Annual Writers' Guild awards recognise those who support playwrights
Theatre Encouragement awards winners, nominees and guests - Back row(left to right): Bob Shannon, Andrew Curtis, Paul Milton, Mark Shenton Middle row: Gillian Hambleton, Juliet Forster, Mandy Fenton, Bill Hopkinson, Donna Worthington Front row: David James, Pippa Roberts, Anne Hogben
The Theatre Committee of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain presented its annual awards for the encouragement of new writing at a lunch ceremony at the Royal Court Theatre Bar on Friday.
The awards, the brainchild of the playwright Mark Ravenhill, were set up to give Guild members the opportunity to thank those who had given them a particularly positive experience in new writing over the previous year. This also gives the committee and the Guild a welcome opportunity to celebrate, rather than focus solely on members’ problems.
The winners of the ninth annual awards are:
Mandy Fenton, Equal Writes
Nominated by Andrew Curtis
'Mandy Fenton launched Equal Writes earlier this year to help redress the gender imbalance in UK theatre, where for every female role there are two male roles. Deciding that discussion and campaigning alone was no longer enough, Mandy launched a showcase with an open submissions policy. Over 600 writers entered 800 pieces of work, with 12 being selected and performed in March 2013. Of the 12 writers, four were male, including me. Sex was not a barrier in this sense; it was about what we writers, male or female, could offer in terms of writing female roles.
'The whole experience has really helped me develop as a writer. A writer finds out so much in the rehearsal room and during the performance, and I feel my writing was stronger for the experience. Mandy has been fantastically supportive. With her boundless energy and creativity, she has helped me and other writers bring their work to stage, while at the same fulfilling a broader social purpose.'
Lend your support to the new campaign from the Writers' Guild
'We really like your loaf of bread but we haven't got any money to pay for it.'
If that doesn't work in Sainsbury's why should it work with writers' ideas?
The past few years have seen a disturbing increase in the amount of work that writers are being asked and expected to do for free. While this has long been a problem with small, new or simply unscrupulous companies, it is fast becoming the industry standard even for large, well-resourced production companies dealing with established writers with significant credits to their name.
More and more, writers are being offered ‘shopping options’, asked to do ‘sweepstake pitching’, bake-offs’, free rewrites and ‘pre-writes’ – all for no money. It is becoming the norm to ask even established writers to write a trial script before they are even considered as a writer on a long running show – in some cases when they have previously written for that very same show.
The unpaid commitment now routinely expected of a writer constitutes weeks of work and time consuming, expensive research. If it is unacceptable to ask other professionals to work for free then it is unacceptable to expect writers to work for nothing. How are writers to feed their children and pay the mortgage?
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is launching a campaign ‘Free Is NOT An Option’ to address the problem of writers being expected to work for free. The campaign will highlight the scale of the problem and challenge production companies and broadcasters to address indefensible practices that are in no one’s best interests.
To give statistical weight to the campaign two online surveys have been published, ‘Free Is NOT An Option’ and ‘Free Trials’. The findings of the surveys will be confidential and anonymous and only used as statistical evidence in publicity campaigns and negotiations with major production companies and broadcasters. The surveys are open to all writers (whether Guild members or not) and can be accessed via the following links.
Free is NOT an Option https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/X8L8F2R
Free Trials https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XL8H6KP
Closing date of survey 1st January 2014.
New survey published by the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE)
The Federation of Screenwriters in Europe has published a survey of European screenwriters' income in 2012.
The survey was undertaken to inform a series of workshops for screenwriters’ guilds in European countries entitled Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in the Digital Economy. The online survey, asking seven questions, was distributed by 21 European screenwriters’ guilds belonging to the FSE (including the Writers' Guild of Great Britain).
Seven hundred professional screenwriters for both TV and film in over 25 countries responded and provided information about their income in 2012. The anonymous survey provides factual information to illuminate the discussion about authors remuneration.
Download the survey (pdf)
British screenwriter Tim John on making the move to Hollywood
I’d read plenty of books about how to write Hollywood screenplays, but never found one that also described what living there would be like. So I decided to write one. Adventures In LaLa Land chronicles the seven years I spent riding the rollercoaster.
How does real life compare to reel life? Do the stars create more drama off-screen than on? Is the local social network really full of desperate housewives? How do writers find work?
My main reason for going to Hollywood was that I had always loved films, so wanted to be right at the heart of the industry. The tricky thing was knowing when to go. Given the colossal gamble the film business is, it's hardly the sort of move you want to risk when you have young children and a bank manager to support, as I did. Having said that, in some ways the choice was made for me because I was ‘let go’ from my job as a London copywriter when the agency was taken over by another group. Everyone who, like me, was part-time, was let go. What a strange phrase ‘let go’, it implies you'd been chomping at the bit, bursting to break free.
The annual London South Bank University, Writers’ Guild and IGDA talk - 4 December
Interactive writing is not screenwriting. From character creation to plotting, format to structure, from root to interactive branch the process of creating a story and delivering the script has evolved from the skills needed to deliver linear onscreen experiences.
In the annual London South Bank University, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and IGDA talk, a group of experienced games writers Ed ‘Brink’ Stern’, Tom ‘FTL’ Jubert, James ‘Deus Ex’ Swallow and Andrew ‘Fable:Legends’ Walsh will examine a variety of techniques used in videogames writing and explore how they have used them in their own projects.
Date and Time: Wednesday, December 4 at 7 pm
Location: Keyworth Centre, London South Bank University
As always, we’ll head to the pub for a few Christmas drinks after the talk!
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/570224703050027/
New report says the creative industries are a hotspot for bullying
Creating Without Conflict report author Cathy John (right) with Anne Marie Quigg
The worlds of the media, arts and entertainments are often seen as glamorous, but a survey of 4,000 workers has revealed these industries are hotspots of bullying, with more than half of those questioned (56%) saying they had been bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work.
People who contributed to a survey, commissioned by the Federation of Entertainment Unions, ranged from household names, top screenwriters and performers to those at the beginning of their careers.
The results showed shocking levels of ill-treatment and inappropriate behaviour and a culture of silence, with only a third of those suffering bullying and harassment reporting the incidents.