Thursday 29 November 2007

Video for Day of Support

A strong turn-out of members from the Guild demonstrated in Dublin yesterday as part of the International Day of Support for the WGA strike in the USA. Videos from other countries that participated in the rally can also be viewed at the Day of Support on YouTube. Many thanks to Alessandro Molatore for his sterling work putting the video together.

Public Lending Rights

According to the Irish Writers Union the long-awaited Public Lending Right (PLR) scheme has finally come into effect.

Until yesterday, Irish writers have never been paid for the lending of their works via the Irish public library system. The EU ruled that Ireland failed to comply with a 1992 directive on the matter, and in September the Copyright and Related Rights (Amendment) Bill 2007 was passed in the Seanad.

Irish writers can now expect a regular modest payment for when their books are borrowed from Irish libraries.

Tuesday 27 November 2007


Tomorrow's schedule for our Day of Support for the WGA's strike in the USA is as follows:

Meet at the Guild building (Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2). We'll supply the WGA t-shirts, and placards like they've got on YouTube. You can even make your own. A sample slogan is: "They wrong, We write".

Once we're kitted out we'll travel to outside Twentieth Century Fox for a short demonstration, and then onto Sony Pictures.

Please turn up and show your solidarity with our fellow writers in the USA. They have put their careers and incomes on the line to highlight their essential contribution to the film industry, and to request proper remuneration for their creative talent. This is a struggle that writers across the globe can appreciate.

4.30pm - 5pm
The Guild's End of Year Drinks (with sausages on sticks for those who haven't eaten since lunchtime) at the IFI. Picketing is thirsty work.

Looking forward to seeing you all in good cheer!

HighTide Needs Plays

The HighTide Festival (2-5 May 2008) is looking for new work for its playwriting competition.

Writers may submit one unproduced, unpublished full-length play (no longer than 90 minutes) before 4 January 2008. Selected writers will receive £3000 in respect of a one-year exclusive option for HighTide Festival Productions Ltd to produce the play at the Festival and beyond. All applicants must be resident in the UK or Ireland. Details about how to submit are on the web site.

Monday 26 November 2007

Writing for Video Games

The Digital Media Forum is organising a workshop to examine the increasing importance of narrative for the success of computer and console games, and it will look at what skills are required for writing for games.

Guest speaker Guy Miller is an artist, writer and game designer. Credited with writing the storyline for the original Tomb Raider game (his minuscule footnote in gaming history is coming up with the name ‘Lara’), he has become renowned in the gaming industry. He also co-designed and directed the notorious ShadowMan games, and was Creative Director for EA’'s Harry Potter series.

The seminar will take place on Wednesday 28th November, at Filmbase on Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, from 6:30 - 8:30pm. Admission is free, but registration is required as space is limited. Please phone the Digital Media Forum on +353-1-4893604 to book your spot.


The WGA has been uploading a series of clever videos, featuring Hollywood actors, to highlight the strike called Speechless. So far twelve of them have been aired, and this is the first one. The WGA now has a web site entitled Speechless Without Writers, which is devoted to the campaign.

Call for European TV

According to The Hollywood Reporter the German foreign minister and vice-chancellor Franz-Walter Steinmeier, called for a new pan-European television agenda at the recent European Television Dialogue in Berlin.

"It can no longer be taken for granted European lifestyle or European political views will be considered desirable and worthy of imitation" in this new global world, Steinmeier said, making it all the more important for European media makers to talk to one another.

"Sometimes I think we know more about the territory on the moon than about (fellow European) media territories," he said, adding that Western countries were particularly ignorant about developments in Eastern Europe.

But Steinmeier said Western Europe had a role to play in ensuring that the traditions of media independence and press freedom were extended to the countries of the former Eastern Bloc.

Steinmeier's colleague, former German finance minister Wolfgang Clement, went one step further. In a keynote address titled "Vision of a European Television," Clement called on European public broadcasters to join together to create a truly European channel "available in all households in all countries across the (European) Union."

