WGSA Screenwriting Rates Guideline for 2019

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The WGSA is actively involved in the debate around the new South African Copyright Amendment Bill and is fighting to have it include a clause that deals with repeat and residual payments for writers.

The WGSA recognises the individual’s right to negotiate their own rate in the marketplace. However we also actively campaign against exploitation by both producers and broadcasters and actively promote the payment of rates that are fair and just for work done. We therefore recommend that members, producers and broadcasters use these guidlines when negotiating contracts.


TELEVISION

Rates vary along a sliding scale, with lowest rates for candidate members and beginners, average rates for working practitioners and highest rates for highly experienced professionals. These are the recommended WGSA rates for 2019, which are expected to escalate in accordance with inflation (4.9% in 2018) on a yearly basis.

CREATION, PROPOSAL & PITCHES

Creating a Story Idea or Concept

The creator is someone who has long been ignored in our industry, and who now has to be recognised, not only in credits, but also in payment. The creator, the person who comes up with the original idea, the main characters and the beginning and end of the story, holds the creator IP of the work which is developed from this idea. The IP can never be transferred to another person or company, but the rights to develop the idea can be bought from the creator, which is done through a contractual transfer of chain of title. The fees the creator can charge are not set in stone, but are highly negotiable – especially if there is a bidding war. It has to be noted that promises of using the creator as head writer or even one of the writers on the project is not acceptable. Either the idea is bought from the creator, or the creator is the one who holds chain of title and the intellectual property, making the creator the only person who can legally sell the idea to a broadcaster.

Creating & Writing a Pitch Proposal

This is the second development phase once the concept has been purchased and chain of title is transferred. During this phase, the characters, world and story arcs are developed, which are then used to pitch the work to a producer or broadcaster. This is generally a document not longer than 10 pages.

SERIES / SERIAL LESS THAN 26 EPISODES

R 8 000.00 – R 15 000.00 – 50% upfront

R 12 000.00 – R 20 000.00 – 50% upfront

SERIES / SERIAL LESS THAN 100 EPISODES

R 15 000.00 – R 25 000.00 – 50% upfront

Writing the Series Bible for Development

This is the full writers’ bible, which is a detailed document with research and full character sketches and backstories, which encompasses the whole series. Length of this work varies between 30 to 60 pages. This can be contracted separately, or may be included in the deliverables of the Head Writer.

SERIES / SERIAL LESS THAN 26 EPISODES

R 15 000.00 – R 25 000.00 – 50% upfront

SERIES / SERIAL MORE THAN 26 EPISODES

R 20 000.00 – R 35 000.00 – 50% upfront

SERIES / SERIAL MORE THAN 100 EPISODES

R 30 000.00 – R 55 000.00 – 50% upfront

Pitch Attendance

Pitch attendance is often included in Proposal price, but there are instances where writers charge separately

PER MEETING

R 850.00 – R 1 500.00 – 50% upfront

Writing the Series Bible for Development

The Sales Bible is done once development is concluded. It is a shortened version of the writers’ bible and is adapted to entice buyers to purchase the completed product. Again, this can be contracted separately or may be included in the deliverables of the Head Writer. If the Sales Bible is commissioned before the Series Bible, Series Bible rates apply.

SERIES / SERIAL LESS THAN 26 EPISODES

R 8 000.00 – R 15 000.00 – 50% upfront

SERIES / SERIAL MORE THAN 26 EPISODES

R 10 000.00 – R 18 000.00 – 50% upfront

SERIES / SERIAL MORE THAN 100 EPISODES

R 15 000.00 – R 22 000.00 – 50% upfront

MINIMUM SCRIPT COMMISSIONING FEES

There is a difference in payment rates for drama series/serials (aka short form series) and long running serials like soaps and telenovelas (aka long form series). Long form series are usually paid at a lower rate as they encompass a large number of episodes per writer, and step treatments are supplied by the story liners. In fact, the writer on a long form series is usually called a dialogue writer, because the story is already worked out for him. Rates on short form series (26 episodes or less) are higher as writers are expected to work directly from a synopsis and have to create their own treatment/step treatment. It also has to be noted here that short form series presently qualify for repeat fees from SABC, which must form part of the writer’s contract.

Payment for TV Features as well as long and short form series is done in phases, which need to be agreed upon by producer and writer and form part of the delivery and payment schedule of the contract.

A minimum of 20% of contract price should be paid as an advance before scripting begins on a telenovela.

