’re in our corner and we’re in their corner,” he said in an interview.
The rally came as Cologne hosts the annual Seriencamp event for the first time after it moved from its previous home in Munich. Several panels this morning are expected to address the European response to the writers strike, while the likes of Netflix, Prime Video and Paramount will be showcasing their latest German projects in a series of first-looks later in the day.
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