• Alainna MacPherson

The Future of the "Zoom Writers Room"

Updated: May 21

Will the Zoom writers rooms continue after the world returns to “normal?”



With the vaccine nearly in full swing and studios returning to filming with a plethora of safety measures, the next biggest question in the film industry is whether or not writers rooms will return to in-person once things go back to “normal?” The short answer is, “we don’t know.” There are so many different factors that will have to be looked at and weighed in order for the higher-ups to make that decision. Here are some things that need to be considered…


FROM A STUDIO/PRODUCERS POV:


Pros:

1. More diverse voices.

Being able to hire remotely, allows a show to hire a black female writer from Oklahoma when your show has a black female character.


2. Less money paying for electricity for space, meals, overtime, Covid testing and safety supplies.


Cons:

1. Worry of a gap in communication between writers.

Not everyone is familiar with how to work Zoom and sometimes communication could be lacking.


2. Used to the old writer's room.

Those in the film industry for a long time, may not be ready to move into the tech world.


FROM A WRITERS POV


Pros:

1. More time to focus.

Without having to lose sleep for travel, worrying about stuff that needs to be done at home, family, and school, writers have more time to focus on their work and making the best out of it.


2. You don’t have to live in LA.

More and more people are finding that you wouldn’t have to live close to Los Angeles, New York or Atlanta, in order to make your writing career happen with Zoom writing rooms.


3. Writers with Disabilities get more access.

Having a disability of any sort could present obstacles to getting to the writer's room or simply staying in the room itself. Those with health issues don’t have to miss work if someone at the office has a cold because they are immune-compromised. And a person with autism can focus on work without having to worry about fitting in around his/her peers when they need to stim or get up and walk around.


Cons:

  1. For those who aren't tech-savvy, Zoom rooms could be a little difficult to get accustomed to.

  2. Could possibly mean more networking on social media. If you don't already have an active social presence, now is a good time to get that going.

During the Screencraft Writers Summit this past weekend, I was able to get answers from some veteran industry pros to some burning questions on the subject.


Q. Will this cause issues for screenwriters who are breaking in?

A. No. If anything, it will help them. There are a number of success stories of people getting hired via Zoom who had never met the writer before and even lived out-of-state.

- Kyra Jones (who got hired via Zoom for season 2 of Woke)


Q. What gets you into a “Zoom Room” VS. Traditional Writers Room?

A. Traditionally, a writer would get in through working on set in other ways from the writer's room. Working your way up and simply by who you know. With Zoom, it’s going to be a lot of the same stuff. Offer your help, apply for jobs that aren’t in the “writers room” and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. With Social Media being what it is today, Networking is even easier than you may think. Stories of people finding representation through Clubhouse are happening, even.

- Joey Tuccio from Roadmap Writers


Q. By keeping the “Zoom Rooms” is it eliminating other jobs, for instance, Writing Assistants?

A. No. People will still need Writing Assistants, even from home. Just because we will be working from home, doesn’t mean we won’t still need help. Parents, for instance, will still need assistance to meet deadlines and keep things flowing smoothly.

- Akima Brown and Meg Messer from reelfamiliesforchange.org



Alainna MacPherson is a screenwriter of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Action and Thrillers. She's also a novelist of in Adult, Young Adult and Children's fiction. On top of recently winning Best Action, Best Fantasy, Best Horror, she is also a Quarterfinalist in this year's Screencraft Fellowship Competition. Currently, she's finishing a book in a Paranormal Romance series and an Action-Thriller feature script.





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