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The creative industry loses when works become tax write-offs


Screenwriters and other creative industry folks lose residuals and portfolio pieces when shows and movies never get released. In the comments it also sounds like health care is connected to residuals?

This practice is another facet of the self-cannibalization that’s happening to the creative industry — which makes sense if studios truly believe AI will save them. If they think audiences will be happy to watch movies starring CGI Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis forever, it’s no problem not to invest in building up a new generation of actors. If they think generative AI will create good enough shows and movies, they can let go of their screenwriters and other technical staff.

Maybe audiences will be fine watching mediocre movies with the same actors and subscribing to streaming services with a huge catalog of nothingness if there are no other options… but I sure wouldn’t stake my entire industry on it. There are plenty of other options for entertainment besides movies and TV. People are already sick of the boring shit studios are making because they will only make guaranteed hits. Netflix is already facing stagnation in subscriptions. The giant library of crap approach worked for Amazon Prime because it was positioned as an add-on benefit to Prime shipping — people weren’t signing up just for the streaming service.

Ironically, I think studios are recognizing these trends… but see AI as the solution. That by switching from human labor to AI, they’ll go from making a handful of boring but reliable hits to releasing a torrent of mediocre content. Maybe that will even make their cruddy feature films seem more attractive in comparison.

See also: Solidarity with the writer’s strike ✊✍️

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

5 replies on “The creative industry loses when works become tax write-offs”

Last weekend I had a brief chat with a former co-worker who is now in the WGA and his take was that the studios are actually of two minds about AI. The studios would love the cost savings of not paying human writers, but they are also very afraid that AI will wreak havoc with intellectual property.

In other words, how will the studios still make money if *anyone* can make a CGI Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis movie?

I’m glad to hear the studios recognize this! I saw someone writing about that idea recently and agree it could be a threat to the studios if the technology really does get that good that anyone could make a feature film with minimal effort. My thinking would be that it’s even more important to have good writers on hand in that case, because most people don’t understand story craft 🤷‍♀️ Novelty can entice for a while but most people won’t want to waste their time on poorly told stories. So hopefully the studios will see the value in their writers and come to an agreement with the union that allows screenwriting to remain a viable career 🤞 Because besides craft and IP, what studios have going for them compared to indie creatives is distribution and advertising, which will help but I doubt will be enough for the scale of profit they’re accustomed to.

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