Frank Spotnitz: “Erosion Of Power Of Writers In The U.S.” Can Serve As “Learning Opportunity” For Europeans
The “erosion of the power of writers in the U.S.” can serve as a “learning opportunity” for European storytellers, according to The X Files creator Frank Spotnitz.
Spotnitz called for a “set of core values that we can strive and live up to” alongside “practical concrete strategies in countries where resources are in short supply” to improve the quality of TV writing in Europe – the continent in which he has lived for the past 13 years and runs his production outfit, Big Light Productions.
Speaking at NEM in Dubrovnik, Spotnitz criticized the “folly” of American producers for “eroding the power of writers” in the U.S.
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“If U.S. studios succeed in suppressing the power of American writers they may well save money but they also may well reduce the quality and long term success of their own businesses,” he added. “The folly of American producers can serve as a learning opportunity for storytellers in Europe. Let us empower the writer not by turning them into gods that can’t be questioned but by working hard to improve their work.”
Once the strike is “behind us,” Spotnitz said Europeans should use its learnings to “be proactive and ask if there are ways we can tell stories better.”
Spotnitz, whose enviable credits list includes The X Files, The Man in the High Castle and Netflix’s Medici, said “there is room for improvement” in European TV, too much of which is not hitting a high quality stamp.
He called for more European writers rooms, stating that budget shouldn’t be an issue in many cases.
“Cost is the number one reason I’ve heard for Europeans to avoid writers rooms but in truth the cost of rooms is relatively modest compared to any line item in the budget,” he added. “Surely a commitment to making great TV will demand we spend more on the writing and development phase so we can all enjoy the creative and economic benefits that it is likely to generate.”
Netflix raises questions
In the U.S., Spotnitz said the streaming model pioneered by Netflix has “raised a lot of questions” and “accelerated the decline of traditional U.S. broadcasting TV, leading rivals to set up streamers.”
“While they are still trying to figure things out, streaming has proved a challenging business model to emulate,” he added.
“The effect that these practices have had on U.S. writers has been alarming, so much so that writers are on strike demanding compensation and better working practices.”
Spotnitz was speaking at NEM Dubrovnik, which is also featuring keynotes from Warner Bros. Discovery, SkyShowtime, Movistar, Sony and All3Media International execs.
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