Posts Tagged screenwriter

Who are Europe’s audiovisual authors ?

Europe is in the process of changing legislation on authors’ rights / copyright in Europe. The texts refer to the need for sector specific solutions for authors in different sectors.

This is also the starting point for SAA’s infographic on audiovisual authors’ remuneration (available in English, French, German and Spanish with a video here). The infographic focuses on screenwriters and directors but, as is often the case in Europe, the situation is a little bit more complicated than that.

So who are the authors of an audiovisual work?


In the countries where SAA has members, this means that directors, screenwriters and music composers are always audiovisual authors. Given that composers have their rights managed by music societies, SAA focusses on the needs of:


But, as shown above, in some countries other contributors, e.g. the director of photography or the costume designer can be an audiovisual author too.

Together, SAA’s members manage rights for


Not only are these the people behind our favourite films, documentaries and TV series, but they are also at the source of Europe’s creativity as well as its cultural and linguistic diversity. Some examples:


See SAA’s infographic [FR, ES], and keep an eye on this blog to find out more about the working lives of audiovisual authors and the challenges they face.




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The Cross-border question – financing, exploiting & remunerating

Last year I wrote in the German press about the frustration of seeing unlicensed copies of my work freely available and easy to find on the internet and the absence of legal services delivering the full range of European films I would expect.  I wanted to be provocative to strike the contrast between my expectations and the market delivery, but I also wanted to show that there are possible solutions.  I suggested creating compulsory licences for European audiovisual works. A little bit like the radio where any works can be used but where remuneration is due to the authors and other rightholders.

One of the most frustrating things for screenwriters like me is to talk to someone about a film I helped make and for that person to discover that they are unable to watch it legally.

And I am a lucky author, my film Sophie Scholl was sold to many territories and is generally available.  My next film, Elser, has already sold around the world.  Other films I have worked on have not been so lucky.  I very much understand the frustrations of film fans who can’t find the films they have heard about.

But I also have another hat, that of a film producer.

The reality is that the climate for the financing of European works is very difficult and very modest productions often involve a number of different investors from different countries.  My authors’ rights in the script I write are for the world.  But as a producer I know that very often the only way to finance the actual production means selling off bits of those rights to different investors, sometimes territory by territory.  Any push for pan-European licences cannot ignore this point: if it deprives us from possible investors, European production and distribution will suffer very much.

If I put my author’s hat back on, I think we also need to look at the problem from another angle. If we want works to be available cross-borders then we also need to guarantee authors – screenwriters and directors – that their remuneration for the use of their films will flow back to them.  At the moment, for a variety of reasons, this doesn’t really happen.

If our creative works are to be available across-borders then our remuneration should also flow across borders. We therefore need EU new remuneration mechanisms that associate authors’ remuneration to the exploitation of their works.

Fred Breinersdorfer

Screenwriter, producer and SAA patron

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Travelling and Terraferma – The film-makers invite Emanuele Crialese

L-R: Jean-Jacques Beineix, Emanuele Crialese, Cécile Despringre

Emanuele Crialese presented his film ahead of the discussion moderated by Jean-Jacques Beineix and Cécile Despringre

Tuesday 13th March saw SAA partner with the SACD and the French association of authors, directors and producers, L’ARP, for the second edition of “Les cinéastes invitent … L’ami Européen”.  After hearing Norwegian screenwriter and director Joachim Trier present Oslo, 31st August at the 1st edition, this time the packed audience at the Cinéma des Cinéastes headed to the southern limits of Europe as Italian director Emanuele Crialese presented his latest film Terraferma ahead of its French release.

Following the film I joined French Director Jean-Jacques Beineix and some of the cast on stage with Mr Crialese to talk about the film, Europe and a bit of politics.

This is the second film that Crialese has done on a Sicilian island, and also the second film he has done on the issue of immigration – a term whose modern use he rejects, finding it too savage.  In between his two island films, the Island (and its fisherman) which inspired and hosted Respiro, Lampedusa, faced tourism and refugees on its beaches.

Crialese is very much a man out there doing his own thing. Despite the very political topic of the film, he does not like doing politics. He publicly admitted not being actively involved in professional organisations, preferring much more to do what he can on his own terms.  The same very much applies to his directorial style as he lets his emotions guide his judgement (from the choice of the lead actor to how one of the most emotional scenes in the film was caught almost by chance and before the proper lighting had been set up – there’s only one take and it’s in the film).  He did however recognise how lucky he was to have met producers that believe in him and his artistic vision and choices and provide the support he needs (he had full creative control over the film, right down to the poster, for example). 

Speaking of Europe, he was effusive with his gratitude to the French audiences that have given him a freedom in his career that he might otherwise not have been afforded (his first feature film Respiro was a relatively big success in France despite a poor reception back home in Italy). This has meant that he is very used to Franco-Italian co-productions.

A fascinating evening, and a film which demonstrated, as CNC director Eric Garandeau rightly pointed out, how a film can be so much better than a speech.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out more details on the next guest in the “Les cinéastes invitent …l’ami Européen” series.

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We Need to Talk About the Audiovisual Sector

Jean-Marie Cavada, MEP (France, EPP) rapporteur for the non-legislative report of the European Parliament on the online distribution of audiovisual works, organised a workshop on 27 February to discuss the issues with a panel of stakeholders representing authors, performers, producers and broadcasters[1]. I was therefore seated on stage among them to present SAA’s proposal for the remuneration of audiovisual authors for the online distribution of their works.

After the workshop, I came to a very sad conclusion: it takes events like this to get the different actors in the audiovisual sector in a room together and talking to each other!

Since the publication of SAA’s White Paper on the Audiovisual Authors’ Rights and Remuneration in Europe last year, we have invited our industry partners to discuss our proposal. Most of them responded positively and we were able to develop a dialogue on the industry needs and opportunities in the digital era. However, without our initiative, such a dialogue would not exist. Some organisations are still reluctant to accept it.

There is no organised dialogue at European level between the different stakeholders of the audiovisual sector, in particular on copyright issues. A social dialogue exists between employers and employees, but the authors, a free-lance community for most of them, do not fit into this.

The sector is facing tremendous challenges, such as:

  • how to seize the digital opportunities to better organise the sector (identification of works, tracking of uses, automated process of reporting) and the relationships between the creators, producers, distributors, broadcasters, new platforms,
  • how to adapt to the internationalization of distribution of audiovisual works,
  • how to maintain existing financing and develop new sources of income,
  • how to enhance the financial return of copyright to the creators,
  • how to value copyright in this sector, etc.

These need industry responses and proposals for the European legislator who wants to build the digital single market.

If the audiovisual sector is unable to hold a dialogue between its different components to prepare and adapt to the future, there is a risk that the legislator will impose its own perspective. In the copyright field, taking into account the political pressure from internet users challenging the value of copyright due in part to the perceived lack of benefits for creators, the risk is very high for the whole sector. It is therefore time for the audiovisual sector to accept a rebalance of copyright in favour of creators in the digital environment for the sake of the whole system.

Writing this has given me renewed motivation to try and create such a dialogue – please consider this an open invitation. If we can’t work something out together though, let’s hope that the European Commission and Parliament will seize this opportunity to organise this.

[1] Nicola Frank, EBU Head of Brussels Office, Ted Shapiro, MPA Deputy Managing Director, Vice-President and General Council – Europe, Ross Biggam, ACT Director General, Isabelle Feldman, ADAMI International and Legal Affairs Director, William Bush, Premier League Director of Communications and Public Policy and Cécile Despringre, SAA Executive Director.

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