After WGA strike in Hollywood, Screenwriters Association Of India Seek Credit, Higher Remuneration For Its Writers

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike has garnered support from the Indian Screenwriters Association (SWA), which has asked its members to stop working on US-based films and web series. The SWA, India’s major industry guild for writers with over 57,000 members, has expressed solidarity with the WGA and is drafting a Minimum Basic Contract for its members to demand credit and better remuneration.

The WGA strike began earlier this week, with members demanding greater pay, a higher minimum wage, more writers per show, and shorter exclusive contracts. The SWA General Secretary, Zaman Habib, said that the WGA is making legitimate requests on behalf of the writers’ fraternity, and they stand in solidarity with them. The SWA is also holding talks with major Indian producers individually, as India lacks an industry-wide producers’ body such as the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to negotiate with.

The SWA is drafting a Minimum Basic Contract for its members and initiating negotiations with producers on standard clauses. Suhail Anwar, chief operating officer, SWA, says, “We need fairer contracts for writers. Credits are not guaranteed, neither are fees despite having a pay scale.”

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The SWA hopes that the WGA strike will set a precedent and help their efforts in negotiating with Indian subsidiaries of some of those companies.

Minimum Basic Contract For Writers

The Screenwriters Association (SWA) in India is drafting a Minimum Basic Contract for its members. The contract aims to demand credit and better remuneration for SWA members. The SWA is currently in the process of initiating negotiations with producers on standard clauses.

The SWA email to its members stated that the challenges faced by Indian writers are even more acute, including grossly unfair contracts, no credit guarantee, undignified low fees (especially for new writers), one-sided termination clauses, and impossible indemnity.

Zaman Habib, general secretary, SWA, says that writers here are often not acknowledged. “When a writer is successful, they can negotiate, but new writers are exploited. The MBC will assure them credit and remuneration. We have seen cases where a writer has delivered a screenplay for [as low as] Rs 50,000.”

To address the issue, the SWA will conduct a meeting with Producer’s Guild, Indian Film and Television Producers Council (IFTPC), Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), and individual producers next week. He adds, “Producers like Siddharth Roy Kapur, Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar are encouraging [of the MBC].”

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