Writers on the Line

On the Line
A Killer Time on the Lines
Horror writers have a bloody good time, Jessica Williams on union solidarity, and one captain’s strike bike
Thursday, June 1, 2023

Horror Writers Have a Bloody Good Time

WGAW join the Horror Picket at Warner Bros. Studios.

At Warner Bros. Studios during Wednesday’s Horror Picket, visitors were all about the costumes, the props and the messaging – the gorier and more horrific, the better.

“We’ve had multiple Mike Myers, here. We’ve had Freddy. I saw The Ring girl. Pearl just walked by,” said Rebekah McKendry, listing off several iconic characters from the horror genre. “One of my old students was wearing meat. We’ve just had so much creativity.”

A ten-year veteran of the horror genre as a writer, producer and director, McKendry was approached by fellow WGAW member (and horror lover) Andrew Lobel who was looking for a way to connect with the horror writing community on the picket lines.

The response was enthusiastic, said McKendry who added that many of the writers who work in horror already know each other and see each other at genre events.

“There’s already this community that exists within the horror space, so being able to bring everybody together in one place has just been absolutely phenomenal for us to come out, fly our horror colors and really just preach our method,” McKendry said.

The picketers got plenty of food donated as well as coffee from Fangoria magazine.

But amidst their costumes, props and creativity, the horror picketers embrace the principles of what the Guild is fighting for, according to Lobel.

“Genre films tend to get treated as less than sometimes,” said Lobel. “In my experience, genre writers are often subjected to late pay and poor deals. We have a lot of fun with the work we do, and the work we do brings a lot of people joy, but it’s work, and everybody out here understands that we’re fighting for a better deal. Nobody here is forgetting that.”

Axelle Carolyn, a writer, director, and actress who works mostly in horror, has worked almost exclusively for streaming shows since joining the WGAW in 2018.

“I can only dream of a time when people used to make a living off their writing and their residuals,” said Carolyn. “The idea of buying a house in Los Angeles, based on having regular work and all those things, seems very difficult right now. Hearing people talking about how it was very different working ten or 15 years ago is what motivates us.”

“This is becoming a gig,” she added. “It’s becoming something you do when you’re privileged enough to work, and it shouldn’t be that way. Writing should be a career, and it should be something sustainable that allows us to have families and keep a roof over our head.”

Horror Strike Organizers Rebekah McKendry and Andrew Lobel at Warner Bros. Studios.

See Photos from Wednesday's Picket Lines

No Shrinking From Solidarity

Jessica Williams at CBS Radford
During her time walking with striking WGA writers on the picket lines, actress Jessica Williams (Shrinking, Love Life) has been getting a mini-education about unions – the WGA as well as her own.

“This has really taught me a lot about SAG-AFRA, the union that I have been in for a very long time,” she said during a recent picket at CBS Radford. “I’m wanting to learn more and figure out more ways to get involved.”

Williams has worked as a producer, a podcast co-host, and as a correspondent for The Daily Show. She also writes and hopes one day to become a WGA member.

Until that day, Williams is gratified to observe the strong solidarity that she has seen between the WGA and other entertainment unions. It’s a bond she expects will not go away even when the strike ends.

“It’s been very comforting to see the unions coming together. There’s something really nice about realizing that we’re all in the same business, and it’s important that we all communicate with each other.”

Although she did not grow up in a union household, Williams nonetheless learned the kinds of values that organized labor embraces.

“Growing up as a person of color, a lot of times our community is naturally disenfranchised in the workplace,” said Williams. “I always learned from my family that it’s really important to take care of each. As a collective, we’re stronger than we are when we’re apart.”

Wheel Me In! Meet the Paramount Strike Bike.

Paramount Lot Coordinator Garett Pereda and the strike bike.

What’s a WGA lot coordinator to do when he has to cover ten location across a sprawling studio lot, all of which need visits whether to put out small fires or to drop off snacks?

If you’re Garett Pereda, who oversees Paramount, you use your head. Then you bring in the wheels.

“We have seven picket lines that are all spread out and three neutral gates that we have to cover,” said Pereda. “I’m the coordinator here, so I have to bounce between each location to see what everybody needs and make sure everybody is safe and taken care of. I was walking down Van Ness. It was Day Two of the strike, and my legs were killing me. I literally Google searched “place to buy a bike,” and there was one right around the corner.

Pereda purchased the bicycle on the spot. Another lot coordinator, Tom O’Connor, bought a basket which a helpful Teamster attached to the bike. The Paramount Strike Bike has been on the job ever since.

“Water, snacks…one time we had an incident, and I had to bike over because somebody off the street was giving someone a problem, and we got the police involved,” said Pereda. My brother in New York is a biker, and he bikes for miles every day. That’s not me, but for the strike, I made it happen.”

Pereda and the other lot coordinators O’Connor and Bryce Schramm all make use of the bike. When the line shuts down, Pereda either takes it to his office or locks it up in a parking facility lent by John Wells.

“It’s kind of fun,” Pereda says. “It’s kind of become a little bit of a mascot over here at Paramount.”