An ongoing turf battle over film and TV scripts flared Thursday when international screenwriter guilds meeting in Toronto came out against creative rights and control of audiovisual material residing solely with directors.
Screenwriters attending the annual meeting of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds unanimously rejected the so-called Dublin Declaration issued in September by the International Association of English-Speaking Directors' Organizations, which claims the director is the primary creator of an audiovisual work.
In a Toronto Declaration, members of the writers guilds claim that an audiovisual work results from a collaborative process that starts with a screenplay.
"It is inconsistent with this process for IAESDO (the directors' organization) to claim in its 'code of practice for directors of audiovisual works' that the director is the 'primary creator' of the audiovisual work," the Toronto Declaration claims.
The IAESDO's Dublin Declaration argues that directors should be given free rein to create an audiovisual work.
"While the collaborative process is at the heart of all production, the director has the creative responsibility for the artistic integrity of the work and accordingly should be recognized as an author in all jurisdictions," the directors' guilds asserted.
Writers Guild of Canada president Pete White said the Dublin Declaration denigrated all screenwriters. "To deny that the screenwriter is the primary creator of a film or television program flies in the face of reality," he said.
The signatories of the Toronto Declaration include the Writers Guild of America, the Writers Guild of Canada, the Writers Guild of Great Britain, the Australian Writers Guild, the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild, the New Zealand Writers Guild and the Quebec Societe des Auteurs de Radio, Television et Cinema.
The IAWG membership urged the IAESDO "to clarify its position" on creative control of audiovisual works.
"The IAWG hopes that this process reflects mutual respect for the contribution of each creator to the production of the audiovisual work," the group said.
The IAESDO in September accompanied its declaration in Dublin with plans for a new affiliate organization to protect the creative and economic rights of directors.