LOCAL screenwriters union PENULIS (Persatuan Penulis Lakon Layar Kuala Lumpur & Selangor) has issued a cover letter for its members in its latest attempt at improving industry standards.
The letter details vital information such as current basic minimum rates as well as terms of contract, employment and payment, and is meant to be issued to employers seeking services from PENULIS members.
Demands made by the union include securing writers a minimum of RM4000 for an entire telemovie as well as getting them their rightful advances upon commencement of writing projects.
It’s all just basic conditions absent in the screenwriting industry, such as the need for contracts before creative work can commence.
The letter also shows zero tolerance for industry malpractices such as crediting film directors for screenplays — an issue brought to light by Komuniti Filem Titiwangsa (KOMFIT) in October last year, when TV3 telemovie Cermin Kasih credited its screenwriters as script panelists and claimed that its screenplay belonged to its director of photography.
Harus diingatkan terdapat hanya satu kredit ‘standard’ yang digunakan di seluruh dunia bagi penulis skrip filem yakni kredit ‘Screenplay’ atau Lakon Layar. Kami menentang keras penggunaan kredit ‘Skrip’ untuk penulis skrip dan kredit ‘Lakon Layar’ untuk pengarah yang diamalkan oleh sesetengah pihak di negara ini. Kami juga menentang keras sebarang pihak yang tidak meletakkan kredit penulis sama ada sengaja mahupun tidak sengaja.
These rates will remain in place until 2018, when they will be revised once again to incorporate industry changes and cost of living.
Local writers have long been plagued by issues such as late payment, no payment, and contractual abuse in the screenwriting industry. Kafebuzz last week reported that approximately 90% of local television producers do not pay their screenwriters for work on proposals and pitches.
Deeming the issuance of this cover letter as the first step towards ensuring screenwriters are treated as creative professionals, PENULIS hopes to educate local production houses and encourage them to start paying writers adequately.
The union, presided over by filmmaker Nizam Zakaria, has been striving to create a healthier ecosystem for screenwriters in the country.
In December last year, PENULIS publicly opposed the exclusion of Eenaz Mokhtar from the literature adaptation of Astro telefilm Angin Cinta. Despite using material from her screenplay in the creation of a novel based on the telefilm, Eenaz was neither informed nor paid.
Astro however has pledged to seek resolution for the issue by the end of next month.
PENULIS is open to all writers and industry creatives — members can register for a yearly or lifetime membership via the union’s application page.