Oscar-nominated scripts online

Want to read the scripts written by the nominees for the 2010 Best Screenplay Oscar and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar?

Thanks to Raindance.org you can access of all of them online!

Australian collection agency row

Tensions occasionally occur between agencies tasked to collect money for the use of copyrighted work and the artists they represent based on the manner in which these monies are distributed, and the cut the agencies allocate to themselves.

A major row on this delicate matter has erupted in Australia, according to a report in The Australian.

The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), founded in 1989, is the Australian agency that collects money from institutions using copyrighted works. The newspaper alleged that CAL had paid itself more in salaries than it allocated to its authors and artists.

But the collection agency last year paid $9.4 million in salaries, compared with a $9.1m direct allocation for authors and artists.

Among the highest paid at CAL was its chief executive Jim Alexander, who earned more than $350,000 last year, while another senior staff member earned between $250,000 and $299,000, another between $200,000 and 249,000, and five others between $150,000 and $199,000. A further 21 staff earned between $100,000 and $149,000.

In addition, the agency spent more than $300,000 on travel for its top executives, including a trip for its three senior executives to an International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations conference in Barbados, and a trip for four employees and board members to the Beijing Writers Festival.

CAL responded angrily to the accusation with a rebuttal on its web site.

While it is true that only $9.1 million was paid directly to authors and artists, a further $75.9 million was paid to Australian publishers and then redistributed by publisher members to authors and artists under private contractual arrangements.  Indeed of the $114 million collected in 2008/9, 86% was paid to rightsholders.

As former ASA Executive Director Jeremy Fisher points out in the article, this system of direct and indirect payment is relatively opaque, and has the potential to lead to disputes between authors and publishers. That is why CAL is in the process of implementing a new distribution system, CALdirect, under which authors and publishers will be paid directly on the terms agreed privately between them. This system, which is specifically designed to allow authors and publishers the flexibility to implement individual agreements on a title-by-title basis, is a world first and places CAL at forefront of collecting agencies worldwide.

The article also suggests that CAL’s expenditure on salaries is disproportionately high. In fact CAL’s total operations budget in 2008/9 was $15.6 million, or 13.7% of total revenue. This marked a decrease in both real and percentage terms on the 2007/8 figure of $17.4 million, itself a decrease on the 2006/7 figure of $18.1 million, results achieved in the context of significant investment in developing CALdirect.

So the matter is not as straightforward as The Australian‘s article implies. However, I suspect most Australian writers would be delighted if their salaries were even a quarter of what the senior executives in CAL earn.

Tour schedule reminder

Just a reminder to participants of the World Conference of Screenwriters to meet outside the Titania Hotel today at 4.30pm sharp.

Buses will take you to a short excursion at the Acropolis and the Parthenon, followed by a special tour and reception at the New Acropolis Museum. Further details are available on the social events section.

Please be considerate of your colleagues and the deadlines involved, and arrive on time.

This is one event for which you don’t want to miss the bus!

Participant profile: Marcílio Moraes

We’re just in time to meet with Brazilian writer Marcílio Moraes.

Marcilio Moraes

Marcilio Moraes

Marcílio was born in Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and writes short stories, novels and screenplays for television.

He has written for famous Brazilian soap operas (known as telenovels) like Roque Santeiro, Noivas de Copabacana, Mandala, and Roda de Fogo among others.

Recently he has written for the television series Vidas Opostas (2006 – 2007) and the sixteen-episode crime drama Lei e o Crime (2009).

He is also the President of the Associação dos Roteiristas (Screen Writers Guild).

Registration open

RegistrationRegistration for the World Conference of Screenwriters is now open in the lobby of the Titania Hotel. The desk will staffed all day, as well as tomorrow morning, before moving to the conference venue itself.

Come along, introduce yourself, pick up your badge and information for the conference, and meet some of the organising team.

Participant profile: Eylem Kaftan

It’s over to Turkey now to meet screenwriter Eylem Kaftan.

Eylem Kaftan

Eylem Kaftan

Eylem was born in Turkey, she completed a B.A. in Philosophy at Bogazici University in Istanbul and a Masters degree in Cinema at York University in 2002. At York University, she worked as a teaching assistant and wrote her thesis on the identity crisis in post-1980 Turkish cinema.

Her first short fiction film called ‘A Swan Story’ was featured at the International Women’s Film Festival in Ankara in 1999. Her first documentary, Faultlines (2002), investigates the aftermath of the earthquake which hit Turkey in 1999. It won Best Short Film and the Jury Prize at the Planet Indie Film Festival in Toronto in that year.

Eylem then wrote and directed Vendetta Song (2005) produced with  DLI Productions in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada. This gripping hour long documentary about her personal journey into the honour-killing of her aunt in a small Kurdish village in Turkey was broadcast on Vision TV and Télé-Québec in Canada and has received several awards including CIDA Prize for Best Canadian Documentary on International Development at Hot Docs; the Quebec Film Critics Association Award for Best Medium Length Documentary; Best Documentary, Calgary International festival and Best Documentary, Female Eye Film Festival. The film also won the 3rd prize at the International Women’s film festival in Torino, Italy.

Her third documentary Bledi, This is Our Home (2006) tells the story of the non-status Algerians and their struggle to remain in Canada. The film is made for the Quebec broadcaster Télé-Québec and premiered at the International documentary festival in Istanbul.

Eylem has contributed to several documentaries on social and political issues ranging from immigration and women’s rights to mental illness and culture shock. She also collaborated on the award winning short fiction films of Turtle Productions. Eylem is presently working on her new documentary on Kurdish youth and developing a script for a feature length fiction film called My Secret Heart.

Participants listed

I’ve added a list of all the participants who will be attending the conference. This is our most up-to-date information, but doesn’t factor in any last minute cancellations.

It should give you a good sense of the stellar line-up of international screenwriters who will be attending.