Star TrekScreenwriter John August has been doing an incredible job blogging about the WGA strike, and his encounters on the picket line. In one of his latest blog entries, August talks about a conversation he has on day 10 of the strike, meeting and chatting with Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams. The Star Trek director expressed his frustrations of being in production on a movie during the strike, and what problems it creates. Here is an excerpt:

“Damon is producing the new Star Trek movie, which J.J. is directing. Which is shooting on the Paramount lot. Which we are currently picketing.”

“Star Trek is the biggest movie shooting at Paramount. It’s directed and produced by WGA members, who are following the spirit and letter of the Guild’s rules. They’re walking the line while being forced to cross it.”

“‘Forced’ isn’t quite right, because there’s an alternative: J.J., Damon, and the other WGA producers could refuse to cross the picket line. They’d get fired, sued, and replaced by a less-conflicted director and producing team – all probably within a week’s time. What’s tougher to figure out is whether it would make a damn bit of difference.”

“Neither J.J. nor Damon are writers on the movie. But they are writers, and WGA members. During a WGA strike, you’re not allowed to write on movies or television shows, period. So they can’t change a word of the script, nor can anyone else. The script they had at 11:59 p.m. November 5th is the script they have to shoot.”

“To a screenwriter, that might seem kind of awesome. For once, the director can’t change things. But when its your own movie, it’s maddening. J.J. was describing a scene he was shooting the day before. Midway through it, he got a great idea for a new line. Which he couldn’t write. Couldn’t shoot. Couldn’t be in his movie.

“Damon described it like having one of your superpowers taken away.”

“You can absolutely make a movie without changing the script. Big Fish and Charlie were shot just like they were written. But to not even have the option of changing something is a bizarre restriction, like making a Dogme 95 film with a $100 million budget….”

Indeed.

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