RESOURCES

Rate Card

Various Sample Agreements

Confidentiality Agreement  Deferred Payments  Non-Disclosure Agreement 
Option Agreement  Cease and Desist Demand  Release Agreement 

WGSA Contract and Agreements (Under Construction)

WGSA Resource Booklet (under Construction).

Photo and video galleries.

WGSA Muse Awards

Workshops

IAWG

WGSA Markets and Festivals

General

What is the Writers Guild of South Africa?

The Writers Guild of South Africa is the only professional association in South Africa with a mandate to protect, empower and develop performance writers in the local film, television, radio, stage, animation, and new media (internet – mobile and digital distribution, and gaming). 

What is a performance writer?

A performance writer is someone who creates projects meant to be acted, sung, or spoken out loud, in other words, performed. This includes not only screenwriters who work for film and television, but also playwrights, radio writers, lyricists, computer games creators, animation writers, audio description writers, radio and TV news writers and speechwriters.

Membership

Why should I join the WGSA?

We are here to accomplish collectively what cannot be accomplished by one writer alone. Members can ask for contractual and industry-related advice for free, discounted rates on workshops, script registry, Final Draft, and IMDBPro. All members are eligible to enter the WGSA Muse Awards. An award for writers by writers. For more benefits, go to http://writersguildsa.org/join-the-wgsa/

Where do I apply?

Please go to http://writersguildsa.org/join-the-wgsa/

Do you have payment plans?

The WGSA has a payment plan available for all categories except for Corporate and Student membership

Does the WGSA have special discounted prices for persons over 60?

The WGSA allows a 40% discount for Full and Candidate membership for persons 60 years or older. To qualify for this discount, your Identity Document / Passport must accompany your application.

I don’t live in South Africa, can writers from outside of South Africa join the WGSA?

Yes, but we would advise that you research unions, guilds, and associations in your country (whether they exist or not) and the requirements thereof, before applying for membership.

Writing

“I think that writers are made, not born or created out of dreams or childhood trauma – that becoming a writer is a direct result of conscious will. Of course there has to be some talent involved, but talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study; a constant process of honing.” – Stephen King

I think I’d like to write something

What do you want to write? A movie? A short story? A book? A TV programme? An article in a magazine? A stage play? A computer game? There are many different types of writing, and WGSA concentrates on performance writing., which means we do not actively work with prose writers like novelists, journalists, or short story writers. For that, try the Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA), Academic and Non Fiction Authors Association of South Africa (ANFASA), or the Southern African Freelancers Association (SAFREA).

Should I send out my script as is?

Who are you sending it to and why?  A more effective strategy is to NOT send the entire script. Rather, prepare a good logline and synopsis of the script, and use these to attract interest in response to calls for scripts, which you can find en-masse on the internet.

PLEASE NOTE: Before you pitch, or send out any material, make sure you register it with our script registry and if you’re a member, contact us for legal advice on negotiation and agreements.

Can the WGSA read and edit my work for me?

We don’t evaluate or edit your work but facilitate access to script editors via job alerts. We don’t provide a typing service but can facilitate this opportunity to keen members.

Also, if you are a member, you’re eligible to enter your script into the Muse Awards where at least three judges will read it and offer some feedback. Find out more here http://writersguildsa.org/wgsa-muse-awards/

Another option is to apply for development funding offered by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF).

Where do I go if I need help with creative writing?

WGSA offers a basic screenwriter’s course in all official South African languages as well as short courses covering specific topics. Please feel free to contact the WGSA or check the website for information of our courses on offer.

Agents & Producers

Are there any script agents or managers in South Africa?

South Africa does not have writer agents. The industry is not large enough to make it a viable business. Some writers have international agents. International agents will only take on writers who produce enough material to put out and are useful to collect residuals on their behalf.

Can the WGSA help me find work, then?

We don’t find employment for you, refer, or recommend any performance writer for assignments, but we do facilitate employment opportunities via job alerts.

Does the WGSA submit my work to producers?

We don’t submit your work to producers, but we host pitching workshops (and sometimes pitching sessions for our members).

How can I have access to the South African writers’ directory?

We are currently in the planning stages of a writers’ directory where members will be able to update, view their profiles, and showcase their work.

How can I get my work out there? Are there producers I can talk to? Is there a producers’ directory?

Job alerts are a membership benefit. Short of that, if you’re looking for producers, try contacting the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) or the Independent Black Filmmakers Collective (IBFC). Make sure you’re specific with genre of your script and they can provide you with a list of appropriate producers. The WGSA hold pitching sessions from time to time, where writers can pitch directly to local producers. Please look out for our mailed alerts.

