Scripted Ink. focuses on bringing commercially viable scripts and great writers to an industry hungry for both. It works with strategic partners in the Australian film and television industry identifying, incubating and developing talent; acting as a catalyst facilitating commercial exposure and opportunity; and ensuring that writers are properly recognised and rewarded for the successful exploitation of their work. A joint venture between Shane Brennan and the Australian Writers’ Guild, Scripted Ink. builds on the infrastructure and track record of the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Pathways Program to identify talent, invest in that talent and bring it to the market place.
Clockwise from the top left: Judi McCrossin, Peter Gawler, Ella Roby and Lachlan Marks
A still from the early animation of Catgod, featuring characters Catgod and Adam.
From left to right: Angela MacDonald, Sam Meikle, Ian Simmons and Cathy Strickland
Scripted Ink has been created with the purpose of building the Australian screen industry by rewarding scriptwriting talent in such a way that respects, rewards and harnesses the full value of writers in the creative process. Independent research commissioned by Scripted Ink. demonstrates the gap between Australia’s approach to, and investment in, scriptwriters and script development with that of the U.S. and the U.K. and the attendant correlation between script/writer-focussed development and success.
The creative contribution of writers, their creative vision, their commitment to story, and their experience in their craft provide the foundation for successful production. Investment in this crucial and cultural capital is key to the creative and commercial success of our industry and our stories.
Scripted Ink. incubates and accelerates quality Australian writers and their screenplays through direct development funding; showcasing them to production companies, broadcasters and investors and assisting in brokering commercially and creatively successful partnerships. The type of support offered to Australian writers through Scripted Ink. will vary from case to case and be individually tailored to the particular writer and his or her project.
To be considered for Scripted Ink. support, writers first need to be invited to join the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Pathways Program after having their original works peer-reviewed.
Australian Writers’ Guild’s members are regularly invited to be considered for the Pathways Program via a number of different channels. The Australian Writers’ Guild’s Pathways Program provides a valuable springboard for writers to develop and commercialise their unproduced original works. This is being further expanded to create opportunities for experienced and emerging writers alike to have their original works considered by Scripted Ink.
Scripted Ink. is interested in funding the development of original screenplays of all kinds, including:
Producers, broadcasters and other investors will be invited to invitation-only networking events and pitching opportunities with high-potential scriptwriters. Scripted Ink. assists parties in entering into commercial arrangements, including options and deals that provide sufficient flexibility and exclusivity.
Partnerships between producers and broadcasters and scriptwriters will enable them to gain competitive advantage in the current highly competitive global screen industry while ensuring original creators are given the creative and financial role crucial for success.
To qualify for investment by Scripted Ink. in projects they wish to option, production companies and broadcasters will be required to offer writers minimum terms and conditions, in keeping with the industry agreements that have been negotiated by the Australian Writers Guild and the Screen Producers Association.
Scripted Ink. values relationships with Federal and State government funding bodies, reinforcing the value of its services in the marketplace where the identification and bringing to market of high-potential scriptwriters is inherently complex. It will play a critical role in lobbying the Australian Government for support for scriptwriting and innovation in the Australian screen industry. Scripted Ink. seeks partnerships; creative, practical, and financial and will use its investments as catalysts to trigger funding from other industry and government partners.
Scripted Ink. development investment funding is provided in the form of recoupable investment. This recoupment is payable when and if the funded project is produced, on the first day of principle photography.
Many writers sign option agreements and assignment deeds that do not adequately reward them for their creativity. When considering terms and conditions in option agreements and assignment deeds, Scripted Ink. will take into account the following considerations:
Experience of the writer
Scripted Ink. expects that the terms and conditions of any option agreements for projects in which it invests should be tailored according to the experience of the writer.
Scripted Ink. understands that Producers need time to work with the writer to develop the script and development materials, find market attachments and to raise finance. The option periods into which this time is divided and the number of extensions of these option periods are important factors in Scripted Ink.’s considerations. Granting an exclusive option to a producer means the writer is relinquishing the opportunity to shop their project to others in the marketplace for the option term, so it is important that this option term and any extension period is reasonable in all circumstances and that the Option Fee is adequate compensation for relinquishing this right for the option period.
