According to a survey by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB), screenwriters are ‘left out’ of the making process, which found that more than 70% of writers were not given proper credit in the promotion and distribution of their work.
The WGGB says producers repeatedly prefer to credit actors and directors in marketing campaigns – leaving writers unrecognized for their craft.
WGGB research also found that 70% of screenwriters produced said a director rewrote their work.
Almost half said they were belittled and excluded from the creative decision-making process, and almost a third said they were insulted or mistreated in the course of their work.
The WGGB says this stands in stark contrast to the way playwrights are treated in the UK, where textual integrity is written into the terms of their contracts.
To counter what it describes as the “increasingly toxic treatment of screenwriters”, WGGB is launching a campaign to improve the status of screenwriters in the feature film industry.
The campaign will cover writer development, the creative process, media and promotion of the work of screenwriters, and will call for:
– Increased talent identification and development opportunities for screenwriters across the UK, similar to Screen Ireland’s Spotlight Scheme.
– Action to end bullying and harassment in the work of a screenwriter, including greater accountability of production companies receiving public funds and appropriate penalties for companies that fail to take action.
– A strengthening of the contractual clauses for the authors of feature films, avoiding their relegation to the status of “ghostwriter”.
The new findings from the WGGB mark the 10th anniversary of its Written Into the Picture report, which investigated the lack of visibility of screenwriters at film festivals on the international stage. The report found that 87% of respondents who had written films shown at film festivals did not receive an invitation, despite the director of the film being invited.
WGGB General Secretary Ellie Peers said: “You can’t have a film without a script and screenwriters are an integral part of filmmaking’s creative triumvirate of writer, director and producer. Yet writers are being shut out of the process, pushed to the background, and experiencing unacceptable levels of abuse, our new findings show. Every part of the creative team needs each other – from the very beginning of script development through post-production and promotion – so now is the time to shine the spotlight on the screenwriters and give them the credits and the credit. respect they deserve.