PLEASE NOTE: Before you pitch, or send out any material, make sure you register it with our script registry and if you’re a member, contact us for legal advice on how to approach said producers.

How do I get my amazing screenplay to Hollywood?

Look at the local market first and get a professional script assessment of your work done. Yes, that costs money, but it’ll help you improve your screenplay and up your chances of finding somebody to make a film of it. Enter your work in competitions, both local and international. If you win or get shortlisted in a competition, your name gets out there. You can also try to query reputable international script agents or managers to help you get your script into the right hands. There are numerous sites on the internet which teach you how to write a query letter. Do your research and then approach as many people as possible. You’ll be lucky if you get a couple of responses, but that’s better than nothing. Just make sure that these responders are reputable and are not just looking to make a quick buck out of you. Unfortunately, there are many chancers out there.

IAWG

What is the IAWG?

The International Affiliation of Writers Guilds (IAWG) was established in 1986 to address the globalization of the entertainment industry and improve the working conditions of professional film and television writers worldwide through collective action, mutual support, and common representation internationally. (IAWG)

What are the benefits of being an IAWG member?

Through financial, professional, and collegial support, the IAWG plays a mentoring role in assisting emerging guilds in their development and helps to build professional working relationships among more established organizations. Its annual general meetings focus on the exchange of information on bargaining strategies, developments in technology, legislation, the work of collecting societies, and copyright law. The realization that writers’ struggles are universal in nature is in itself empowering. (IAWG)

Who are members of the IAWG?

La Guilde Française des Scénaristes (France)

New Zealand Writers Guild 

Screenwriters Association India

Scriptwriters Guild of Israel 

Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma (Quebec)

Verband Deutscher Drehbuchautoren (Germany)

Writers Guild of America, East 

Writers Guild of America, West 

Writers Guild of Canada 

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain 

Writers Guild of Ireland 

Writers Guild of South Africa 

Does that mean that if I’m a WGSA member, I automatically become a member of the WGA should I decide to work in America?

No, it means that you are a member of the Writers Guild of South Africa, however, please inform us of your intentions to join the Writers Guild of America and we can assist you accordingly. Even though we are affiliated with international guilds through the IAWG, all guilds are governed by their country’s copyright laws, and have unique requirements and benefits.

Script Registration

What is script registration?

Script registration offers writers peace of mind when submitting material, but should not be confused with copyright, the laws around which are not universal. Registration proves your script was written on a certain date should a program that closely resembles your work be produced by a third party and you wish to take legal action (it is important to note that ideas alone cannot be registered). Because the rules around evidence vary, registering your script in the jurisdiction(s) where you intend to submit it is the best way to ensure your material will be recognized as valid evidence should a dispute arise. (IAWG)

So, when I register my script, I’m registering my copyright?

There is no provision in South African law to register one’s copyright, other than copyright in a film as defined in the Copyright Act. What that means is that there is no copyright on an idea. It must be written out to a minimum of synopsis length and must give a good outline of your characters, the problems those characters face and how those characters resolve their challenge. In other words, the more detail you put on paper, the better your chance of proving that work is your intellectual property.

How do I prevent people from stealing my screenplay and idea?

The WGSA Script Registry allows you to lodge your synopsis, treatment and/or screenplay in a safe environment, and have it registered to your name on the date and time you submit it. This holds up in court as proof of ownership of the work as lodged. If you suspect that your work has been plagiarised, the copy you submitted to the registry will be compared to the work of the other party, and similarities in the story and character arcs as well as dialogue will be evaluated. Just changing names of characters and places is no longer sufficient to misappropriate a script or screenplay, and courts both locally and internationally have ruled very hard against people trying to steal other writers’ intellectual property.

Which registration is stronger, the WGSA or the CIPC?

Neither is stronger than the other. The costs and services thereof vary.

Is it better to register my script with the WGA if I’m going to sell it in America?

As mentioned in the question about script registration, “registering your script in the jurisdiction(s) where you intend to submit it is the best way to ensure your material will be recognized as valid evidence should a dispute arise”.

Is the script registry for members only?

No, script registration is open to both members and non-members. Members qualify for a discount. To take advantage of the discounted fees, make sure you are a member in good standing by contacting admin@writersguildsa.org to obtain membership information.

Does the WGSA Registry only register screenplays or scripts?

