Behind the scenes: 2 in 3 Indian screenwriters lament lack of pay incentives

Behind the scenes: 2 in 3 Indian screenwriters lament lack of pay incentives
Source: Pixabay
  • As many as 63% of screenwriters surveyed said that they are not being paid fairly.
  • Only 31% writers are offered a hybrid pay model contract with a mix of fixed pay and incentive/bonus.
  • As many as 53% writers said that they are dissatisfied with the credit they receive for their work.
Indian screenwriters might not be agitating like their US counterparts, but they are not in a happy position either. Things might have looked like they are changing with OTTs valuing story over the star (unlike films), but writers are yet to get their due — both in terms of pay and credit, says a report by Ormax and Tulsea.

As many as 63% in the survey of writers believe they are not being paid fairly, even as 65% said that pay levels have improved in recent years. However, 47% are impacted by lack of timeliness in payments – which is a significant concern.

A dominant majority of writers – 91% – believe that a hybrid pay model, consisting of a mix of fixed pay and incentive/bonus, will motivate them to do better work, and lead to higher ownership. However, only 31% have ever been offered a contract of this nature so far.

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The report ‘The Right Draft’ was conducted among 217 film and series writers in India across Hindi, English and four South Indian languages.

“It is well understood that writers are pivotal to the creative process, especially in the era of streaming platforms and in the post-pandemic world, where the audience are more demanding of good stories than ever before. Yet, the writers have struggled to get their due," said Datta Dave, co-founder of Tulsea.


It’s not just about money!

As many as 53% writers said that they are dissatisfied with the credit they receive for their work. “The dissatisfaction with credit in marketing and promotions is even higher, touching 65-80% of different types of marketing activities,” the report said.

However, the value of scripts and screenwriters is different across industries. As many as 90% writers believe theatrical business values stars over scripts, while the view is a lot more balanced for the OTT industry, though still tilted away from scripts and towards stars.

A large section of writers believe that they do not have adequate access to mentoring, infrastructure, grievance redressal, and other such industry forms of support.

Shailesh Kapoor, founder-CEO, Ormax Media said that the satisfaction levels of Indian writers with their role and place in the industry is an often-ignored topic. “We have always believed that measuring the quantum of a problem is the first step to finding solutions, and this report too aims to do the same, by creating conversations that are more data-led and objective,” he added.

However, it also looks like most screenwriters do not intend to do just that. As many as 91% writers said they have considered becoming a director or a producer at some point of time. As many as 26% said that they already made this transition even as they continue to write.

But few are going to higher jobs for money. As producers and directors, writers have more creative freedom on the product they create.


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