Managers and writers are often unclear about what parts of theatrical motion picture writing services count towards pension and health benefits, and what services don’t. These are the rules:
When an employer options your client’s script and pays them an option fee, that fee is not reportable because no hired services were performed. An option becomes reportable if it is carved out of a purchase and writing services, such as a rewrite or polish, have occurred.
Theatrical projects have ceilings, a maximum reportable amount. The current theatrical ceiling under the 2017 MBA is capped at $225,000 for pension and $250,000 for health for a single writer or a team of two.
If only one writer is on the purchase/writing service contract, then he or she is entitled to the full $225,000 for Pension and $250,000 Health ceiling. If a team of two is on the purchase/writing contract, they each split the ceiling or $112,500 for pension and $125,000 for health. Team splits default to 50/50 unless specified differently in their writing services contract.
For example, if a writer is part of a team of two (Writer A & Writer B) and the team is hired and paid $300,000 for a first draft screenplay, the team splits the ceiling or $112,500/$125,000 each. If writer A then get hired on a separate contract for the same project as the sole writer and is paid $400,000 for a final draft screenplay, only the first $112,500 pension and $125,000 health is reportable. His employment as a team with writer B and as the sole writer gives him a combined maximum amount of $225,000 pension and $250,000 health.
A purchase by itself is not a reportable item. When a signatory purchases your client’s script and pays them for it, that purchase price is not reportable because no hired services were performed.
However, if the same signatory or studio purchases your client’s script and hires them to do a rewrite or polish of the script, the hired services trigger the purchase to become reportable up to the theatrical motion picture ceiling – and timing is important. If a script is purchased before any writing services are performed, it becomes reportable when the hired services occur. If the purchase occurs after writing services have commenced, the purchase becomes reportable when the studio buys your client’s script.
Important: the make-up of the writer – whether a sole writer or a team of two must be consistent with a purchase that includes writing services in order for the purchase to be triggered as reportable based on services.
For example, if Writer A & Writer B sell a spec script to a studio, they get their purchase compensation but no contributions as no employment took place. If Writer A is then hired by the same studio to do a polish, only the polish is reportable, not his/her portion of the purchase. This is because the writer make-up changed. In this scenario, if both writers were hired to do the polish, then both the services and the purchase would be reportable for the team up to the theatrical ceiling.
For more information, please contact Employer Compliance (818) 846-1015 ext. 603 or email us at EmployerCompliance@wgaplans.org
WELLNESS AND FLU BENEFITS
It’s Flu Shot Season
It’s nearing the time for your clients and their families to schedule a doctor’s appointment or visit a local pharmacy to receive a flu shot. Influenza vaccines are covered under the Fund’s Wellness Benefit. Your client will need to complete a “Member Submitted Claim Form” (located on our website under Health Fund/Forms), attach their receipt (keep a copy for their files), and submit it to the Fund office for processing. The cost of the vaccine is reimbursable in full under the Wellness Benefit – provided the annual $500 benefit has not already been used.
What If My Client Has Already Used The $500 Benefit?
The claim will be processed under the regular medical plan, subject to the annual deductible and co-insurance limits.
Other Services Covered Under The Annual $500 Wellness Benefit Are:
Routine Physical Examinations, Well Child Care (age 7 and older), Vaccinations and immunizations, Smoking Cessation Programs, Weight Loss Programs (excluding supplements and food), Nutritional Counseling, Genetic Testing, Life Style Classes and Fitness enhancement (Only those offered at UCLA/MPTV Industry Health Network locations) and Routine Mammogram and Pap Smears performed by non-contracting providers.
For more information, please contact Eligibility Department at: 818-846-1015 x189 or by email at: EMailbox@wgaplans.org.