Sat Oct 22 09:05:50 CAT 2016

Union set to fight for scriptwriters' rights

By unknown | Apr 30, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

SCRIPTWRITER Basil Dube seems to have gained a new sense of urgency in his capacity as the general secretary of the South African Scriptwriters' Union (Saswu).

Formed last year, the Newtownbased union has been formed to represent the interests of one of the most vulnerable sectors of the entertainment industry - the writers who churn out the words that soapie stars speak.

The creators of these stories are often exploited by producers of TV programmes because the relationship between writer and producer is at best ambiguous and at worst often unfairly weighed against the writer.

"Producers' attitude towards writers has always been defined by a take it or leave it attitude," Dube says.

"The producers have the upper hand and tend to think that they are doing the scriptwriter a favour when it comes to negotiations about issues of copyright and remuneration."

According to Dube, Saswu is at present talking to its counterparts in Canada and the UK to try and find areas of cooperation.

Saswu is connected with the South African Scriptwriters Association (Saswa) in that it is the union arm of the writers.

Saswa concentrates on the professional aspects such as training and development through the Scriptwriters' Insitute in Parktown, Johannesburg.

The union is also active in matters pertaining to sharpening of writers' skills by organising training .

"This year will see the launch of a Writers' mini-market at the Durban International Fim Festival," Dube says.

"This is a collaboration between Saswu and the Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

"The main objective of the market is to promote and strengthen the creative partnership between writers, to expose writers to the business side of writing and to create an effective and progressive forum to connect with other writers."

Dube dismisses the generally held view in the industry that the country lacks talented and capable black scriptwriters.

"It's not true," he says. "It's just that these writers are never given a chance to write for the mainstream."


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