Mike Leigh and other Guild members out in force at BFI London Film Festival

on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 09:56. Posted in General

Writers’ Guild member Mike Leigh’s much-anticipated Mr. Turner receives a gala screening at the 58th BFI London Film Festival, which runs from 8-19 October 2014.

The portrait of the artist JMW Turner is played by Timothy Spall, who won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for the role. The film focuses on the last 25 years of Turner’s life when his painting moved towards the Impressionist style for which he became remembered. It also probes the colourful life of a character who famously strapped himself to the mast of a ship so he could paint a snow storm.

Writer/director Mike Leigh has described Turner as "a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter… I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world."

The UK release date is set for 31 October 2014.

The BFI London Film Festival will bring 248 films to 17 venues across the capital over 12 days. It will feature screenings on themes including love, family, treasures, cult and thrill; and competitions, including the Best Film Award and First Feature Competition.

Other Writers’ Guild members whose work is being shown at the Festival include Gregory Burke ('71), Joe Fisher (Electricity), Leslie Stewart (Moomins on the Riviera) and Jack Thorne (War Book).

The full programme, including bookings, can be viewed here.

Peaky Blinders, Home Front and Soap City at Birmingham Literature Festival

on Thursday, 02 October 2014 09:04. Posted in Events

The close association between the Birmingham Literature Festival and the Writers’ Guild continues for this annual event, which runs from 2-11 October 2014.

The Festival, organised by Writing West Midlands, has been a staple of the city’s autumn calendar for 15 years.

Highlights this year include Meera Syal giving a talk on her writing, Jackie Kay celebrating National Poetry Day, Roger McGough and Liz Berry bringing their poetry to life, an evening with South African director, actress and writer Janet Suzman, and a day of BBC Radio programme recordings including Poetry Please and With Great Pleasure.

The Writers’ Guild has a members’-only event at the Festival, and there are also discounts for members at other talks.

Steven Knight: Writing Peaky Blinders
2pm, 6 October 2014

Peaky Blinders was a criminal gang based in Birmingham in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the earliest examples of modern street sub-culture, they got their name from sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, and have been brought to life by Oscar-nominated writer/director Steven Knight in his BBC historical drama series of the same name. This special media industry event is exclusively for Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, BBC Drama Village and Royal Television Society members. Steven Knight will talk to Writers’ Guild deputy chair Tim Stimpson about how he created compelling drama from a previously little-known period of Birmingham’s social history.

The event is free to Guild members and booking is essential. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

There is also another public talk at 6-7.30pm on the same day. Guild Members are entitled to a concessionary rate of £6. Further details and bookings here.

Writing from the Home Front
5.30-6.30pm, 8 October 2014

BBC Radio 4 is marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War with Home Front, a landmark drama series produced in Birmingham. It tells the stories of fictional characters who keep the home fires burning over the course of four years of war. Unprecedented in scale, the series includes 500, 12-minute episodes, broadcast until 2018 in ‘real time’, with each day’s episode set exactly a century earlier.

The series is being celebrated at the Birmingham Literature Festival with a panel event made up of Home Front editor Jessica Dromgoole, writers Shaun McKenna and Fiona Joseph, and actor Bella Hamblin. It will be chaired by historical adviser Professor Maggie Andrews.

Writers’ Guild members are entitled to a concessionary rate of £6. Further details and bookings here.

Soap City
6-7pm, 10 October 2014

Birmingham can rightfully lay claim to the title of ‘Soap City’, with The Archers, Doctors and Crossroads, among others, being produced, set or originally recorded here.

A panel of writers offer their insights on West Midlands’ connection with this genre, and share some of the particular challenges of writing for long-running series. Panellists include Guild members Mary Cutler (The Archers, Crossroads) and Tim Stimpson (The Archers/Ambridge Extra), Gregory Leadbetter (Silver Street) and Claire Bennett (Doctors).

Writers’ Guild members are entitled to a concessionary rate of £6. Further details and bookings here.

See the full Birmingham Literature Festival event calendar here.

Writers’ Guild joins gathering of screenwriters in Poland

on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 08:06. Posted in Events

Over 50,000 writers for film and TV were represented at the World Conference of Screenwriters (WCOS), which took place on 1-2 October 2014 in Warsaw.

A delegation from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain joined 29 other guilds and writers' organisations from 19 European countries, plus North America, New Zealand, Israel, Mexico, South Africa and India.

The conference, the third of its kind, took as its theme the ‘golden age of TV’ and explored issues affecting creators in the audio-visual sector. These included writing for an international market, independent cinema, episodic television and children and young audiences.

It also brought together authors of globally renowned film and TV productions, Oscar winners and holders of other prestigious awards, including Writers’ Guild member Andrew Davies (House of Cards) and Israeli film and TV writer Hagai Levi (In Treatment).

BAFTA-nominee and Writers’ Guild of Great Britain President Olivia Hetreed was among the delegates, and took part in panel discussions on the lack of representation of women writers and the pros and cons of co-production.

Writers’ Guild General Secretary Bernie Corbett took part in panel discussions focusing on negotiation and copyright.

The international gathering of screenwriters' guilds, unions and associations brought together the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) and the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG), of which the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is a member.

Previous World Conferences of Screenwriters have been held in Barcelona (2012) and Athens (2009). They built on successful joint initiatives including the European Screenwriters' Manifesto (2006) and an International Day of Solidarity in support of the Writers Guild of America high-profile strike in 2007/8.

Written Into the Picture, a report investigating screenwriters’ lack of visibility at film festivals, was published at the second conference in Barcelona in 2012 where it was resolved that the vital contribution of screenwriters needed to be more fully acknowledged.

“It is fantastic that writers and their guilds from many countries can gather to discuss the issues they face – and even better that WCOS is now genuinely global, with representatives from every continent,” said Writers’ Guild of Great Britain General Secretary Bernie Corbett. “TV, film and the other media are all now global – and we are also going global in our battle to preserve and improve writers’ pay, terms and rights. Power to us!”

You can read the two resolutions that were passed at the conference, plus closing remarks, here.

 

Writers' Guild Awards 2014 open for entries

on Monday, 15 September 2014 11:59. Posted in Events

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.

To make your nomination, fill in this form and e-mail it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Land of the freebie

on Friday, 12 September 2014 17:53. Posted in Guild

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.

Serfing USA 
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

Alan Ayckbourn’s play Roundelay premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

on Thursday, 04 September 2014 12:15. Posted in Theatre

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.