Clement also struck a protectionist note, demanding new laws to cap non-EU ownership of media companies at 25%. Clement said the move was necessary to maintain a true European media culture.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Who's On The Line

A simple and effective film that shows the hard realities of being a jobbing screenwriter in the USA.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Sex in Irish Films

Award-winning Irish screenwriter and actor Mark O'Halloran joins Film Ireland magazine as guest editor for the January-February 2008 issue. Mark's films include Adam and Paul, and Garage, which is still on release in cinemas, and the critically-acclaimed television series Prosperity. Mark is the first of a series of Irish film industry guest editors who will be editing upcoming issues of Film Ireland.

The next issue of Film Ireland will be devoted exclusively to the topic of sex in Irish cinema. Mark says: "A serious examination of the whole issue of sex in Irish cinema and television has been largely overlooked by the media. I was very interested in asking some questions about representations of sex, nudity and related themes in Irish film, because it has always seemed to me that we're a bit shy about that in this country. It's also a topic which lets us discuss serious issues like sexuality and censorship, but also to get playful and ask people who their Irish sex fantasy would be and to look at the myths around Irish porn".

In conjunction with the publication of the issue, Film Ireland is also running an online survey of Irish attitudes to sex on screen. With a mix of serious and playful questions the survey hopes to capture a snapshot of opinion on the subject from the effectiveness of the TV watershed, to pornography, to the quality of sex scenes in Irish film.

The survey is anonymous and can be accessed from the Filmbase web site.

Day of Support

Wednesday the 28th of November has been designated the international Day of Support for the WGA strike.

Irish writers can demonstrate their solidarity with the WGA by arriving at the Guild office at Art House, Curved Street, Temple Bar in Dublin on Wednesday 28th November at 3.00 pm.

We'll have t-shirts, placards, a photographer, and a videographer, and with colleagues in Sydney, Auckland, Paris, Mexico City, London, Brussels, Berlin, Toronto, Montreal, we will demonstrating world-wide support for the writers' strike in the USA.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Filmbase Shorts 07

Three winners of the second round of the 2007 Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Awards have been announced. The three scripts were selected from over 130 projects:

Nightclubbing: Carol Murphy (writer/director) & Jennifer Sabbah (producer)
O Blessed Water: Morgan Bushe (writer/director) & Conor Barry (producer)
Tart: Martín de Barra (writer/director) & Steven Davenport (producer)

The closing date for the next round for the Filmbase/RTÉ Short Film Awards is 5pm Friday 25th January 2008.

Short Films Session

Filmbase is hosting an information session on short film schemes application and selection procedures in Ireland. The panel includes Fran Keaveney from the Irish Film Board, Seamus Duggan representing RTÉ and Alan Fitzpatrick from Filmbase. Maeve Joyce from the Galway Film Centre and Chris Hurley from the Cork Film Centre will also be in attendance to take specific questions on their respective schemes. The session will take place on Tuesday 27th November at Filmbase from 1:30 - 4:30pm.

This information session is aimed at writers, producers and directors interested in submitting projects to the major Irish short film schemes. The schemes covered will include the new Film Board shorts schemes Signatures, Reality Bites, Short Shorts and Frameworks, along with the Filmbase, Galway Film Centre and Cork Film Centre short schemes with RTÉ and the Irish language Lasair scheme run by Filmbase and TG4.

The session will cover the requirements for each of the schemes. The guidelines and application procedures for each of the schemes will also be covered. In addition, common mistakes in applications and approaches to presentation will be highlighted. The session will also cover an overview of information required from shortlisted applications, and will again review common mistakes made at this stage of the process.

Requirements for project delivery, including all relevant paperwork, will be discussed and samples issued. There will also be time for detailed audience questions on any aspect of the short film schemes.

