Writers Guild reaches tentative agreement with producers

Three-year agreement is big step forward for screenwriters

For immediate release
May 11, 2006

Canadian screenwriters will take home more money and will only have to work under one collective agreement thanks to a tentative three-year deal the Writers Guild of Canada has reached with the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) and its Quebec counterpart, the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (AFTPQ).

In 2003, screenwriters were forced into separate collective agreements with the CFTPA and the APFTQ, creating two sets of rates and conditions for productions across the country.

This tentative agreement is full of good news for professional screenwriters,” says Rebecca Schechter, WGC President. “Not only have we returned to the same agreement for all writers across Canada, there are two big jurisdictional wins, and increased writing fees and insurance benefits.”

Under the Independent Production Agreement (IPA), all animation writers working for a signatory producer will now receive the protection of the collective agreement, and writing credits will be standardized.

The WGC won another jurisdictional battle by extending the IPA to cover writing for the booming digital production sector, which includes webisodes, mobisodes, and digital downloading,

In terms of increased money to screenwriters, the tentative agreement calls for producers to raise insurance contributions by 1%, which translates into approximately $1.2 million in additional benefits over the next three years.

In addition, screenwriters working on movies-of-the-week and miniseries will see their writing fees increased by 6.5% over three years. “This was a big priority for the Guild, as the current fees don’t reflect the market value of the work,” says Schechter.

The WGC also agreed to waive minimum fees on productions with budgets under $60,000 to encourage the use of professional, experienced screenwriters – which is the single best way to ensure a successful project.

Those highlights, among others, combine with an across the board increase in writer’s fees of 4% over the term of the agreement.

“We made important headway with this collective agreement,” says Maureen Parker, WGC Executive Director. “We were able to put strategies in place that will benefit screenwriters in the long-term.

“Bargaining is never easy, especially when the Canadian film and television industry is in a state of uncertainty as it is now. We are coming up to a CRTC television policy review, and we are dealing with broadcasters who are reluctant to produce and air Canadian productions, and a federal government that doesn’t have culture on its radar.”

The tentative agreement should be sent out to WGC members for ratification in the next few weeks.

The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) is the national association representing more than 1,800 screenwriters working in English-language film, television, and new media. In addition to negotiating, administering and enforcing collective agreements with independent producers and broadcasters, the WGC works with government agencies to increase the support available to professional screenwriters.

For more information please contact Barb Farwell, Director of Communications, 416-979-7907, ext. 5234 or b.farwell@wgc.ca

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