In the UK a script fee of at least £300 per minute (£3,000+ for a 10-minute script) should be negotiated. This is the conclusion of Guild officers, writers and agents following a recent project with Guild animation writers to rewrite the Guild guidelines on animation.
Part of the research included surveying UK animation writers about the fees they earned for writing both in the UK and internationally.
Below is a snapshot of the fees paid to animation writers for a 10/11-minute script.
Countries Range (£s)
SE Asia: 800-2,250
The survey results above indicate that there is a huge variation in the fees paid to writers nationally and internationally. This can be attributed in part to the lack of collective agreements that set out minimum terms. In the absence of minima, aim for the maxima!
In the UK if a writer is contracted to write an episode, this will generally be on a buyout contract. This means the writer sells all their rights to their work with no rights to royalty or residuals payments, so the script fee is the only money the writer will earn and should be negotiated at £300+ per minute.
Colin Shaw wrote many radio plays and features, and a stage play for children. But his impact on writers’ lives was bigger than that, because from 1953-1977 he worked at the BBC, starting as a radio drama producer and going on to be Assistant Head of Programmes, North Region, and Head of Programme Planning Group, BBC Television. He ended his time at the BBC as Chief Secretary to the Board of Governors.
From 1977-83 he was Director of Television for the Independent Broadcasting Authority. From 1983-87 he was Director, Programme Planning for ITV Companies' Association. He was Founding Director of the Broadcasting Standards Council from 1988-96.
And even when he retired from such elevated positions, he carried on his work on behalf of writers as one of the chief negotiators with the BBC for the Society of Authors, co-operating closely with the Writers’ Guild, of which he was also a member.
Colin Shaw was also a Governor of the English-Speaking Union, 1977-83; a Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977-80; and in 1987 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Television Society.
Writers' Guild has vacancies for Deputy Chairs and regional representatives
Dear Guild member
Following last month’s Writers’ Guild Annual General Meeting, four vacancies remain for Officers and Executive Council members. We need to find two deputy Chairs, plus regional representatives for the East Midlands and Greater Manchester and the surrounding area.
To be eligible, you need to have been a Full Member of the Guild for at least two years continuously prior to the date on which nominations close, or else you need to be a Life Member. You also need a proposer and seconder, who must be Full Members of the Guild in good standing.
Officer vacancies will serve for a one-year term. Those elected to the other EC vacancies will serve for a three-year term.
Members of the Executive Council attend about six meetings per year at which they formulate Guild policy and take decisions about collective agreements, membership and financial matters, and other issues of importance to working writers. Members attending EC meetings can claim expenses for their travel, meals, and, if necessary, overnight accommodation.
If you are interested please click here for further details and a downloadable nomination form. Fill in the details and return the form as soon as possible to: General Secretary, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, First Floor, 134 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU. You can also apply by email to the address below.
7 August 2014
Just 11.5% of professional authors can earn a living from their writing
A new survey commissioned by the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society has found that increasingly few professional authors are able to earn a living from their writing.
The survey, What Are Words Worth Now?, of almost 2,500 working writers, was carried out by Queen Mary University of London. It found that in 2013 just 11.5% of professional authors (those who dedicate the majority of their time to writing) earned their incomes solely from writing, compared with 40% in 2005.
The typical (median) income of the professional author has also fallen dramatically, both in real and actual terms. In 2013, the median income of the professional author was just £11,000, a drop of 29% since 2005 when the figure was £12,330 (£15,450 in real terms). According to Joseph Rowntree Foundation figures, single people in the UK need to earn at least £16,850 before tax to achieve a Minimum Income Standard.
In contrast to the sharp decline in earnings of professional authors, the wealth generated by the UK creative industries is on the increase. Statistics produced by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2014 show that the creative industries are now worth £71.4 billion per year to the UK economy (over £8 million per hour) and the UK is reported as having “the largest creative sector of the European Union”, and being “the most successful exporter of cultural good and services in the world”, according to UNESCO.
Owen Atkinson, chief executive of ALCS, commented: “This rapid decline in both author incomes and in the numbers of those writing full time could have serious implications for the economic success of the creative industries in the UK. If writers are to continue making their irreplaceable contribution to the UK economy, they need to be paid fairly for their work. This means ensuring clear, fair contracts with equitable terms and a copyright regime that support creators and their ability to earn a living from their creations.”
Download a summary of the booklet
By Nick Yapp
Bill Ash was a man of great charm and humour, soft-voiced and modest, and rock solid in his integrity. His political beliefs shone through all his extraordinary wartime adventures and through all that he did for the Guild, as a member of the Executive Committee for many years and as joint-chair from 1982 to 1983 and from 1995-1996. All his life, he battled for the causes he so passionately believed in, whether he was fighting against fascism in the 1940s, or against the chairman and governors of the City of Westminster College in the mid-1990s – the latter being responsible the shameful closing of the Soho Theatre after a prolonged and bitter struggle.
Bill was an outstanding champion of the Guild, the trade union that he loved and valued so highly. He was also an inspiring advocate of the causes for which the Guild fought. On the eve of the 2000 Millennium, he described the Writers’ Guild as a 'group of highly committed writers of books, plays, film scripts, radio and television programmes willing to work together for each other’s good'.
Perhaps, at this sad time for all those who worked with Bill, and in this revolutionary time for all writers, it would be appropriate to recall other words that he wrote for the Guild magazine, the Writers’ News, some 20 years ago: 'What enables writers in Britain to face the future in a changing world with some confidence? The continued existence of their own trade union of professional writers.' The message is timeless; the writer was unique.
On a personal note, Bill’s book How to Write Radio Drama is the best book about the craft of writing that I have ever read. It ought to be compulsory reading for every producer and commissioning editor, but I bet it isn’t.
Bill Ash's funeral will take place on Friday 9 May at 11.15am at West London Crematorium, Kensal Rise, London W10 5JS. A commemorative event will be held on Friday 16 May from 5.30pm to 9pm in central London. Further details will be announced later.
Read the Guardian obituary by Guild member Brendan Foley.