Old, white men dominate U.K. scripter survey

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The majority of screenwriters penning movies deemed British under U.K. certification laws are not from these shores and, in fact, most are members of the Writers Guild of America, according to a report issued by the U.K. Film Council on Monday.

The report also indicates that 98% of the random sample taken are white, while 82.5% were men and 66% were older than 46. Another key finding, according to the Council-commissioned research, is that 77% of those asked had written for television previously.

The study, titled "Writing British Films — Who Writes British Films," puts the diversity of the U.K. film industry to question and opens up debate on how writers are recruited.

The first study of its kind, it was conducted by the University of London from a sample of 63 screenwriters credited on a random sample of 40 films certified as British in 2004 and 2005 and theatrically released in the U.K.

The council says the findings will be used to kick-start a debate on how to establish better links between commissioners of screenplays for British films and writers from a greater diversity of backgrounds. It also plans to solicit the views of agents and other industry gatekeepers about the roles they can play in broadening the diversity of writers for British films.

Another finding is that most writers are being employed after being commissioned by a producer, director or production company rather than on the basis of a pitch by the writer.

"Having established the facts, and highlighted the issue, we are hoping to collaborate with the industry to find ways to address it," U.K. Film Council diversity boss Marcia Williams said.
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