Nominations are now being accepted for the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards 2014.
The Awards will be presented by writer, presenter, comedian, actress and producer Sandi Toksvig at a ceremony in central London on 19 January 2015.
Writers will be honoured in the following categories: TV, Theatre, Film, Books, Radio, Games, Children’s (TV and theatre).
The eligibility period is from 1 June 2013 to 26 September 2014 and all entries must be received by 17 October 2014.
There used to be a cliché that what America did yesterday, Britain would do tomorrow. Let’s hope it no longer holds, because some pretty rotten things are happening to writers in the US right now.
Horror stories have been emerging over the summer about the exploitation of writers on US reality shows, including some shows produced by the American subsidiary of ITV. People working on these shows have been put at risk because of disregard for health and safety, have been forced to work up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and if they complain they get sacked. They have no union protection, and without unionisation have no access to employer-provided health care.
Read this article in the Washington Post by the executive director of the Writers Guild of America East, Lowell Peterson. Also see the Gawker blog.
Two for the price of one
Unscrupulous drama and comedy producers have invented a loophole in standard practice to engage two writers as a “team” and pay them a single salary at the WGA minimum – or half each. Naturally, both writers are expected to commit themselves body and soul to the show. It is a clear and direct violation of the Guild’s rules. Read more
Guild member and award-winning playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s new production Roundelay has its world premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough on 9 September 2014 (running until 4 October 2014).
Roundelay consists of five short, self-contained plays (The Judge, The Novelist, The Politician, The Star and The Agent), written to be played in any sequence. Many of the plays are connected, sometimes through shared characters, sometimes through an overlapping narrative. Sequels turn out to be prequels, and each evening will develop differently. Tickets for the production, billed as a “unique adventure in theatre”, with 120 different possibilities, can be booked online.
The Writers' Guild has agreed to an increase of 1% in minimum rates for BBC radio writers. The increase, effective from 1 August 2014, emerged from a meeting of the Radio Writers Forum, which also includes representatives of the Society of Authors and the Personal Managers' Association (representing writers' agents).
But the Guild said it regards the rise as a "disappointing interim increase". General secretary Bernie Corbett said: "This is way below the current level of increase in the cost of living. BBC staff have been offered £800 a year, which for someone on £50,000 a year is 1.6% and for someone earning the national average of £26,500 is over 3%. Once again writers are being undervalued. We are continuiing our negotiations with the BBC in the hope of achieving a fairer settlement in the near future."
For an established writer on a standard two-transmissions contract, the rate per minute goes up from £91.73 to £92.65; for an episode of The Archers the fee goes up from £920 to £929. The agreement also covers short stories, abridgements, features and talks, prose and poetry.
For full details click here.
Following a recent meeting with directors from the three major theatres; Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court (collectively known as the TNC theatres) your Guild representatives have successfully negotiated an increase of 2% on all minimum fees effective from today, 1 August 2014. In real terms this means that the minimum fee for a play is now just under £12,000 (excluding upstairs at the Royal Court which is now £9,387). For further details of all the new rates click here.
Your old programmes could live again as downloads -- and you get paid
In the next few days the BBC will launch an unprecedented campaign to persuade writers to sign up to the digital future. Supported by the Writers’ Guild, the BBC will send letters to nearly 11,000 writers, writers’ successors, and writers’ estates – asking them to sign up to modern contractual terms.
The operation goes right back to the origins of the BBC in the 1920s and 1930s. From then right up to 2002, when radical new contracts were introduced, people who wrote for BBC drama and comedy did so under a confusing variety of terms, and for much of that period, all rights expired after 20 years.
That was when broadcasting was thought to be ephemeral, and tapes of classic programmes were routinely and unthinkingly wiped – to be re-used for sometimes much less worthy material.
Most old programmes never get repeated on network channels, but that doesn’t mean no one wants to watch them. Digital technology, such as the iPlayer and the forthcoming BBC Store, will make that material available once again. In some cases it will be free to view, as a public service, and in others it will be available to buy – the 21st-century version of the VHS tape or the DVD.
In order to make this switch, the BBC needs to be comfortable that it has the rights to draw material from its archives and make it available. After years of negotiation, the Writers’ Guild has agreed with the BBC that there should be a major exercise to gather these rights together – and in return, the BBC has agreed to new ways of paying writers – or their successors or estates. Basically, this means that writers will be rewarded in the same way as if they had written their scripts only a year or so ago.
If you have ever written a drama or comedy script for the BBC, you should soon receive a letter and a new contract for you to sign. In almost every case, the Writers’ Guild recommends that you should agree – that way your old (and sometimes long-lost) work can be revived and made available online.It is also worth remembering that you can withhold some of your works from the system if you wish, and that if you sign up you can later change your mind.
IMPORTANT: In a small number of cases, where there have been many repeats on network television, it will be smarter not to sign the new terms. But mostly, these new contracts will put old material back into availability, and generate some income for the writer as well.
For more information please visit this website. www.bbc.co.uk/writerslicence