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INDUSTRY Europe

Groundbreaking study reveals creators struggling to make ends meet

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- The preliminary results from the first Europe-wide piece of research on EU audiovisual authors’ remuneration is considered a wake-up call by FERA and FSE

Groundbreaking study reveals creators struggling to make ends meet

The initial results from the first-ever comprehensive, Europe-wide piece of research aimed at mapping out the economic and social situation for European audiovisual authors paint a rather sobering picture of the brutal economic reality faced by creators in the European audiovisual sector.

The study, conducted by a team from the University of Ghent, and based on an online survey carried out by the FERA (Federation of European Film Directors) and FSE (Federation of Screenwriters in Europe) networks, taking into account 3,217 respondents (1,072 screenwriters, 1,474 directors and 745 other audiovisual authors from 26 European countries), reveals that in an industry with a turnover higher than €100 billion a year, the majority of creators who produce the copyright goods on which it is built, 85% of whom are freelancers, have extremely unstable and modest incomes (an average of €18,000 from their work after tax, with an additional €2,000 coming from secondary sources, including collective management organisations, or CMOs), and this is in spite of most of them having had a higher education. 

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This means that they are forced to look for other work (half of the authors indicate that they would not survive without a secondary activity), either within the industry (50%) or outside it (34% of directors and 42% of screenwriters), especially as income peaks at the age of 50, only to drop again later. And it goes without saying that the trade is also affected by gender disparity. 

The situation is exacerbated by the weak bargaining power of audiovisual authors, as they remain highly motivated despite a dire lack of job security, as shown by long working hours being the norm and the significant amount of unpaid work being done, especially during the development phase (60% of development work is unpaid for directors, 56% for screenwriters).

The first results summary leaflet and the study’s first results presentation are both available online. The study will be published in full next September, but as the Copyright Directive discussions have now entered a critical phase at the European Parliament, the commissioning organisations are already calling on EU policymakers to take a stand and secure effective measures to ensure a fair and proportionate remuneration for European audiovisual authors, and thus a sustainable future for European audiovisual creation.

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