Running Hollywood's Writers’ Strike with the showRUNNERS
How can one Hollywood writer running between the picket lines in Los Angeles help the Writers Guild of America achieve fair pay for their members? Community.
Welcome to Running Sucks, a running blog where I talk to interesting people in the running world to find out how to make running suck less.
I’ve previously mentioned my love of TV and film (I’ve challenged myself to watch an average of one movie a day in 2023, for instance), so when the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and its 11,500 members went on strike on May 2nd after talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) broke down completely, it was concerning.
Last time there was a writers’ strike, in 2007, the 100-day strike meant that shows that were doing well lost their momentum and many others lost episodes, some films barely made sense, and we were inundated by even more reality television than normal.
It’s concerning! But how am I going to tenuously link another one of my other passions to running, though?
On Saturday, I was forwarded a tweet from television writer, Chad Gervich, who was tweeting at the unions and strike captains to let them know about something he was planning: the showRUNNERS. I got in touch.
Chad normally runs with clubs on the Westside of Los Angeles, such as the LA Running Club and the LA Marathon coaches LA Road Runners, , as well as occasionally joining track night with speed demons Good Vibes.
Since the start of May, however, Chad has been running the few miles from his home to the pickets outside of Amazon and Sony every day during the strike, which led to this idea.
How can running between picket lines help the writers’ strike, Chad?
“To a lot of people, it’s abstract. When the teachers strike, that touches everybody’s life because you can’t take your kids to school and maybe you can’t go to work. With the writers’ strike, you’re vaguely aware that we’re the ones writing the scripts, but when you turn your TV on, there are still shows.”
“Hopefully by seeing us running or even coming out and joining us and talking to us, people will understand that we’re real people, how our lives are being affected, and how their lives can be affected if this doesn’t get resolved.”
For clarity, the business of writing has changed over the last few years. Anincreasing numbers of writers are working for union minimums and for fewer and fewer weeks of the year, regardless of experience. The rise of streaming has also changed the amount they receive in residuals.
Without the writers, the directors have nothing worth directing and the actors have no lines. Without the writers, we will be left watching a slew of benign AI-produced content made just to check boxes and fill airtime rather than inspire awe and fever dreams.
For a moment in time widely heralded as the golden age of television, this decrease in pay for many of the people who craft the narrative stings.
The WGA has committed to striking “until [they] get the deal that [they] need to make sure that writing is a viable profession.” As a writer (nothing to do with TV!), I naturally support that, but on a more general level, working people striking against people taking tens of millions of dollars home really, really not wanting to pay fair wages is exactly what we all ought to be supporting.
Why do you run?
“About 10 years ago I was so out of shape, so I started running my kids in a jogging stroller. At the start 2 miles is really hard and then 2 miles is nothing. Then 4 miles is really hard, then 8 miles is hard, and so on.”
“Now? The feeling I have after a good long run is the best feeling I have all day.”
“I have truly in my life never done drugs so I can only imagine... but I think you do get addicted to it. I can usually skip one day without running but if I skip another day, I get shaky and jittery. I crave it!”
What makes running suck less for you?
“Every Saturday morning, I wake up earlier than I do during the week and I go and meet my running group in Santa Monica. There are hundreds of people down there sometimes. I love it because the rest of the world is still asleep and has no idea this community exists, is awake, and is already out there on the beach and on the trails. It feels like, ‘This is mine. This is ours. And nobody else knows that it’s here.’ I love that feeling.”
The most optimistic pundits are predicting the strike to end in July, while the realists and pessimists among them are suggesting something closer to 2024. With that in mind, Chad is hoping that the showRUNNERS can become a weekly community-building run along the picket.
“For me it’s a way to do the things I really love doing. To be with writers and be part of the strike in a unique way, and also get my run in for the day. I think it’s a really fun way for writers who like to run to come together.”
I’ll be joining the showRUNNERS this Thursday, May 25th, 2023:
9.00 - Meet at Amazon, picket
9.45 - Run to Sony, picket
10.45 - Run to Fox, picket
12.00 - Run to Amazon, picket
It’ll be a 6-7ish-mile route through Screenland at a comfortable pace, so come join us at any point along the schedule. We’ll be the ones in running gear.
Ways of making Running Suck less discussed today:
Appreciate your increase in fitness
Keep morale high along the picket line
Feed the healthiest addiction out there
Bask in the glow of your running community
Demystify the reasons behind the 2023 Writers’ Strike
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