Creative Rights are a bundle of rights relating to respect for the status of an artist, in this case the writer. The right to receive credit for your work, for example. The issue of credit seems obvious, however it goes wider than just ‘Written by’ or ‘Story by’. Reviewers and publicity machines still credit non-writing directors with having created characters, shaped the story or come up with witty dialogue.
Many people still don’t understand what writers actually do. For the record – we create the world of the story on a page – the director translates this world to the screen. Both jobs are equally worthy of respect. Credit, therefore, is about more than just a byline. It’s also about being appropriately attributed with the nature of the work.
Other Creative Rights include the right to be included in an on-going capacity on a production. Often a writer’s contribution ends once the script is delivered, which does not utilise their full usefulness or potential. Dialogue that worked on a page but not in real life can often easily be fixed by a writer. A story that needs to change due to casting or location alterations can be rejigged by the writer, who understands the script intimately. Directors are very often brought in during the writing process, give notes and help shape a project. So why should those same directors ban a writer from rehearsals or the set?
The Writers Guild of America have created a useful booklet called Creative Rights For Writers of Theatrical and Long-Form Television Motion Pictures. The list of rights outlined include:
- The right to meet with the Producer and Director during pre-production and production.
- The right to be listed on call sheets and staff directories or crew lists.
- The right to attend cast readings and visit the set during production (with a standard procedure to ensure appropriateness).
- The right to attend the premiere and participate in press junkets and festivals.
- The right to a copy of the work on videocassette and a copy of the final shooting script.
- The right to the first rewrite of optioned material along with a host of other rights relating to rewrites of material.
Creative Rights are about fair recognition and respect for the contribution of all creatives. As the booklet points out “the best experiences comes from projects where all participants – writers, directors, actors, producers, executives and others – respect and welcome the participation of others”.