Like all evolving organizations, awarding screenwriting credits must all adapt to reflect changes in the film production landscape, particularly with non-original scripts (rewrites, polishes and adaptations).
As screenwriters become hyphenates (writer-directors or writer-producers) and increasingly seek more ownership and creative control of their scripts, the rules need an overhaul. Back in the day, a newer writer was afraid to accept producer or co-producer credit, so that they wouldn’t forgo their “written by” credit.
The WGA proposes dropping the “written by” credit threshold to 33% from 50% following compulsory arbitration. Nearly a decade ago, a simliar motion was blocked to protect first time screenwriters from seasoned executives claiming authorship. This is similar to the credit rorting of “associate producers” who had minimal creative involvement in the production of a film.
Although the WGA is proposing a reduction in threshold, it is also demanding more substantial involvement from executives claiming authorship. The 50% threshold will remain for original work since it has a higher intrinsic value.
So there you go, comrades. A sign of the times as we evolve from screenwriters to fully fledged film makers.