The writers strike took to the skies of Los Angeles on Monday, as a plane flew around all of the major production studios with a banner that read, “Pay the writers, you AI-holes.”
What started out as a joke among friends quickly became a reality — and a show of union solidarity — when writer and director Jacob Reed shared the idea on social media.
“Mostly, there’s just so many great signs. I was like, ‘Someone should put one of these in the air. Is that possible? Could you get a skywriter?’ And it started as a joke on my ‘friends only’ Instagram. I had enough friends immediately just be like, ‘Yes, I would chip in. Yes. Tell me what you need,’” he told Deadline while on the picket line at Paramount on Monday.
Reed quickly took the idea to his larger social media community, where the idea started to pick up traction. After a friend, who had been involved in a similar stunt during a previous strike authorization vote, offered to send Reed the flight path they used, he began to take the idea more seriously. He attached his Venmo to his social media, and the rest is history.
In total, Reed received just over $2,500 in donations from WGA members as well as members of IATSE Locals 44, 600, 700, 705, 728, 871, 892, SAG/AFTRA, The Animation Guild, DGA, United Domestic Workers, California Teachers Association, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. About $2,200 was spent to commission the plane and the rest was donated to the Entertainment Community Fund.
Here’s a closer look, via Twitter:
During the three-hour flight, the plane did several loops at each of the major studios across Los Angeles — Amazon Studios, Paramount, Sony, Fox, CBS, Universal, Warner Bros. and Netflix — which have been picketed for the past 14 days.
Reed is not a member of the WGA himself, but he is a member of the DGA. He’s been on the picket lines over the past two weeks supporting his sister union and chose to lead the flyover initiative because “it’s all of our fight.”
“Based on the timing of their negotiations, they kind of take a bullet for the industry and have to go first. So the better deal that WGA gets — which by the way, whatever deal they get is not going to be an insanely good deal. It’s gonna be basic things that any worker should have. But if they can fight to protect that, then it’s going to be an easier fight for SAG, it’s going to be an easier fight for the DGA. It’s going to be an easier fight for every other human being that comes after that.”
He added: “The only way to take on capitalism and take on these CEOs that have literal billions of dollars…that they can wait out a strike on, is if we all join together.”