Could Writers Cut Out Studios?

Real change in today’s world comes from the energy and ideas of entrepreneurs, not from labor negotiations, writes Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times. To take control of their work, writers have to cut out the middleman.

"Writers who create something rare — a story with great, original characters that movie stars will cut their price to play — have a real value," says Mandate production chief Nathan Kahane. "But that value doesn’t get unlocked in the studio system. If writers are willing to share our risk, then we’re willing to give them a lot of control and share in the profits too."

THIS kind of entrepreneurial formula couldn’t have existed in the era when the studios had a stranglehold on every facet of the business, notably talent, money and distribution. But those days are gone. The stars became free agents long ago. In the last few years, with billions of private-equity dollars flooding the business, the studios have lost their lock on financing too.