The seminar is free, but places should be reserved in advance. Please contact Clare Creely, Project & Administration Officer at Filmbase to book a place. Clare can be contacted at or on 01-6796716.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

WGGB Awards 07

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain handed out its annual awards on Sunday night. Here are the winners:

Best Videogame Script: Dan Houser and Jacob Krarup - Canis Canem Edit
Best Radio Play: Steve Gooch - McNaughton
Best Original Drama (TV): Neil McKay - See No Evil: The Moors Murders
Best Soap / Series (TV): Chris Chibnall, Paul Cornell, Russell T. Davies, Stephen Greenhorn, Steven Moffat, Helen Raynor and Gareth Roberts - Doctor Who, Series 3
Best Comedy / Light Entertainment (TV): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche - The Thick of It
Best Play (Theatre): Gregory Burke - Black Watch
Best Screenplay (Feature Film): Shane Meadows - This Is England
Other awards presented:
Outstanding Contribution to Children's Writing - J.K. Rowling
A Special Award from the Writers' Guild's Books Committee - Alan Brownjohn
The Edinburgh International Film Festival 2007, Best Screenplay Award, presented by the Writers' Guild and The List - Matt Greenhalgh (Control)
A Lifetime Achievement Award - Alan Plater

Monday 19 November 2007

Irish Off-Broadway

The New York Times features an article about Irish playwright, Abbie Spallen, and her forthcoming off-Broadway play, Pumpgirl.

Werner Discusses Film

The Times has an interesting interview with German writer/director Werner Herzog, about his latest film, Rescue Dawn, and his intense approach to filmmaking.

Friday 16 November 2007

Time to Write for Theatre

Charles Isherwood at the New York Times suggests that the striking TV writers in the USA should consider writing plays. His piece highlights how many popular TV writers began their careers as playwrights, and he suggests that now is the time for those writers to remember their roots and the benefits of writing for theatre.

There remains an intense hunger for new American voices in the theater. And I am sure that there are any number of comfortable but secretly discontented writers for television and movies who have a slush pile of abandoned ideas for plays sitting in a drawer, or on the hard drive of an old computer. The road back may be rough, but one of you might turn out to be the Bright New Hope of the American Theater.

Thursday 15 November 2007

History of the WGA

Phil Alden Robinson, screenwriter (Field of Dreams, Sneakers) and WGA Board Member, recounts the turning points in the Guild's history, leading up to the current strike. It illuminates the constant battle screenwriters have fought for compensation for their work.

A new factor about this strike is the WGA and writers are churning out a lot of videos. Maybe we'll see a new generation of writer-directors as a result.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Catalyst 07 Picks Three

The Irish Film Board has announced the three finalists in the Catalystproject:

The successful teams are REDUX written and to be to be directed by PJ Dillon and produced by Alex Jones and John Wallace; ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS written and to be directed by Conor Horgan and produced by Louise Curran; and EAMON written and to be directed by Margaret Corkery and produced by Seamus Byrne. The three successful teams will get a €250,000 funding award. Each of the films are intended to be released theatrically in cinemas across Ireland and screened on TV3.

ONE HUNDRED MORNINGS is set in a remote rural hideaway, where two warring couples try to survive a world-changing threat. Director, Horgan previously directed the multi-award winning short film The Last Time aswell as a number of documentaries and over 70 commercials. Curran currently works for Octagon Films and her credits include Dorothy Mills, My Boy Jack and The Tudors.

Set in rural Ireland REDUX tells the story of a young wife and mother who becomes unsettled when a series of strange, unexplained events lead to the appearance of Karl, a friend from her past. PJ Dillon's credits include Kings, 32A and Timbuktu as Director of Photography credits. He has also directed three shorts and a number of commercials. Jones is a 2nd AD whose credits include Dorothy Mills and Rough Diamond. Wallace has produced TV show Standup for Childline and a number of short films including the multi-award wining film Jelly Belly.