At the beginning of each option period, the writer should be paid an equitable fee for granting an exclusive option to the producer. The degree to which these fees are considered to be fair and reasonable will be determined according to the nature of the project, the progress required in order to trigger an extension, the level of investment the Producer is bringing to the project, the level of interest in the project in the marketplace, the experience of the writer and the experience of the producer.
Investment by the Producer
Scripted Ink. expects producers, who are optioning projects funded by Scripted Ink., to bring some investment to the table. Such investment may come in the form of direct financial investment into the project for further development materials and marketplace attachments, option fees, facilities, co-investment arrangements and creative input (brainstorming/plotting etc.).
Development Schedule & Budget
Scripted Ink. recommends the writer and producer agree on a development schedule and development budget prior to embarking on development of the project. A producer should have obligations during the development period including using reasonable efforts to develop the project with diligence, commitment to pitching the project in the marketplace, packaging, facilitating workshops, plotting and brainstorming, applying for further development and production funding and the delivery of development materials and further drafts.
Future creative involvement of the writer(s)
Scripted Ink. expects writers, who have created original concepts, to be guaranteed ongoing creative involvement in their projects. Such involvement should be commensurate with the writer’s level of experience and should range from a right of meaningful consultation on key creative elements of the project and a right to write development materials and further drafts, to producer credits and associated entitlements.
Fees for Development Services
Writers should be paid fees commensurate with their experience and in accordance with AWG recommended minimums for services provided during the development period, especially where the Producer has received government funding.
Scripted Ink. expects rights reversion clauses in option and assignment agreements to state that in the event that the option is not exercised within the option term or principal photography has not commenced within a specified period the rights to the original work revert to the writer at no cost.
Use of Development Materials
Scripted Ink. is of the view that it is in nobody’s best interest for a project to be unable to proceed with another producer in the event the optioning producer is unsuccessful in having the project made or commissioned within the option term. As the creator of the original work, the writer should be permitted to take the project back into the marketplace to seek opportunities with other producers and any repayment of the original Producer’s development costs should not come from the writer. Rather, these costs should be paid from the production budget of the first film or series based on the work and be limited to reasonable and verifiable amounts actually paid by the Producer directly attributable to the project (excluding any amounts received from state or federal funding bodies).
Producers should not be able to assign any of their rights under the option agreement without the prior written consent of the writer.
Scripted Ink. expects all option agreements to be accompanied by an assignment deed which clearly sets out the terms upon which the copyright in the project is to be assigned if the option is exercised. Scripted Ink. does not recommend the inclusion of clauses which require a writer to sign the assignment deed at the same time as the option.
Creator Entitlements for Original Concepts
If the writer has created the original concept they are entitled to fees, revenue share, contingent compensation and credit entitlements which are additional to what they should receive as a writer. Highly experienced creators should also insist on Producer credits and entitlements.
Writer’s revenue share
Scripted Ink. expects writers, who have created original concepts for film or telelvision, to share in the revenue streams that flow from those projects on a pari passu basis with producers and other investors. It is also expected that those writers will receive a percentage of production budgets for any prequels, sequels, remakes or spin-offs.
Writers are entitled to contingent compensation for subsequent films and series and merchandising.
Scripted Ink. expects all originating writers to be credited appropriately. (E.g. “Written By” and “Created By”).
Reassignment of rights
If commissioning has not occurred or if principal photography has not commenced within a specified period, the Writer is entitled to a re-assignment of rights in the work, the development material and any script based on the original work or development material. The Producer’s development costs should not come from the writer. Rather, these costs should be paid from the production budget of the first film or series based on the work and be limited to reasonable and verifiable amounts actually paid by the Producer directly attributable to the project (excluding any amounts received from state or federal funding bodies). The Producer should also give effect to the reassignment of rights by signing a quit claim.
Collecting Society Payments
Scripted Ink. insists on the verbatim inclusion of the collecting society clauses recommended by the AWG to ensure the writer’s entitlement to statutory royalties is respected.
The Australian Film Industry Moral Rights Consent Accord (as amended from time to time) should apply.
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