Writers, directors and producers of feature films supported with Lottery funding through the BFI Film Fund are each set to reap the rewards of the film’s success, thanks to a new deal struck by WGGB, Directors UK and Pact.
Up to a 37.5% share of BFI’s recouped income from supported film productions is put into a ‘locked box’, where it is held by the BFI and available to be drawn down for developing and producing future film projects – ensuring revenue from successful BFI-backed films is invested directly back into the British film industry, and enabling those responsible for the film’s success to create more film projects.
Working together as The Filmmakers’ Alliance, WGGB, Directors UK and Pact have agreed that the recouped income from BFI Lottery-backed productions that is held in the locked box will be split three ways, with writers, directors and producers each guaranteed a minimum share of 12.5%.
Locked-box revenue shares must be used for reinvestment in film development and production. Writers, directors and producers are free to reinvest their guaranteed share collectively or independently of each other.
The agreement takes immediate effect and will be reviewed in 2017.
The deal delivers on a pledge made by the BFI in its Film Forever five-year plan and one of the recommendations of the Film Policy Review led by Lord Chris Smith in 2013.
BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said: “Rewarding success and giving talented writers, directors and producers the creative and financial autonomy to develop and produce future projects is absolutely key to many of the plans we set out in Film Forever. I’m so pleased to see this agreement come into force and I’m looking forward to seeing exciting new projects which have been borne of success.”
The Filmmakers’ Alliance on the locked box deal
WGGB President Olivia Hetreed
“The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is delighted to be a partner in this initiative with Directors UK and Pact. The ability to use creative success to create more funding possibilities for development, the most hard-to-fund area of film-making, is a critical step in turning a dependent film culture into a genuinely diverse and independent one. We applaud the BFI in taking up the Film Policy Review recommendation and trust that other publicly funded institutions will follow suit.”
Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns
“This deal is important because it brings together the three key creative film-makers on every BFI Film Fund supported film production. It aligns their interests in making their film as successful as possible and ensures the success of one film can be transferred into their development and production of new works.”
Chief Executive of Pact John McVay
“This is a very beneficial way to ensure that all the key creative partners in the creation and production of British films can share in the success and reinvest the funds into new film projects or activities.”
Commenting on the 2015 Budget, which expanded existing tax credits for TV, film and videogames, General Secretary of WGGB Bernie Corbett said:
"It took a lot of pressure and campaigning to persuade the Government to provide serious tax-break incentives to film, high-end TV and videogames. But we were right, and they are working fabulously well, and it is terrific that George Osborne gets this and is improving these policies.
"But given that Mr Osborne recognises that 'our creative industries are already a huge contributor to the British economy', why does he continue to starve the subsidised arts sector, including BFI and Arts Council England, of cash?
"These are the places where the talent of tomorrow will come from. Tax breaks today are great for people who pay tax today. But strangling emerging culture, arts and entertainment only means that there won’t be anybody there to benefit from tax breaks in a few years’ time."
WGGB has joined Scottish writers in opposing the ban of a play written by WGGB member Gregory Burke. The headteacher of a school in Angus recently banned the play Black Watch (see video above) from the curriculum because of bad language and sexual content.
Her decision has generated controversy and column inches in a number of Scottish papers (including The Herald), resulting in an open letter from a group of writers and endorsed by Scottish PEN. The letter, co-signed by authors Ian Rankin and Louise Welsh and screenwriter Mike Cullen, calls for the ban to be overturned. They describe the text as an “essential piece of Scottish culture”.
Black Watch, which explores the Scottish regiment’s time in Iraq, is based on interviews with soldiers and is approved by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). The writers claim that the play “allows us to hear soldiers speak in their own voice about their lives and the effects of momentous political decisions… When we ignore those voices, we step away from an important dialogue about our society, and our understanding is worse for it.”
They say it is “more important than ever for our educators to highlight the fundamental importance of free speech and expression to a healthy society. But it is hard to set a credible example if the school itself feels the need to prevent its students from studying a piece approved by the SQA due to concerns about its content.”
WGGB General Secretary Bernie Corbett commented: “Education is not about being mollycoddled, it is about being exposed to facts, ideas and influences, however uncomfortable. This is the only way human minds can develop and evolve. A return to Bowdlerism would leave our young people ignorant and unprepared for real life. In the Western so-called democracies we are clinging on to free speech as if for dear life. Censorship in schools would be another battle lost in the perilous war against a new dark age.”
Lending his voice to the fray, former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond told The Courier there could be “no blackballing of The Black Watch”. He said the play provides the definitive explanation of the Scottish attitude to warfare: “It explains why as a nation we can be pro-soldier but anti-war; why we understand that very good men can die for very bad reasons. Certainly, some of the language is choice. After all, it reflects the real-life experience of Scots squaddies. However, it would be unwise to ban plays on these grounds. It would rule out most of Shakespeare, for a start. And crucially, we are talking here about fifth and sixth year pupils - ie young people of the age who were entrusted last year with the vote about the future of their country.”
Accustomed to controversy over the play, Burke has remained steadfastly calm. However, he told WGGB: “I would like to thank Scottish PEN and the authors who have spoken out in support of Black Watch. I am also full of admiration for the determination the students have shown to study the play, despite the obstacles which are being put in their way. Hopefully, a resolution to the impasse can be found.”
It wasn’t just an unexpected storm that hit The Archers in recent episodes, when the River Am burst its banks, residents were evacuated from homes and farmers battled to save livestock.
The BBC was inundated by complaints from viewers, who took exception to the background rain noise and the live, rolling news updates and real-time blogging which accompanied the week-long storyline.
For some, the high drama was just too much. One listener said: “I thought the acting sounded good last night but the storyline was too stressful. Bring back the Jam and Jerusalem.”
The controversial episodes were written by our very own Tim Stimpson, WGGB member and Deputy Chair. He bravely decided to step out from behind the storm clouds to chair a special event on the flood storyline for the Writers’ Guild West Midlands branch (which took place on March 25 2015 at BBC West Midlands in Birmingham).
Joining him were Archers editor Sean O’Connor, agricultural editor Graham Harvey and Pip Archer herself, Daisy Badger.
Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard (photo: Johan Persson)
Acclaimed playwright and WGGB member Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem is his first play for stage since Rock ‘n’ Roll in 2006.
Running at the National Theatre until 27 May 2015, its central character Hilary (Olivia Vinall) is a psychology student at Loughborough University, conducting experiments on adult motivation and child behaviour patterns.
Renowned for using drama to explore problems, Stoppard poses questions such as: how does consciousness come about? And how much is human behaviour the product of egoism or altruism?
You can book tickets, and see events running alongside the production, on the National Theatre’s website.