Press release: Estonian screenwriters establish own guild

In mid-August, Estonian screenwriters established Estonian Screenwriters Guild (ESG), a long overdue trade organisation with an aim to develop the field by bringing together professional screenwriters, script editors and theorists, to promote screenwriters’ work and protect authors’ rights.

The founding members of the Guild were screenwriter and lecturer Margit Keerdo-Dawson, screenwriters Andris Feldmanis, Leana Jalukse, Lauri Lippmaa, and Laura Raud who also became members of the board with Keerdo-Dawson as chair.

The number of working screenwriters in Estonia who create stories for film and television has grown significantly during the past two decades. The Guild’s goal is to develop the field by improving screenwriters’ working conditions and promoting their work and visibility as creators. ‘We need a shared understanding of the screenwriter’s role as one of the main authors of an audio-visual work. At the same time, it’s important for writers to be aware of their rights,’ said Keerdo-Dawson. ‘It will increase security and encourage screenwriters’ dedication to their field.’

One of the first tasks of the Guild is to work on authors’ contracts and define forms of creative collaboration. ‘A film is a collective work of art and we can’t advance the field by ourselves,’ said Jalukse. ‘Therefore, we believe that collaboration with producers and directors is essential to clarify the responsibilities and needs of each party in creative relationships.’

The ESG encourages the development of unique voices and screenwriting talents in Estonia. The board plans to offer members opportunities for training, events for the exchange of ideas and experiences, to invite experts and theorists from abroad, and bring together screenwriters and representatives from other fields.

The Guild will run a platform called Sahtel (’drawer’) – an online database of screenwriters’ profiles and pitch-pages. ‘We hope that Sahtel will help build connections between writers and producers who can find stories for films, TV series, and other media such as cross- media projects,’ said Lippmaa. ‘Storytelling is needed in far more areas than people assume. There are many opportunities for screenwriters.’

Contact ESG for more information