Artificial intelligence (AI) has been causing unease among Hollywood writers, with chatbots that write or rewrite scripts being one of the key concerns. The Writers Guild of America is currently striking for better pay, but AI is looming as a rising anxiety.
AI chatbots could potentially be used to create a rough first draft of a screenplay with only a few prompts, such as “a heist movie set in Beijing”. Human writers would then be hired to refine the script. Screenplays could also be generated in the style of known writers. However, the WGA’s basic agreement defines a writer as a “person”, and only a human’s work can be copyrighted.
Regulations on AI in Screenwriting
The guild is seeking more regulations on how AI can be applied to screenwriting, and the studios are stonewalling on the issue. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has offered to annually meet with the guild to go over definitions around the fast-evolving technology.
Implications for Screenwriting
AI has already filtered into nearly every part of moviemaking, and its implications for screenwriting are only just being explored. Screenwriters are used to being replaced, but they now see AI as a readily available and inexpensive competitor. They argue that there needs to be a human writer in charge, and that they’re not trying to be gig workers, just revising what AI does.
The writers find themselves in the awkward position of negotiating on a newborn technology with the potential for radical effect. While AI can’t do what writers and humans can do, they fear that if the use of AI to do all this becomes normalized, then it becomes very hard to stop the train. The long work stoppage that many are expecting could offer more time to analyze how regenerative AI might reshape screenwriting.
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