Aspiring to be a screenwriter?

Why You Should Enroll Yourself in Screen Writer’s Association?

A Trade Union in India, the Screenwriter’s Association (SWA), comprises screenwriters and lyricists. They work for films, TV, and digital media. Authors, novelists, playwrights, and journalists keen to be a part of movies must register to SWA. TV, or digital entertainment, are also members of the SWA. This autonomous organization aims to nurture a feeling of fraternity and unity among its members. It ensures professional conduct and integrity. It is also concerned with organizing seminars and workshops for writers. Here they can enjoy immense learning opportunities in script-writing, lyrics-writing, etc.

Here’s attempting to answer some of the common queries you might have in your mind about the SWA:

Is It Compulsory For A Writer to Register at the SWA if I Aspire To Be a Professional Screenwriter?

No, you are not required to have an SWA registration mandatorily. Registering to SWA is advisable for venturing into films or digital media. It is considered more professional. Also, if you ever have any issue or conflict with fellow writers, producers, or directors, having registered with the SWA will prove to be of significant help. One of the main objectives of this organization is to safeguard the rights and interests of all its members.

What are the things I can get registered with the SWA?

Why an aspiring writer must register with screen writer's association
via Typewriters

You can register lyrics, concept, synopsis, story, screenplay, dialogues, etc., simply by logging into your account.

What Are the Things I Can Get Registered With the SWA?

As a member of the SWA, if you can furnish adequate proof concerning the infringement/theft of your work, then the Dispute Settlement Committee of SWA will indeed offer assistance. In this regard, please note that we should register the work in the question with the SWA. Only then can they provide legal help/consultancy if any matter related to your professional sphere arises.

What Is the Standard Remuneration for a New Writer?

Going by the thumb rule, the screenwriter fee comprises 2-5% of the total production budget. However, this is subject to negotiations between the producer and the writer. The SWA is taking steps to ascertain a standard minimum wage. They are doing this through the proposed Model contract with producers’ bodies.

SWA helps in determining the Standard remuneration of screenwriter
via Unsplash

What Fundamental Rights Does a Writer Have?

A writer’s fundamental rights include a fair contract, decent remuneration according to industry standards. It also includes freedom of speech (to be exercised responsibly), due respect and recognition, and appropriate royalties.

If a Producer, Director, or a Production House Hires Me To Develop an Idea Provided By Them, Who Does the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Belong To?

At present, the Indian film industry functions based on ‘work for hire’ contracts wherein the producer is the employer. It sees the writer as the employee. Given this arrangement, the IPR belongs to the producer once the writer completes all the deliverables. Ideally, however, one should follow the ‘lease and license’ scenario. According to this, writers should charge a fee from producers to use their work in a film that will eventually have a theatrical release. SWA helps in these cases.

SWA guides you regarding the fundamental rights of a writer
via Unsplash

SEE ALSO: Why Grammarly Is Your Savior?

According to the new Copyrights Act (2012), writers have the first right to their work. The writer will become eligible for royalties if it generates any revenue from their job following the theatrical release. However, the producers’ lobby has raised objections against this Act.

What Is Screen Credit? When Can I Determine What Screen Credit I Should Get?

The titles that appear on the screen when the film/show is the screen credits. Your contract should mention the credits you will get and the order in which they will appear. You can also consider incorporating specific clauses about marketing-related credits (such as posters, hoardings, other publicity) in your contract after negotiating about the same.

What if a Producer Decides To Terminate an Agreement at Some Stage of Development? What Are My Rights and Dues in That Case?

Your contract will solely determine this since it should have specific clauses regarding the termination of an agreement.

Registration to SWA would help the writers to know about their rights.
via Unsplash

Is It Necessary For the Producer or Production House I Am Working With, To Be Associated With the Producer’s Association?

Though it is not a must, in case of any dispute or even otherwise, registration with an Association makes a producer far more accountable.

How Can I Ensure Signing the Right Contract With a Producer Who Wishes To Employ Me To Write For Him?

When it comes to your contract, you should be very cautious and vigilant. Make sure you consult a reliable and experienced lawyer before signing any agreement with the producer. You should follow legal consultation and negotiation with your employer. After that, you can prepare your version of a contract with the help of SWA.

You can further go through the SWA website in detail to find out more information. Whether writing for films, TV serials, telefilms, etc., you should know how much you should charge. Staying informed is always a good idea if you want to foray into the industry. It will help you remain focused. Also, note that the role of the SWA also encompasses addressing and resolving disputes between members and producer bodies related to a host of issues such as contractual obligations, copyright infringement, the confutation of credits and remuneration, etc.

Find out the registration procedure, follow the steps, and abide by the terms and conditions to become a registered SWA member.

It will make a considerable difference to your career in the long run. It will help you stay ahead in the game!

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