Archive for January 15th, 2010

BAFTA Undervalues Writers

15th January 2010 by Maura McHugh

The Stage reports that BAFTA’s decision to move the writer category to the Craft Awards – which are not televised – has brought a scathing response from screenwriters in the UK, who claim BAFTA is undervaluing the contribution of writers to the film and television industry.

He [Tony Jordan, (Hustle, Life on Mars)] added: “I do think that the writer’s role is somewhat played down by the BAFTA awards. After all, everything begins with the word. As they are so frequently gushing about an actor finding his or her character and performing all the complexity and depth of that character, surely they should be equally gushing about the person who created that character in the first place.”

The complaints came to a head after Danny Stack, who has written for TV series such as EastEnders, penned an open letter to BAFTA calling for it to raise the prominence of its awards for writers in both its TV and film awards.

In his letter, he described screenwriting as a craft, but said: “It does not belong in the craft section alongside make-up and sound.”

Stack told The Stage: “I think screenwriting is undervalued or dismissed and worse, condescended to, when everyone pays lip service to how important it is in the whole process. I think BAFTA should put it front and centre with the main awards and categories.”

His views are echoed by Katharine Way, who has written for Doctors and Casualty, and who claimed that there should be two writing awards – one for drama and one for comedy. “How do you compare the writing of Criminal Justice, say, with the writing of a new sitcom?” she said.

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain deputy general secretary Anne Hogben said it was an ongoing concern for the guild’s members and added: “Most writers feel very disgruntled indeed about how they are airbrushed out of the picture. BAFTA is obsessed with glamorous starlets. They prefer to keep writers in the back room, along with the make-up artists and focus pullers.”