Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dear BAFTA


Yesterday on Twitter, I was reminded that BAFTA treat their Best Screenwriting award with considerably less fuss than certain other categories, placing it in the craft section. I even made a comment on it last year at the top of this post.

From Twitter discussion, it emerged that BAFTA were adamant that the writer's award belonged with make-up and sound. This annoyed me, so I moaned about it a little, targeting BAFTAonline with a few comments. However, I felt the complaint needed to be expressed in more than 140 characters. So, here's an open letter to BAFTA which express my feelings on the matter (copy also sent to their offices). Feel free to agree, comment or share.

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Dear BAFTA

As a screenwriter, I am always surprised and disappointed at the lack of time and attention given to the Best Screenplay award at your award ceremonies. Whilst screenwriting is indeed a craft, it does not belong in the craft section alongside make-up and sound. Every year at awards season, we are treated to the same lip service (from actors, directors et al) that “a good script is the most important part of the process”. Anyone involved in production will agree. Without a script, you don’t have a story. Without a story, you don’t have a film.

So, if you follow that obvious logic, it doesn’t make any sense for the Best Screenplay award to be sidelined in the craft section. Last year, Best Visual Effects got higher billing than screenwriting. Come on BAFTA, if screenwriting is the most important part of the production process, which it clearly is, then give it the attention it deserves. I would politely request that you place it in the main awards, alongside the high profile categories. Let's celebrate and promote screenwriting rather than treat it as a functional cog in the system.

Yours faithfully

Danny Stack

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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Visuals and make-up are crucial for the look of a film, but a great screenplay is the thing that gets cemented in memory. Nobody redoes the make-up (Dark Knight aside), everyone quotes the lines.

Caroline Ferguson said...

I've been searching for a term that accurately describes the role and significance of the screenplay in a production chain, without denigrating the other essential parts. The word I came up with is 'nucleus'. I believe that says it all.

Fat Roland said...

Great letter. Too blimmin' right. I hope they respond.

Beki said...

Here, here.

Nick Hughes said...

Does anyone require further proof that writers are low on the food chain?

In my opinion, the award for screenwriting ranks just below the director's...but as a director, I would say that.

Danny Stack said...

Just to clarify: the TV gong is in separate craft awards. Best Script well down the order in film awards. Which I find quite annoying. I think the industry/press needs to change the way it refers to screenwriting, and promote its importance, 'cos then it would justify its place amongst the higher profile categories.

Tom Green said...

Nice one Danny. You might have set something rolling here...

Mutt said...

Hear hear.

I'd love to hear someone try and argue against this.

drettworlb said...

I am so amazed to hear that BAFTA are doing this.

For a country with such a tradition of holding it's writers and the written word in such high esteem (in all forms) I can't believe that BAFTA would regard screenwriting so lowly, even if just in terms of public interest. They certainly don't in the States or Australia.

So are you saying Danny that it is only the TV screenwriting award has been relegated to the Craft section?

Where is the Film Screenwriting award ranked then?

Danny Stack said...

TV writing gong in Craft Awards. I think they give a special BAFTA to a writer in the main TV awards, like Russel T, Paul Abbott, etc.

The film award is well down the pecking order. Best VFX got higher billing last year.

Hilary Wright said...

When I lived in the U.S. I watched the BAFTA film awards on BBC America, and guess which awards would get cut to fit into a tight time slot? You guessed it. Not even a mention of who had won best original or best adapted screenplay. Made my blood boil. BAFTA blamed BBC America for the edit.

Gail Renard said...

I'm right behind you, Danny, and so's the WGGB. Thanks for leading the way!

Anonymous said...

Who's the Hollywood mogul who described screenwriters as, "Schmucks with typewriters"? I think they're afraid to let writers have the status we deserve, in case we should start demanding better treatment and (horrors!) more money. We possibly might even demand Union representation that's at least as strong as the Writers Guild in America. (Whew! Sorry, you made my hackles rise with your letter, Danny!)

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything that is being said. It is not just the BAFTA's, it is the media who feed this culture that directors and actors are the 'brains'or 'creative drive' behind films and TV. Actors directors, are nothing without us. without writers/screen writers, there would be a whole industry missing. There is no doubt in my mind that writers are treated like bottom feeders.

One of the things I want to achieve as a writer is to make people aware who are really responsible for the TV and films they love. If say the BAFTA's can take their stupid hat off and recognize this, then maybe we are on the right road to achieving this.

Chris Aitken

Dom Carver said...

Writing is the backbone of the industry....so give us the recognition we deserve :-P

Jared said...

Well played, Danny. If you need me for any violent demonstrations, please shout.

Good luck.

davidlemon said...

Well put, Sir. Maybe everyone who agrees could add their names to an online petition with your letter?

Lucy V said...

Good for you Big D and thanks for standing up for us.

x

petrenkov said...

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Best regards
Darek Wish