Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guild tells Hunt of screenwriters' concerns

Olivia Hetreed, Chair of the Film Committee of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, has written to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to express concerns about a range of issues relating to screenwritng in the UK. The main body of the letter is set out below:
The Guild has a number of concerns which we strongly feel should be addressed in rethinking government support for British film-making.

We applaud your commitment to maintaining the current levels of funding and the tax credits, which have proven to be very workable for all sides.

We would urge you to ensure that the new funding arrangements recognise the importance of screenwriters in the film making process by maintaining development funding for screenwriters, and in particular that direct access for screenwriters is protected.

It is important that writers can continue to access such funding without necessarily having a third party (producer or director) attached. This has been a key feature of funding from UKFC, British Screen, and the BFI. The significance of direct funding is that it allows writers to hold onto their Intellectual Property rights in projects that they have created and initiated, maintain some control in the process of development and ensure that the development monies intended for writing the screenplay go fairly to the screenwriter and not elsewhere.

We believe that funding for experimental film-making and new work should be robustly protected, with a discrete fund and gatekeepers.

We feel that it is essential for screenwriters to have a voice at board level on the new body, in the same way that producers and directors were represented at board level at the UKFC. So we request that there is at least one screenwriter on the new board, selected in consultation with the WGGB and other interested parties.

It is also essential that the issue of film-makers’ creative rights should be addressed hand in hand with the principle of producers holding on to the returns from films. The present situation regarding creative rights is deeply unsatisfactory, since it prevents the creators from benefitting from the success of their work and sustaining the long term future of the creative industries in this country.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you or one of your team to discuss these and other matters of interest.

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