The SAA was created in 2010 by 9 collective management organisations, with the support of the European screenwriters and directors whose rights they manage. Ten years later, the SAA has grown to 33 CMO members and is backed by a board of Patrons of 34 prominent filmmakers from different countries and working experiences.
SAA’s Patrons are instrumental to the achievements of the SAA, without them its success wouldn’t have been possible. Filmmakers need collective management organisations to defend their right to royalties and enforce it, and the collective societies need them to back up their advocacy efforts by giving evidence on the actual situation of authors in the audiovisual industry and their expectations for a change. These are three ways the SAA’s Patrons support our work:
1. Sharing their first-hand experiences with EU decision-makers
The first time was in 2010, when a delegation of the SAA Patrons, together with Cécile Despringre, SAA’s Executive Director, and member CEOs met Michel Barnier, (at that time) the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. They brought to the table their first-hand experiences about the challenges audiovisual authors face in Europe. Among the authors were Costa-Gavras, a long-time committed filmmaker who explained the need for a harmonised system of distribution to allow European films to be shown in every European country and Fred Breinersdorfer who pointed out that the Internet is the future and that a system must be put in place to get paid for the online exploitation of works. In 2018, SAA Patrons met Mariya Gabriel, (at that time) Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, to hand-over a petition signed by more than 21,000 supporters of Europe’s filmmakers’ right to remuneration. Costa-Gavras was still on the front line, together with Jochen Greve, a German screenwriter. In between these two meetings, the SAA and its Patrons met six other Commissioners (Androulla Vassiliou, Education and Culture 2011, Vice-President Neelie Kroes, Digital Agenda, 2012, Karel De Gucht, Trade, 2013, Günther Oettinger, Digital Economy and Society, 2015, Tibor Navrascisc, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, 2015 and Andrus Ansip, Digital Single Market, 2015), as well as their cabinet members and Members of the European Parliament.
2. Signing open letters and petition for authors’ rights
SAA Patrons and other filmmakers backed up the SAA’s advocacy work at numerous occasions by participating to events and signing appeals to decision-makers, to mention two examples: In April 2017, 36 authors signed an open letter to the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, urging them to adopt amendments to the Copyright Directive in favour of audiovisual authors’ right to proportionate remuneration. Among the signatories were the SAA Patrons’ Dardenne Brothers, Cédric Klapisch and Diana Redmond. This initial call was turned into an online petition which received the support of more than 21,000 signatures in 2018. SAA Patrons gave their testimonies to the campaign that was shared in several languages. In March 2019, 400 filmmakers and other European creators signed another open letter to Members of the European Parliament to adopt the Copyright Directive.
3. Putting EU politics in the spotlight at film festivals
In addition to the official launch of the SAA in Brussels with the participation of Marco Tullio Giordana and Roger Michell, a launch event was organised at the Cannes film festival in 2010 with Costa-Gavras and Fred Breinersdorfer at the invitation of SACD, one of the founding member. In 2013, SAA Patrons and other filmmakers mobilised and sent the message that culture should be a non-negotiable exception in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. Last couple of years, filmmakers have taken the occasion of Cannes (2017), Berlinale (2017) and Venice film festival (2018) to amplify their voices in support of the EU Copyright Directive. At the last Cannes Film Festival, they also called European citizens to got to vote for the European elections.
Filmmakers’ active role and engagement to enforce their authors’ rights has not gone unnoticed. On 16 October 2019, the SAA Patron Julie Bertuccelli was awarded by Jia Zhang-ke, the Chinese filmmaker and vice-President of CISAC, on behalf of the European filmmakers and their representative organisations who fought hard to include the principle of fair and proportionate remuneration in the Directive.
The SAA has made several video interviews with its Patrons at the time when the SAA launched its White Paper in 2011 and its updated version in 2015. Over the years, the message unfortunately remains equally relevant. Eight years ago, Susanna White spoke about the digital age and the need for creators to be economically incentivised, to ensure that they do not leave Europe. Still today her message remains true: many authors do not get fairly remunerated, especially not for the success of their works on video-on-demand platforms. We are hopeful though that a decade-long effort to get the Copyright Directive adopted, will bear fruit after being well implemented by EU Member States.