This post was written by Capella Fahoome.
The first half of my life was spent as the daughter of labor union leaders in Detroit, Michigan often walking picket lines. The second half has been spent as a film producer promoting ideas of inclusion, equity, respectful engagement, and collaboration. The film industry may understand the details of the writers' strike, but what about the rest of us? What is behind the interruption of our favorite programming and award shows?
The WGA writers' strike is primarily about fair living wages and job security, I would like to offer that it is also about the universal question of about how we treat each other.
The culture of the film, and many other high-powered industries, fosters individuals’ willingness to do whatever is necessary to “make it.” Building relationships that encourage trust and freedom tends not to be the priority.
Instead, exploiting people’s passion with long hours, low or no pay, disrespect, fear, mistrust, and unfitting behavior has been the standard.
Lori Gallegos’s Inappropriate Adaptive Preferences (IAPs) may help us understand how this has been sustained for so long. IAPs describe situations where people tolerate less than optimal conditions, they accept deprivation and seemingly endorse inadequate behaviors. When creators are used as an instrument, a means to an end, they are more likely to become vulnerable to IAPs, potentially sacrificing well-being. Until they are not, and a work stoppage erupts.
Hollywood’s historical attitude of absolute power held by few is being tolerated less and less. Creators want environments that produce positive relationships and strong communication, they want to belong to teams that feel empowered and supported. They want leadership that energizes and values the creator, enables the best in people, and understands the power of nurturing positive relationships.
A leader is accountable for all aspects of production, from the safety of the team to generating environments that allow creativity to flourish. This can come in many forms, including support, protection, patience, and valuing and respecting the artists. Unfortunately, these skills are not always instinctual for production leaders and are rarely formally taught.
Technology is also a major character in this storyline. It is rapidly evolving the way we do everything, including consuming media and the WGA is asking that the agreements also evolve. This discussion about the intersection of technology and quality of life is not only happening in the film industry but in all industries.
The writers' strike is a symptom of a larger impasse that most organizations are or will soon face. The question of how we can use technology to increase the quality of life, not eliminate our livelihood.
Who better to start writing this narrative than the WGA?
Credit: Shoutout LA
We need to decide how we will use these advancements to enhance living standards. The film industry can fall victim to burnout, devalued relationships, depleted mental health, layoffs, and work stoppages. Assessing and improving well-being is crucial to creating a healthier and more sustainable working environment for everyone involved.
Hollywood has an opportunity here. We can become the exemplar for elevating the production standards and behaviors currently being practiced. First, by offering fair compensation and job security. Second by is a little more ambiguous but could be the long-term solution. I submit that the answer lies in sustained positive relationships, or how we treat each other.
If this assessment has merit, Hollywood will need to adopt behaviors that nurture and support creators’ well-being, at all levels by prioritizing relationships built on trust, mutuality, and positive relational energy.
Calls for equitable pay, safe working conditions, and job security must be answered. We also need to answer the call for an industry that allows creators to be valued and add value. Now is the time for Hollywood to shift this ancient paradigm of The Zero-Sum Game.
Production leaders can create communities of trust, respect, inclusion, and collaboration so everyone can thrive. The days of devaluing and depleting relationships have passed. This generation of creators responds to positive leadership, behaviors of empathy, integrity, values, fairness, wellness, equity, and a positive sum game!
We can do that.
It’s Hollywood! Anything is possible.
This post was written by Capella Fahoome.
Capella Fahoome is an award-winning creator, consultant, and speaker committed to the relational experience of transient and permanent organizations. She has produced and/or executive produced such films as Lost In Woonsocket (SXSW, OWN’s Super Soul Sundays), Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (Tribeca, Independent Lens, Netflix, Amazon Prime), Motherland (Sundance, Berlin, POV), Voices of the Sea (True/False, POV), I’M FINE (Thanks for Asking)(SXSW, Special Jury Recognition, BETher), and A Bunch of Amateurs (Sheffield DocFest, Audience Award). Capella is an outspoken advocate for inclusion, wellness, and fairness, and regularly speaks to and mentors young filmmakers. Capella grew up in Detroit, attended Detroit Public Schools, received a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Michigan, and earned a Master of Applied Positive Psychology and a Master of Philosophy in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania