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“Fight for your rights, and your crazy ideas,” say young creators at the latest SAA event


Young audiovisual authors are demanding fair compensation from streamers, and are finding CMOs helpful when pursuing their work and maintaining their artistic freedom

“Fight for your rights, and your crazy ideas,” say young creators at the latest SAA event
A moment during the panel

On 27 April, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), in partnership with the European Parliament’s Cultural Creators Friendship Group, organised the 80-minute event “Young Creators Have Rights, Right?” on the occasion of the European Year of Youth and World IP Day. The talk, moderated by Paige Collings, saw the participation of several young European filmmakers and YouTubers, who shared their experiences and concerns with a number of MEPs.

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The speakers were Freya Hannan-Mills (British writer-director), Kevin Tran (French YouTuber), Paula Sánchez Álvarez (Spanish screenwriter) and Aleksander Pietrzak (Polish writer-director) along with MEPs Laurence Farreng (Renew/France), Niklas Nienaß (Greens/Germany) and Tomasz Frankowski (EPP/Poland). Cécile Despringre, executive director of the SAA, also joined the talk and provided her own expertise on audiovisual authors’ rights.

One of the main takeaways was about the nature of the creative professions, which are very different from a nine-to-five job. Hannan-Mills, only 18 years old, already writes, acts, directs and produces, driven by her strong passion and hoping to earn a living from her work. Sánchez Álvarez highlighted how “there is a lot of invisible creative work that cannot be measured”. Tran, one of the most successful French YouTubers, pointed out how hard it is to ask for financial support for professional equipment or for a mortgage, for example, as many struggle to consider his activity a real job.

Later, Tran and Pietrzak explained how receiving royalties from their collective management organisations (CMOs) has allowed them to continue their job and uphold their artistic freedom. Tran, for example, spends all of his YouTube- and ad-related earnings on producing new content, and he lives off SACD’s royalties and a manga he released in 2016.

Pietrzak praised the role of CMOs in providing legal support, as “when you are young, you do not have the money for lawyers. […] Royalties are not only important when you are young; as royalties stay with us 70 years after we die, it is therefore also a form of insurance for our family and children,” he added.

Hannan-Mills and Sánchez Álvarez have benefited from the support of CMOs via networking and competitions, an aspect particularly important for creators coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, British CMOs Directors UK and ALCS helped Hannan-Mills to take part in the Film in the House competition, a parliamentary-based film and scriptwriting contest for students and independent filmmakers based in the UK, whilst Sánchez Álvarez discovered DAMA as a student when attending screenwriting events organised or sponsored by the Spanish CMO, through which she was offered a year of personalised tutoring with a professional screenwriter.

Another important topic covered by the panel revolved around the impact of streaming platforms on the payment of royalties. Pietrzak warned that these players are getting too big and made a final call for fair compensation. He argues that as long as young creators are not being fairly remunerated, they will struggle to create their content and maintain their artistic freedom. Thus, a healthy environment could contribute to defending European culture. Tran agreed and acknowledged the need to co-exist with streamers, but also with online players such as YouTube, wherein “veterans” (creators who have a lasting presence and are prolific) inject significant revenues. Sánchez Álvarez stated that, in any case and regardless of the type of media they work on, “authors should not be the last to be compensated”. “Intellectual property is a really important topic that needs to be talked about. People need to have that safety and security of their own intellectual property,” concluded Hannan-Mills.

You can watch the panel in its entirety here.

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