The third project EAMON is a dark satirical family drama where a family go on a holiday to escape their problems. However, a week of relaxation becomes a fight for physical and emotional survival. Cork based director Corkery's low budget short films have screened at several major film festivals around the world including Berlin, Edinburgh and Clermont Ferrand. Producer Seamus Byrne has a vast experience in film working with directors such as John Boorman, John Huston, Robert Altman, Ron Howard and Neil Jordan.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Why We Fight

The second video of the day is a straightforward examination of the issues behind the WGA strike, and why it is vital for American screenwriters to stand firm on their requests.

Voices of Uncertainty

I've noticed a lot of spin emerging about the WGA writers' strike, which is trying to paint the entertainment industry as broke and not making any money from "new media" (in Ireland that's known as the poor mouth gambit). Yet, as this video proves, this is not what the owners of the biggest media conglomerates in the world say when they're talking to people other than writers.

Monday 12 November 2007

O'Flanagan wins Bursary

IFTN reports that Irish screenwriter Mary Kate O'Flanagan has won the European Alliance for Television and Culture (EATC) Bursary Award. Tyrone Productions has optioned the idea for development.

Mary Kate's winning entry is a pilot of a detective series, featuring a young Chinese woman becoming a recruit in the Garda Siochana (the Irish police force). The story is inspired by the new Garda policy of recruiting from ethnic minorities.

Mary Kate O'Flanagan said: 'Like a lot of Irish people I've been an immigrant and find the collision of cultures a fascinating place to explore what makes us all individuals and what we have in common. And I think every one loves a good detective story.'

The award includes trips to Berlin and Geneva to workshop the idea with internationally renowned tutors. This will be the screenwriter's first foray into writing for television. She previously attended the television writing course run by FAS/Screen Training Ireland.

Broadway on Strike

Strike fever is hitting America. According to the BBC theatre stagehands are on strike on Broadway, New York, and have shut down over twenty plays and musicals. It's happening at the run-up to Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year for the industry.

The dispute has largely been over work rules that govern how many stagehands must be called for work, how long they work, and what kind of tasks they can perform.

The League of American Theatres and Producers wants more flexibility in those rules so as to avoid paying for workers who have nothing to do.

"Our goal is simple - to pay for workers we need and for work that is actually performed," Charlotte St Martin, executive director of the league said.

But the union says theatre owners have been unclear about what offsetting benefits stagehands can have in return.

Actor Patrick Page, star of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, said he supported the strike but hoped for an early settlement:

"These guys on strike over here are the backbone of Broadway. They are the guys who keep me safe, when I get hoisted up in the air in the show, they are the guys who put light on me, who make sure everything happens."

"I know that the Actors Equity Association really supports the guys at Local One, I am a member of the union and we all just want the shows to happen again," he said.

Saturday 10 November 2007

RIP Norman Mailer

According to the BBC the novelist, screenwriter, and playwright Norman Mailer has died of renal failure at the age of 84.

He once said: "With the pride of the artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists the small trumpet of your defiance."

Friday 9 November 2007

Council Seeks Funding

The Stage reports that the Irish Arts Council is seeking a €20m increase in funding next year, which will bring its annual state grant to €100m.

A total of 77 arts groups have submitted ambitious plans that would involve funding of almost €40m, but IAC director Mary Cloake said the council could use double the €20m increase it is seeking. "The taxpayer can be very confident the additional money will be very well spent," she said.

Among the projects seeking funding is Wexford Festival Opera spring season, plus resident dance and stage companies at its new Theatre Royal building. In addition, the council has to provide €10m for the Abbey Theatre as part of a special three-year funding arrangement.

The IAC presented its case for an increase at a briefing in Dublin this week, in advance of next month’s budget announcement by finance minister Brian Cowen. But the minister has warned already that, as the once-booming Irish economy slows, the government will have less money to spend.

At the briefing, IAC chairwoman Olive Braiden acknowledged the changed economic circumstances but said: "While public spending cuts may be necessary, it’s not an advisable approach for the arts, as the sector is so dependent on people, and needs increased current funding to fully find its feet at a sustainable level".

