Thursday, November 12, 2009

Report from the World Conference of Screenwriters

On the Writers' Guild of Great Britain website, Gail Renard reports on the first World Conference of Screenwriters, which concluded in Athens last week.
We were reminded that the WGA strike two years ago enhanced the status of writers worldwide, and taught producers and broadcasters that writers mean business. We need to build upon that. As Lowell Peterson, the executive director of WGA East said, ‘No one will give you anything you haven’t the strength to take for yourself.’


  1. I was lucky enough to be there too and, as Gail says, it was inspiring stuff. Two simple and concrete suggestions were made which I would encourage writers to ask for and act on.

    One, made by Guy Hibbert, that writers should audit Film Festivals for their writer-friendliness: do they name the writer in their listings? Do they invite writers to speak at Q&As and to attend screenings? Do they give a screenplay award? Do they run other events relevant to screenwriting?
    The results can then be compiled into a Good Festival Guide - and the subsequent good or bad press may encourage the bad to mend their ways and reward the good for their wisdom.
    Any members planning to attend film festivals who are willing to undertake this audit should get in touch with the Guild.

    Secondly to encourage directors to follow the lead of Bruce Beresford on Mao's Last Dancer, adapted by Jan Sardi. Jan spoke on a panel at the Conference and told us that Bruce had not wanted the possessory credit, since he was a latecomer to the project, but that the distributors wanted to sell it as "A Bruce Beresford film". The compromise reached was to have "A film directed by Bruce Beresford" as the poster line.

    Olivia Hetreed

  2. Anonymous12:01 pm

    This might not be popular but I understand the distibutor's need to brand a film. "A Film By..." is obviously nonsense unless that person holds at least writer, producer and director credits however. Maybe we as writers should lobby for "Created By..." as an original credit (of orginal screenplays).

  3. Yes, Anon, that's exactly the beauty of the Bruce Beresford example - the distribs get to keep the necessary branding but without the nonsense of the Film by...

    But let's not mess with writing credits please. "Created by" is a producer credit waiting to happen if ever I saw one.



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