FWA propose model contract to regain rights

Mumbai: In a bid to regain the rightful position and respect of writers, the Film writers association in a conference announced and discussed a model contract that is to be presented to producers and the FWICE. This model contract was discussed in great detail amidst the presence of fellow members of the film writers association and lawyers Ashni Parekh and Rohini Vakil.

The drafted model contract lay guidelines regarding remuneration, credits, termination of writers, inclusion of another writer, Break up of fees amongst various other aspects.

Under this contract the minimum wage for screenplay, story and dialogues is put at a minimum of Rs three lakh each. Thus in effect if a writer who ends up writing all the three will attain a minimum wage of Rs nine Lakh. Under the contract the same will not be negotiable and has been deemed the bare minimum amount to be received by a writer.

Additionally the model contract, also through the means of the written agreement, states the time frame within which the writer must complete his work, further giving a sense of accountability to the writer. Furthermore the contract specifies that fees ranging from 15%-20% during each of the writing stage should be made available to the writer. And a month prior to the film goes on floors; the entire amount of payment must be made available to the writer.

In an event of additional writers being signed on, the contract gives guidelines as to the title credit of a writer to be assigned on a first hire basis. Moreover a NOC has to be attained from the writer in order to appoint co-writers. To ensure that the writer’s story is realized the contract also will specify that if the film for any reason is shelved, the right of the story will be given back to the writer, so that he may purse any other means to realize it. Also in an event of prequels and sequels being made, the initial writer will be given the right of refusal before another writer is signed on. Moreover he will also get a fee in the form of payment for the initial conception.

The model contract that was discussed at the film writer association conference held in Mumbai, laid many more ground rules of what is acceptable. It is learnt that the contract will be presented to the various producers association and the FWICE, once a finalized version of the contract is made. While this model contract proves to give the writers their due credit, a lot of the clauses are left to be negotiated when both the parties meet at the table to reach a consensus.

If the contract is signed and honored, then one would see a massive change in the industry and would be a landmark movement. On the other hand, speaking to a few individuals, one cannot rule out the fact that issues such as giving up moral rights, deliberate omissions in the credit, verbal agreement on reducing remunerations are still things that might very well take place. Nonetheless this new contract proves to help those first time writers to gain a foothold in the industry and help them stand their ground.