Photo by Moises Marquez

Guild & Industry

A Decade of Dimming the Lights for WGA Members

The Guild Screenings turns 10.

After the historic strike of 2023, as the doors of the Writers Guild Theater reopened to admit movie-loving WGAW members and their friends and family, the Guild celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Guild Screenings with a belated, post-strike screening of Barbie. In classic Guild Screenings style, the movie was followed by a Q&A with co-writers Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, the first time they’d graced a stage together to discuss the film.  

WGAW staffer Kym Jackson with Guild Screening Co-Founders Ian Deitchman (left) and Scott Alexander (right). Photo by Moises Marquez.

A decade ago, when they served on the WGAW Board of Directors together, Guild Screenings co-founders Scott Alexander and Ian Deitchman envisioned transforming the program previously called the Writers Guild Film Society into an offering that could have broader appeal. 

“Before 2013, it was just a small group of members who paid to go. I felt it was important to make it Guild-wide. To have a place for everyone,” said Alexander, who rejoined the board in 2023. “That feeling of a clubhouse, where you can run into old friends, meet new friends and just hang out, talk shop and talk about writing. A community.”

The idea of community building was the foundation of Alexander’s pitch to the board in 2013. In addition to jettisoning the annual fee, Alexander, Deitchman and other members of the committee envisioned enhancing the program with added perks like taco trucks, cocktails, Q&A’s and special film celebrations. Not every idea came to fruition, but when the theater emerged from its renovation, the newly christened Guild Screenings had one thing in abundance… 


Previously, a single film would screen four times on a single day. Now, WGA members can look forward to four or five films over the course of a weekend. These include studio films, independent films, art house fare, foreign language films, documentaries, tributes and anniversary screenings. Each monthly schedule tries to include a selection of post-screening Q&A’s with a film’s writers. While the selection of films includes some non WGA-covered projects like animated and foreign films, Q&As are reserved solely for WGA members. 

“Our goal was to broaden the schedule significantly with the hope of increasing turnout, but also to showcase independent, arthouse movies along with the big studio fare,” said Deitchman. “Over the last 10 years, smaller films have been harder and harder to find on the big screen. We can’t program everything, but we really do try to program a mix. For some of these writers, this is the only opportunity they’ll actually get to see their film on a big screen.” 

We make ourselves punch drunk digging through release grids, trying to find cool little movies.

- Scott Alexander

The theater underwent renovations in 2013. When it reopened with Guild Screenings, it came back with such titles as Salinger, Gravity and The Dallas Buyers Club and a 30th anniversary screening of The Big Chill.

“We opened with a Larry Kasdan retrospective, which was our first attempt at curating a series,” recalls Alexander. “We were immediately thrown into the deep end, having to scramble and find a decent 35mm print of The Accidental Tourist. I quickly became friends with programmers at the American Cinematheque and the New Beverly, who could guide me to sources of old prints. Seemingly overnight, I was dealing with popcorn vendors and print archives, wondering what I'd signed up for!"

A look through the lineup that WGAW staff member Kym Jackson books each month is a study in eclecticism: studio tentpoles and awards contenders alongside foreign films and indie titles. Alexander, Deitchman, and Jackson routinely pore over the release schedules, after which Jackson hits the phones and emails, reaching out to her longtime studio contacts, or lately, to track down contacts at new studios. 

There is a certain amount of detective work. Toward the end of 2023, Jackson sent out a request to screen Godzilla Minus One. The reply came back in Japanese. But word got around and someone finally contacted Jackson and offered to facilitate the screening. 

In addition to the Q&As, a Guild Screenings showing will often feature special lobby decorations for family friendly films, such as the chocolates laid out for Wonka. February’s lineup included a diverse slate of titles ranging from studio fare like Madame Web and Argylle to Best International Film Oscar nominees The Teachers’ Lounge and Io Capitano. In honor of Black History Month, Kemp Powers returned for a special screening and talk-back of his 2020 Oscar- and Writers Guild Award-nominated One Night in Miami

And March will be just as eclectic. The Guild Screenings brain trust will make sure of that. 

“I email with Ian more than anyone else in my life,” laughs Alexander. “We make ourselves punch drunk digging deep through release grids, trying to find cool little movies. It’s particularly hard, now that the studios are making fewer and fewer features. We want to be clever curators and find cool stuff to show people.”

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