Apple’s Severance and HBO’s next Game of Thrones spinoff are the latest series to be impacted by the Writers Guild of America’s strike for better wages and working conditions.
The Writers Guild of America’s current strike is shaping up to be a shining example of just how much power workers have when working collectively. Take, for example, the way production has been halted on Apple’s Severance and HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones spinoff A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight due to picketing WGA members and allies refusing to cross the line.
Deadline reports that, in direct response to the organized demonstrations of striking writers, production on Severance’s second season in New York City and on The Hedge Knight — which is still being written — has stopped, with no clear date as to when things might ramp back up.
In addition to the writers themselves striking, Severance’s stoppage was partially due to members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (the production crew’s guild) and the Teamsters (the guild representing drivers and other manual laborers essential to productions) not crossing the picket line. These latest stoppages come as other series like Stranger Things and Hacks and movies like Marvel’s Blade have similarly been forced to hit the pause button following the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reaching an impasse last week over how much writers are compensated for their labor and a whole host of other workplace issues.
In a lengthy Not A Blog post about the production stoppage, why it’s happening, and how it affects The Hedge Knight, George R.R. Martin expressed his full-throated support for the WGA strike and encouraged the AMPTP to get used to the sight of “pickets in front of every studio lot and sound stage in LA, and many in other cities as well.” Whatever hope the AMPTP might have of the WGA backing down, Martin said, it should probably let go of.
“Maybe the AMPTP members will come to their senses tomorrow and offer some meaningful concessions, and the whole thing can be wrapped up next week,” Martin mused. “I would not bet the ranch on that, however. I have been through several of these since I first started writing for television and film in 1986. The 1988 strike, the first I was a part of, lasted 22 weeks, the longest in Hollywood history. The 2007-2008 strike, the most recent, went for 100 days. This one may go longer. The issues are more important, imnsho, and I have never seen the Guild so united as it is now.”
While the strike will impact The Hedge Knight, Martin was careful to note that writing work has apparently been completed for House of the Dragon’s second season, which began filming in London and Wales back in early April ahead of the strike.
“The scripts for the eight s2 episodes were all finished months ago, long before the strike began,” Martin insisted. “Every episode has gone through four or five drafts and numerous rounds of revisions, to address HBO notes, my notes, budget concerns, etc. There will be no further revisions. The writers have done their jobs; the rest is in the hands of the directors, cast and crew… and of course the dragons).”
Martin’s assurances that everything is copacetic with House of the Dragon’s second season will likely come as a relief to some of the show’s fans.
But as an increasing number of striking writers have pointed out, on-set writing is a significant part of the TV and filmmaking process that’s often crucial to making a finished project shine the way studios want it to. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be very interesting to see how House of the Dragon turns out when it eventually premieres on HBO and Max in the near future — hopefully at a point when the strike has come to a fair and equitable conclusion.
Disclosure: Vox Media’s editorial team, which includes The Verge, is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.