Thursday 8 November 2007

Foy Wins Horror Prize

IFTN reports that Ciarn Foy's short film, "The Faeries of Blackheath Woods", won the Best Horror award at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival, which took place on the 2nd and 3rd November in Melbourne, Florida.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

ZeBBie Award Winners

At a wonderful event at the Sugar Club, which was wittily MCed by Senator David Norris, the 2007 ZeBBies were announced:

  • Honorary Award for Services to Writers: Anthony Cronin
  • Best TV Script: Ken Harmon for Legend (Ep. 1)
  • Best Film Script: John Carney for Once
  • Best Theatre Script: Tom Murphy for Alice Trilogy
  • Best Radio Script: Martin Lynch for An Enemy of the People

Monday 5 November 2007

Strike Blog

The WGA has established a blog called United Hollywood, which will follow the day-to-day business of the writers' strike in Hollywood.

Sunday 4 November 2007

WGA Picket Captains Speak

Hollywood screenwriters and WGA Contract/Picket Captains discuss why they are united with their Guilds in the forthcoming strike.

Support the Strike

The boards of both American Guilds (East and West) have officially accepted the recommendation of their negotiating committee and approved a strike of their members against the member companies of the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers commencing at 12.01am on Monday morning the 5th November 2007 (8.01am our time).

The Chairperson of Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild, Audrey O'Reilly, has written to the Chairs of both American Guilds expressing the Guild's complete support for its colleagues in the United States and its admiration of their determined fight for principles that are essential to all writers, not just the members of the American guild. As you will know from the media the position adopted by the producers in their negotiations with the Guild was extraordinarily aggressive from the beginning. Their intention is clearly to ensure that income from internet distribution will not be shared with the creators of the content that they distribute.

This issue is remote from the day to day life of most writers but in fact it is the key issue for the future. We are fortunate to have the Writers Guild of America so determinedly fighting for this base-line principle on behalf of all writers.

The IPSG is a member of the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds. The members of the IAWG have agreed "To the greatest extent permitted by contract and law to honor work stoppages, publicize information about work stoppages to their respective memberships, and to lend all aid possible to each other in support of negotiating goals."

Consequently the IPSG requests members of the Irish Guild, and Irish writers in general, not to accept work from any member companies of the AMPTP for the duration of the strike.

Members of the IPSG and Irish writers in general should be aware of Rule 13 of the WGA Strike Rules which states:

"The Guild (WGA) does not have the authority to discipline non members for strike breaking and/or scab writing. However, the Guild can and will bar that writer from future Guild membership. This policy has been strictly enforced in the past and has resulted in convincing many would be strike breakers to refrain from seriously harming the Guild and its members during a strike."
As Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain put it in a statement to British writers: "Strikebreaking would have a devastating long-term effect on a writers' US career."

How can you help? We will be distributing a letter for signature at the ZeBBie awards on Tuesday which you can sign. As the strike progresses we may also be seeking your support for our American colleagues fight in other ways.

Success for the Writers Guild of America is a prerequisite for us to be able eventually to share in the economic life of the content we create. A victory for them will be a victory for us.

Any member of the IPSG with a specific question should contact David Kavanagh at the Guild office.

Friday 2 November 2007

Strike Monday in Hollywood

The New York Times reports that unless a deal is struck over the weekend Hollywood screenwriters will be on strike as of Monday.

The leaders of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East were expected to order their roughly 12,000 members covered by a contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to stop work and be assigned picket duty when the strike begins.

The strike call follows more than three months of contentious negotiations. Ultimately, the two sides gridlocked over the writers’ insistence on a sharp increase in their residuals payments for the re-use of movies and shows on DVDs and on new payments for the distribution of such works on the Internet, over cell phones and elsewhere. Producers refused to boost the DVD payments and rebuffed demands related to electronic distribution, arguing that industry economics and still-shifting technology made accommodation impossible.