From the horse’s mouth – Screenwriters and Directors telling their own story

On 22nd February we met Vice President Kroes of the European Commission who is in charge of everything digital there.  We had a very distinguished group of screenwriters and directors with us – Robert Alberdignk Thijm, Fred Breinersdorfer, Bertrand Tavernier and Susanna White.

Beforehand we held a short pre-meeting to prepare our key messages.  A lot has been made recently of the power of big lobbying groups but our pre-meeting just went to show how the decisions that can take place at European level are important for those individual, essentially freelance creators at the root of the film sector. Hearing an author tell you about the massive budget they managed on their last film, how they worked the hours of an investment banker, managing a team of hundreds and to make a film that was successful worldwide and then hearing that their contract entitled them to nothing from that success never stops being galling and reminding me of why our work is so important. Hearing how a director didn’t get paid until the end of shooting, or how personal financial guarantees (of very significant amounts of money) were required to get a project of the floor just show you to what lengths an author will go to achieve their artistic vision. There are not enough women in the sector, but the lack of real support structures that can provide for maternity leave are dissuasive.  These are all truths of our sector outside of the legal jargon and debates around copyright that dominate in Brussels. Authors will always need partners to make their films.  Producers are vital partners and all of the authors present agreed as much.  The industry needs to get rid of some of the skeletons in its closet, but authors also need legislative help. These authors love what they do (often against all logic and certainly to the detriment of their bank balance) and they need support to be able to continue.  It is their creativity that not only entertains but inspires.  Let us help them inspire us more. CD