[Press Release by AWG]

The Australian Writers’ Guild has expressed alarm at Screen Australia’s draft guidelines and the impact they will have on the future of Australia’s film industry.
One of Australia’s most successful screenwriters, Oscar nominated Jan Sardi (Shine, The Notebook, Mao’s Last Dancer) says "Far from taking the Australian film industry in a new direction, Screen Australia’s proposed guidelines spell disaster for an industry already on its knees."

If the proposed draft guidelines of Screen Australia are put into practice, future funding eligibility requirements for screenwriters will be so high they will exclude all but a handful of professional writers and force others into potentially unproductive partnerships before the first draft is even written.

Funding for first-time and emerging screenwriters will also be completely abandoned and a total disregard is shown for the basic rights of writers through the proposed early transfer of copyright without any mandated protections.

In initial consultations Screen Australia acknowledged the importance of quality scripts in the creation of outstanding films and television programs, and expressed a commitment to supporting writers with the time and money necessary to write them. Their proposed guidelines however show an abject failure to fulfill these commitments.

"Abandoning emerging screenwriters and inflicting shotgun weddings on experienced writers, directors and producers reeks of a government bureaucracy all too eager to divest itself of responsibility and accountability for where Australian taxpayers money goes – it is not the way forward," says Sardi.

Australian Writers’ Guild Executive Director, Jacqueline Woodman, says "In their eagerness to establish sustainable businesses and let the marketplace develop and promote projects, Screen Australia appears to have forgotten that before there can be a project to be developed, a script must first be written."

The Australian Writers’ Guild demands that Screen Australia respond publicly to the proposals outlined in their recent submission and intends to actively campaign against the adoption of the federal agency’s proposed guidelines that attack the status and rights of Australian screenwriters.

The Australian Writers’ Guild full submission to Screen Australia is available from www.awg.com.au.