WRITING PROMO VOICE OVER

R 800.00 per minute or part thereof

Television Script Rates

HEAD WRITER 1

per Month, including ongoing bible, treatments and script editing

R 90 00.00 – R 120 000.00

HEAD WRITER 2

per Month, excluding bible and script editing, inclusive of episode treatments

R 60 00.00 – R 80 000.00

SCRIPT EDITOR 1

per Month, including one rewrite per episode only

R 40 00.00 – R 50 000.00

SCRIPT EDITOR 2

per Episode, no rewrites

30 min Episode – R 2 000.00

60 min Episode – R 4 000.00

SCRIPT EDITOR 3

Rewrites per episode

30 min Episode – R 5 000.00

60 min Episode – R 10 000.00

TELEVISION FEATURE WRITER

R 60 000.00 – R 100 00.00

SHORT FORM SERIES WRITER

(Including drama and youth drama)

30 min Episode – R 8 000.00 – R 12 000.00

60 min Episode – R 12 000.00 – R 22 000.00

EDUCATIONAL DRAMA WRITER

30 min Episode – R 8 000.00 – R 12 000.00

60 min Episode – R 12 000.00 – R 22 000.00

90 min Episode – R 60 000.00 – R 100 000.00

DRAMATIZATIONS

30 min Episode – R 6 000.00 – R 10 000.00

60 min Episode – R 10 000.00 – R 20 000.00

90 min Episode – R 50 000.00 – R 80 000.00

ADAPTIONS

30 min Episode – R 6 000.00 – R 10 000.00

60 min Episode – R 10 000.00 – R 20 000.00

90 min Episode – R 50 000.00 – R 80 000.00

REVERSIONING

30 min Episode – R 4 000.00 – R 8 000.00

60 min Episode – R 7 000.00 – R 15 000.00

90 min Episode – R 25 000.00 – R 40 000.00

TV SERIES

(For the International Market – 3 drafts)

30 min Episode – R 12 000.00 – R 15 000.00

60 min Episode – R 18 000.00 – R 25 000.00

Workshop Attendance Fees

CONDUCTING A WORKSHOP

per day – R 5 000.00

ATTENDING A WORKSHOP

per day – R 2 000.00 – R 3 500.00

Long Running Series / Soaps / Telenovelas

HEAD WRITER

per Month

R 60 000.00 – R 90 000.00

STORYLINER

per 30 min episode, rotating A,B,C storylines among storyliners

R 5 000.00 – R7 000.00

BREAKDOWNER / TREATMENT COMPILER

per Episode

R 3 000.00 – R 5 000.00

STORY EDITOR

per Episode

R 3 000.00 – R 5 000.00

per Month

R 40 000.00 – R 55 000.00

SCRIPT EDITOR

per Episode

R 1 900.00 – R 2 500 .00

Rewrite per episode

R 3 500.00

per Month

Including one rewrite per episode

R 40 000.00 – R 55 000.00

SCRIPT CONTINUITY

per Month

R 20 000.00 – R 27 500.00

DIALOGUE WRITER

per 30 Minute episode

R 8 000.00 – R 10 000.00

RESEARCHER

per Day

R 2 000.00 – R 4 000.00

per Week

R 10 000.00 – R 14 000.00

SCRIPT CO-ORDINATOR

per Month

R 10 000.00 – R 14 000.00

WORKSHOP / BRAINSTORM

Conducting per Day

R 5 000.00

Attending per day

R 1 500.00 – R 3 500.00

Sitcom / Dramedy

Head Writer

Incuding Treatments

R 60 000.00 – R 90 000.00

Story Editor

per 30 Minute episode – R 1 900 – R 2 500.00

per 60 Minute episode – R 2 500.00 – R 5 000.00

Script Editor

per 30 Minute episode – R 1 900.00 – R 2 500.00

per 60 Minute episode – R 2 500.00 – R 5 000.00

Writer

per 30 Minute episode – R 8 000.00 – R 10 000.00

per 60 Minute episode – R 12 000.00 – R22 000.00

Gag Writing

per gag – R 50.00

Sketch Writing

per 5 – 8 Minute sketch

R 1 600.00

Documentary

Research

STANDARD

per Day – R 1 000.00 – R 2 500.00

INTERNATIONAL

R 80 000.00 – R 100 000.00

Synopsis

R 5 000.00 – R 20 000.00

Treatment

STANDARD

R 5 000.00 – R 20 000.00

INTERNATIONAL

R 100 000.00 – R 150 000.00

Voice Over Narration to Picture

R 10 000.00 – R 15 000.00

Animation

Dramatic scripts for animation are calculated at the same rate as short form television series. As animation scripts are often shorter, a per minute rate may apply.

per Minute

R 250.00 – R 500.00

Children’s Programmes

Pre School Scripts

Including storyline, format and characters

R 130.00 – R 150.00

Excluding storyline, format and characters

R 100.00 – R 120.00

Lyrics for Songs

R 80.00 – R 100.00 per song

Original Cartoons

R 280.00 – R 200.00

Workshop Attendance

R 800.00 per day

Entertainment

Entertainment scripts vary greatly in scripting needs and production fees available. A good guideline is that the script fee equals 10% of the cost per minute of the production.

Talk Shows

per Minute including research

R 175.00 – R 300.00

Variety, Magazine, Game Shows & Music

per Minute

R 150.00 – R 200.00

Religious Programmes

per Minute

R 180.00 – R 250.00

Speciality Shows

(for hearing or visually impaired audiences)

per Minute

R 220.00 – R 280.00

Educational Programmes

Rates for scripting Educational Programming vary by genre, with dramatic works costed at the same rate as short form drama productions. Variety, magazine, talk and specialty shows are costed as per Entertainment scripts.

