April 2002

News from the UGS (France)

The UGS (Union Guilde des Scénaristes, the French Screenwriters' Union-Guild) was founded in July 2000. It is a labour union born of the merger between two professional screenwriter organisations: La Guilde des Scénaristes (Screenwriters' Guild), an association created in 1993, and the Union des Scénaristes (Screenwriters' Union), a labour union, created in 1996.

As of now, the UGS has over 200 members. It is open to all screenwriters working for feature films, television, animation, or multimedia, who can prove to be active professional screenwriters, meaning they earn an important part of their income through audio-visual writings.

Since February 2001, the UGS has been the beneficiary of an operating subsidy granted by the SACD (French Collective Management Group) and has thus been able to hire, since September 2001, a managing director: Alain Drahy.

The union also raises money thanks to its members' dues, as well as through the pedagogical actions it carries out for the Conservatoire Européen de l'Ecriture Audiovisuelle (European Conservatory for Audiovisual Writing), a screenwriters' school, of which the UGS is a founding member.

The UGS publishes a quarterly magazine: la Gazette des Scénaristes (The Screenwriters' Gazette).

Here are some of the latest UGS undertakings:

- The UGS signed a memorandum of agreement with the main French television producers' union: the USPA.

This memorandum sets the main terms defining the various steps in the writing of a screenplay: the "argument" (or pitch), the "concept", the "synopsis", the "bible", the "dialogue continuity", the "rewriting" and the "polishing"…

The memorandum makes it mandatory to create a genealogy tree for each screenplay, showing the names of the successive authors who took part in the writing, by chronological order (in the case that different authors work one after the other on a same text).

The memorandum also sets the guidelines of a code of good conduct between producers and screenwriters: no synopsis to be written without contract or pay, no project to be shown to a broadcaster without the author having a contract, no author to be replaced on a project without a written explanation etc.

In case conflicts arise between producers and screenwriters, the memorandum also stipulates the creation of a mediation and arbitration committee, made up of representatives of both parties.

Said commission has just been set up, at the beginning of the year 2002. It is called the AMAPA.

The memorandum is valid for a duration of three years.

- The UGS has also set up a legal aide office to assist the members.

- The UGS is managed by a board of members, of twenty people maximum. The last yearly General Meeting occurred on March 21, 2001. Sixteen board members were elected. The co-presidents will be elected by the board members, amongst themselves.

- The UGS is setting up training modules for all screenwriters (be they UGS members or not), who, not being salaried, were excluded from such until now.

- The UGS is studying the creation of a European Screenwriters' Festival for the FSE. As of now, negotiation is under way with various cultural event production groups, so as to define the best formula.

- The UGS has just subscribed to the Conseil Permanent des Ecrivains (Writers' Permanent Council).

- The UGS has joined the Coalition pour la Diversité Culturelle (Coalition for Cultural Diversity), and taken part in the first Montréal conference in September 2001. It is also a member of the Comité de Vigilance pour la Diversité Culturelle (the Vigilance Committee), created by the Coalition.

- The UGS takes part in the Etats-Généraux de la Création Audiovisuelle (Global Meetings concerning Audiovisual Creation), which is intent on maintaining a quality public and State audiovisual service.

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