Majority of Indian screenwriters unhappy with compensation and recognition: Survey

  • An overwhelming 91% of the respondents believe a hybrid pay model comprising fixed pay and incentive or bonus, will motivate them to work better, and ensure more ownership

Lata Jha
Updated2 Jun 2023
More than half of the writers expressed dissatisfaction with the credit they receive for their work.
More than half of the writers expressed dissatisfaction with the credit they receive for their work.

New Delhi: A substantial number of India's entertainment writers continue to feel undervalued and underpaid, despite increased remuneration and visibility, thanks to the proliferation of streaming services.

Around 65% believe pay levels have improved in recent years, but 63% still consider their compensation inadequate. Timeliness of payments is also a significant concern for 47% writers, according to a survey by media consulting firm Ormax and talent agency Tulsea.

The study, titled "The Right Draft: 2023", is based on feedback from 217 film and series writers in India. Writers working across Hindi, English and four south Indian languages were interviewed between January and March 2023.

An overwhelming 91% of the respondents believe a hybrid pay model comprising fixed pay and incentive or bonus, will motivate them to work better, and ensure more ownership. However, only a minority of 31% have experienced such an employment contract.

More than half of the writers expressed dissatisfaction with the credit they receive for their work. This discontent extends to their representation in marketing and promotional efforts, where dissatisfaction rates range between 65% and 80% for different types of promotional activities.

According to the writers, there is a marked difference in the importance scripts carry over stars in the theatrical and OTT segments. Around 90% writers believe theatrical business values stars over scripts, while the view is a lot more balanced for the OTT industry, though still leaning away from scripts and towards stars. A large section of writers believes that they do not have adequate access to mentoring, infrastructure, grievance redressal, and other such industry forms of support.

Nearly 74% writers believe that writers’ rooms are a collaborative method, leading to a better quality of output. However, the experience of writers with writers’ rooms thus far has been mixed. When asked if they had considered becoming a director or a producer at some point of time, 91% writers answer in the affirmative, including 26% who have already made this transition, while they continue to write.

“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 audience are more demanding of good stories than ever before. Yet, the writers have struggled to get their due. This report is aimed to capture the perception of the writers’ community in India, on a wide range of topics,” Datta Dave, co-founder, Tulsea, said in a statement adding that the topic is more relevant globally than ever before, given what the world is seeing in Hollywood with the writers’ strike going on indefinitely.

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