Last week, the screenwriters at the Writers Guild of America went on strike, delaying production on numerous shows and movies. The writers are negotiating with the American Motion Picture and Television Producers; they want, among other things, more competitive pay, increased job security, and limitations on the use of AI.
Different shows have reacted differently. For instance, Stranger Things won’t be shooting its fifth and final season until the strike is resolved. Other shows like House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power have had already begun shooting when the strike was called; the plan right now is for them to keep shooting. According to Los Siete Reinos, House of the Dragon will film in Spain in the latter half of May.
On the one hand, that makes sense, since the scripts for the new episodes are already done. On the other, writing still happens on set. Things need to be rewritten, problems arise that need workarounds, sometimes scenes need to be added to fill time, etc; going back to Game of Thrones, the Littlefinger-Varys tête-à-tête scenes in season 1 were added after the fact, since the original episodes weren’t long enough.
George R.R. Martin: “There will be no further revisions” to House of the Dragon scripts
Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin weighed in on his Not A Blog, acknowledging that shows like House of the Dragon are in a tricky situation, since “those scripts must be shot EXACTLY as they were as of midnight on May 1. Not a word can be changed, cut, added, not a scene can be altered. All that requires writing… and from now until the strike ends, the writers will be on picket lines, not on sets.”
At the same time, he seemed to want to reassure fans that House of the Dragon season 2 will be alright. “The scripts for the eight s2 episodes were all finished months ago, long before the strike began,” he wrote. “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).”
There seems to be some tension here; even on House of the Dragon season 1, there were scenes added and altered on set, like this one between Alicent and her son Aegon:
As Martin points out, he’s taken part in writers’ strikes before, and he’s worked in TV for decades, so he knows that writers have roles to play on set, even after the scripts are done. But he also wants House of the Dragon to do well, which could account for the mixed messages here. The strike is mixing up everyone.
The Winds of Winter is still “priority number one” for George R.R. Martin
Martin also mentions that the writers’ room for the newly announced Game of Thrones prequel show A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms has been shut down, which is no surprise.
And finally there’s the other things Martin is working on: The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in his Song of Ice and Fire series. Is that affected by the strike?
“Some of you, I fear, may be having anxiety attacks just now, on the mistaken assumption that this strike affects WINDS OF WINTER,” Martin wrote. “You can relax. The WGA is a union of film and television writers. It has nothing to do with novels, short stories, or any other form of prose fiction, nor comic books and graphic novels, nor stage plays, nor the editing of collections and anthologies. I have on-going projects in all those areas, and that work continues unabated. And WINDS continues to be priority number one.”
Of course, Martin has been working on The Winds of Winter for almost 12 years now, so the book can take way too long to write without any help from a strike.