Translations

DIALOGUE

English / Afrikaans

30 Minutes – R 1 200.00 – R 1 500.00

60 Minutes – R 2 400.00 – R 3 000.00

English / Ethnic Languages

30 Minutes – R 1 400.00 – R 1 800.00

60 Minutes – R 2 800.00 – R 3 600.00

VOICE OVER NARRATION

English / Afrikaans

30 Minutes R 1 500.00 – R 1 800.00

60 Minutes – R 3 000.00 – R 3 600.00

English / Ethnic Languages

30 Minutes R 1 700.00 – R 2 000.00

60 Minutes – R 3 400.00 – R 4 000.00

Subtitle Writing

30 Minutes

R 500.00 – R 650.00

60 Minutes

R 1 000.00 – R 1 300.00

90 Minutes

R 1 500.00 – R 2 000.00


MOTION PICTURES

Top End Screenplay

(Budget: Over R 8 000 000.00)

Includes treatment

R 350 000.00 – R 500 000.00

or 2.5% of budget

Standard Original Screenplay

(Budget: R 1 200 000.00 to R 8 000 000.00)

Includes the treatment

R 200 000.00 – R 300 000.00

or 3% of total budget

Non-Original Screenplay / Adaptions

Includes treatment

R 180 000.00 – R220 000.00

Low Budget Screenplay

Includes treatment

R 60 000.00- R 80 000.00

or 6% of total budget

Mini Budget Screenplay

(Defined as a film with a total budget of R 200 000.00 – R 500 000.00)

Includes treatment

R 16 000.00 – R 40 000.00

or 8% of total budget

Micro Budget Screenplay

(Defined as a film with a total budget of under R 200 000.00

R 15 000.00 – R 20 000.00

or 10% of total budget

Installment Payments

Advance Payment on Signature of Contract

30%

Delivery of the Original Treatment

20%

Delivery of the First Draft Screenplay

30%

Delivery of Final Draft of the Screenplay

20%

Other Payments

Script Editor

R 60 000.00 – R 70 000.00

Script Polish

(Maximum 4 x rewrites)

R 50 000.00 – 150 000.00

Story Supervisor

Concept to Treatment

R 40 000.00 – R 50 000.00

During Script Polish

R 20 000.00 – R 30 000.00

Script Rewrite

Charged pro-rate with the original screenplay as reference, less the percentage of the original which is kept.

Additional compensation for Story or Concept of the Screenplay (Creator IP)

8 – 12% of the Development Budget

Principal Photography Payment

3 – 5% of the Production Budget

Exploitation

1.2% of gross or 0.3% of net profit


CORPORATE / AUDIO VISUAL

Standard Audio Visual

per Minute – write with research supplied

R 500.00 – R 650.00

per Minute – write with research supplied

R 400.00 – R 500.00

Speciality Audio Visual

per Minute – requires project expertise

R 1 500.00 – R2 000.00

Educational Audio Visual

per Minute

R 1 000.00 – R 1 500.00


NEW MEDIA / INTERNET

New Media series can be short films specifically produced for the web and mobile devices like cell phones. Most are quite short – between 3 to 10 minutes – and here development costs are calculated on a per minute rate. Streaming services also commission projects ranging from drama to documentary to actuality, which range from 30 to 90 minutes. Scripting fees for streaming services are on par with television rates.

Dramatic Web Series

per Minute – 10% of total Production Budget

Web Blog

per Word – R 0.40 – R 0.55

Web Page Administrator

per Hour – R300.00 – R 400.00


ROYALTIES, RESIDUALS & REPEAT FEES

Royalties

Royalties are paid on books and music, but for screenwriters sharing in exploitation fees these royalties are called Residuals.

Producer Royalties are calculated as 30% of Distributor’s net profit.

Book Royalties are calculated at 10% of Publisher’s net profit

Residuals

On sales, both international and local, screenwriter residuals are calculated as follows:

Motion Pictures – 1.2% of Distributor’s gross profit

Television  – 1.2% of Producer’s gross profit

OR

0.3% of Net profit

Repeat Fees

Repeat fees are paid if programmes are repeated over and above the contractually agreed number of free repeats on the same channel they were produced for. Contractually SABC may have the right to claim free repeats in the first week of broadcast on associated SABC channels (i.e., SABC1, SABC2, SABC3).

Repeat fees are calculated as follows:

Story by or Created by

25% of total the repeat fees paid during the different repeat stages

Screenwriters / Storyliners / Editors

A pro-rata share of their original fee

1st Repeat – 50% of the original fee

2nd Repeat – 25% of the original fee

3rd Repeat – 25% of the original fee

4th Repeat – 10% of the original fee

No further repeat fees are paid after the 4th repeat.