Saturday, June 30, 2007

Give Us The Credits We Deserve

Screenwriters are asking for the credits they deserve in a manifesto to be debated at the International Screenwriters' Festival in Cheltenham next week, reports Dalya Alberge in The Times:

Thousands of screenwriters around the world have signed a manifesto demanding greater respect for their work from producers and directors. When the credits roll, they want their names in bright lights, along with those of the actors.

Screenwriters feel so strongly about the issue that they are staging a debate at the International Screenwriters’ Festival in Cheltenham, which runs from July 3 to 6.

William Nicholson, who scripted the Oscar-winning Gladiator, and Jeffrey Caine, nominated for an Oscar for The Constant Gardener, are among leading British writers who are calling for recognition of their rights over their films.

They claim that producers often employ production lines of writers. Nicholson was brought in on Gladiator after two writers had been sacked.

He told The Times yesterday: “The writers contribute to the end product, like the director, actors, cinematographers. But we writers are not asked for our own vision.”

Caine is also dismayed by how low the screenwriter is regarded. He said: “You’re invited on set on sufferance. If your lines are being shredded by an actor, you mention it to the director, who may or may not say something to the actor.

“Some actors don’t even acknowledge that they worked from a script. To listen to their Oscar acceptance speeches you’d think they improvised the dialogue.”

The manifesto, backed by guilds representing 9,000 writers, states that the screenwriter is a film’s “primary creator”. This is in conflict with Hollywood companies, which assert that the studios are the author and own the work.

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