No, you may register outlines, concepts, synopses, treatments, unproduced screenplays, or scripts.

Why do I have to register my unproduced work?

It is a record of ownership. Never pitch or send out your script to a third party before you have protected it by registering it with the WGSA Script Registry.

How soon will I receive my document of registration?

Between 24 and 48 hours via email as a PDF attachment.

How long is my script registered for?

Your script registration is valid for 3 years and includes four free updates!

What happens to my script when it expires?

It will be destroyed automatically after 3 years.

What happens if I pay for an update? Will that extend my registration by a year?

No, the update fee covers the administration of your script registration.

What if I don’t want my script to expire?

You will need to start a new registration, pay the registration fee, if you wish to keep your script registered. 

What happens if I’ve registered my script and I’m involved in a legal issue, and I need proof that the work belongs to me?

You may request a copy of your work by writing to admin@writersguildsa.org. Your written request must be accompanied by the registration number of the project as well as a certified copy of your identity document or passport.

Where can I register the book I wrote?

Although we will allow you to register manuscripts of novels and or poetry, we recommend that you rather consider registering your work with CIPC.

What is a chain of title?

“Chain of title” is the series of legal documents or agreements that establishes proprietary rights or ownership in a motion picture or project, including documentary evidence of assignments, from its concept through completion and beyond. A “clean” chain of title means the chain of title does not have any gaps in the chain in ownership or other issues that raise doubts regarding ownership. (Rodriques Law). A copyright registration certificate is an example of a chain of title document.

What happens if I want to register my material with a pen name and not my name?

When you are registering with the WGSA Script Registry, put your real name as the owner of the material and your pen name as the creator or writer of the material.

IP & Copyright

What is the difference between IP and Copyright?

Intellectual Property (IP) is a term that describes the application of the mind to develop something new or original. IP can exist in various forms namely, an invention, a new brand, design, or artistic creation. There are four types of IP: trademarks, patents, designs, copyright.  Copyright (or author’s right) is an exclusive right granted by law for a limited period to an author, designer, etc. for his/her original work (CIPC).  

What is the WGSA official stand on the Copyright Amendment Bill?

We are part of the Copyright Coalition of South Africa (CCSA). A committee of organised industry guilds and unions dedicated to protecting rights of content creators and campaigning for the redrafting of the Copyright Amendment Bill (CAB). 

Why should I care about CAB?

It affects our livelihoods, this is where we can make sure that writers are paid royalties (i.e. residuals or repeat fees) for all work, on all platforms, by all users – among other things.

What is the difference between royalties and residuals?

Films and television shows, just like songs, are creative works that are protected by copyright. As such, the owners of film copyrights are entitled to royalties when their products are used. In film and television, the copyright owners are typically the producers. The directors, performers, writers, and other key creatives involved in the work’s production usually sign contracts relinquishing copyrights and stipulating royalty terms.   

Royalties, in film and television, go by the name ‘residuals’ and are paid when a film or program is rebroadcast. Creatives are typically paid a large upfront fee for a film’s theatrical release or a television show’s first airing and are then paid residuals for any subsequent airing, including DVD release, broadcast TV syndication and new media use such as Netflix streaming. The valuation of residuals considers the amount of time spent on the production, the type of production and the market in which the production appears (e.g. TV, DVD, new media).   

Most creatives are members of unions, called guilds, which sets the terms of their members’ contracts, including residual rates. The guilds routinely lobby for higher residuals and have staged strikes during particularly contentious Hollywood power struggles to ensure that residuals continue to be paid. (Royalty Exchange)  

Why are we entitled to residuals?  

The writing profession is a financially risky one and is rarely profitable. The writer is taking upon himself the task of making something out of nothing, in hopes that it will find an audience, entertain, affect the world as we know it.  

It is both decent and proper that beneficiaries of the work and those who enjoy the writer’s creation and commission it to share the risk in the form of salary for work done, and payment for the license to use it in the future in the form of royalties and residuals.  

When any organization, broadcaster, or public institution does the indecent thing and makes the choice to hold payment of royalties from the writer, it harms the artist as well as the industry. Such an institution sets bad examples and promotes immoral business practices. (An excerpt from a letter by the IAWG in support of the WGSA).

Who currently pays for residuals in South Africa?

Currently, the SABC is the only broadcaster that pays for residuals. TV drama and sitcoms only. However, since the public broadcaster signs the contract with the production house (and not the writer), it does not guarantee that the writer is entitled to residuals UNLESS, that clause formed part of the contract.