Monday, June 01, 2009

Are TV writers treated like dirt?

Last week we reported on Stephen Fry's assertion in The Stage that TV writers "are treated like dirt".

Several people posted comments in agreement, but let's put it to the poll (above, right). It's a simple yes or no, but feel free to add further thoughts below.

[See also Stephen Gallagher's blog post about getting an episode commissioned for US TV and the subsequent debate about how it differs from the process in the UK.]



    Please know that being treated like dirt should not go hand-in-hand with being a TV writer in Britain. If a member has a serious problem, then please contact the Guild and we'll deal with it. In some cases, if we know that more than one writer has an endemic problem on any series, then it makes it easier to deal with it anonymously, en masse.

    Writers should never be afraid. That isn't why we became writers.

  2. Meg Davis2:09 pm

    As an agent, if I were unscrupulously going to go for maximum financial return, I'd have only clients who were either A-list writers (and producers are all over them like a rash when they think the writer's someone who can get a series green-lit) or the young, cheap and bullyable.

  3. I think the situation is (and probably always will be) more complex than 'yes' or 'no'. Any writer who has had work optioned, produced or made will have 'horror stories' about that appalling producer/director/script editor, but the chances are they'll have also had positive, rewarding, professionally handled experiences too.
    It's also probable producers, directors and script editors also feel hard done by from time to time and no doubt blame those 'difficult' writers.
    While I'm all for practical and enforcable measures to protect writers from being cheated financially and/or creatively, putting up a yes/no survey only encourages everyone to vent their spleen rather than take practical action.

  4. Chris R4:45 pm

    You'll get bullied if you let yourself be bullied. There are some shocking Execs and producers out there who believe that 'another draft' will always solve the problem. Like generals on the Western Front who who believed 'one more push' would win the war.

    I've heard horror stories of half hour soap scripts going to as many as twelve drafts. This is plainly crazy. If a script has got to that stage, the poor writer is going to end up as demoralised and shell-shocked soldier. You're never going to win the battle that way.

    Better to walk when it looks like it's going shit-shaped. I appreciate that for a new writer this can be a tough one. But I've walked off programmes two or three times in my career and oh the feeling of relief and even power that comes with it.


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