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Obituary: Robert Adams 1944-2014

on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 09:02. Posted in General

Robert 2jpg

 Robert V. Adams, Chair of the WGGB Books Committee from 2004 to 2009, and also a member of the Guild’s Executive Committee, died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 70.

He had a marvellous career, starting work as a gardener, hotel cellarman and prison officer at Pentonville, but before long becoming governor of a young offenders' institution, resigning to become director of a Barnardo's community project keeping young people out of the criminal justice system. He became an academic and held several professorial positions relating to social work.

Robert Adams edited and wrote many books about crime, protest, empowerment, social work and complementary health. But he also wrote children’s books, poetry, short stories and novels, under different names. His novel Antman was published in 2005 and is a psychological thriller about a man who uses ants to kill people. He also wrote the crime novel The Really Dreadful Crime Company and was a member of the Crime Writers' Association.

Many of his books are centred on Hull and East Yorkshire, where he lived with his wife Yasmeen in a house they designed and built, with a garden running into unspoilt woodland, on the outskirts of the ancient town of Hessle, a stone's throw from the Humber Bridge.

As Chair of the WGGB Books Committee, Robert was enthralled by the possibilities of new technology in publishing, and his big project was to set up the Writers’ Guild Books Co-operative, intended to help authors to publish their own works as ebooks and by print-on-demand. Unfortunately the project foundered, as most participants wanted the WGGB to be their publisher, rather than participating in a true co-operative, which was Robert’s vision.

But even when he became ill, Robert was still enthusiastically working out new ways to regenerate the idea of the co-operative.

WGGB General Secretary Bernie Corbett said: “Only a few months ago Robert was phoning me and emailing me, keen to get working on some new projects. We have lost a truly original and committed author. Everybody who knew him in one part of his multi-faceted life is amazed to learn how many other lives he was leading simultaneously. What an inspiring colleague we have lost.”

Robert Adams’s funeral will take place at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 16 January 2015 at Haltemprice Crematorium, Main Street, Hull HU10 6NS. Afterwards, Tranby Lane, Anlaby, for burial; at 3 p.m. a reception at the East Riding Rooms on the Weir in Hessle.

Sheila MacLeod, former Chair of WGGB, said of Robert V. Adams:

"I was really saddened to learn of the death of Robert Adams, whom I knew from the Books Committee, of which he was Chair for several years – beyond the call of duty, it seemed to me.

"We had a really good committee (again it seems to me) in that we all liked and respected one another. Robert was the sort of person you instinctively trusted to take charge, whatever the situation might be. And whatever that situation might be, his integrity shone through and won the day.

"We did argue, but nothing ever got nasty or out of hand, thanks to the ever-temperate and judicious supervision of our Chair. Being of a more cynical turn of mind than Robert (and having been lobbied by many of our me-me-me members), I felt from the beginning that the publishing co-operative wasn't going to work, but I really regret for his sake and for all the others who got involved that it foundered.

"On a personal level (which in fact probably comes down to a few conversations in the pub along with other colleagues after our meetings) I have to say that Robert was consistently sympathetic, responsive and friendly. I may have made him sound humourless in being such a good person (which he undoubtedly was) but in fact he was always witty and that twinkle in his extraordinarily blue eyes had us all captivated.

"RIP, cher collègue. I'm glad and privileged to have known you."

 

West Midlands Writers’ Guild condemns Birmingham Library cuts

on Monday, 15 December 2014 09:28. Posted in General

The West Midlands Writers’ Guild has joined library staff, visitors and campaigners in condemning planned cuts to the new Library of Birmingham, which opened last year.

The plans, announced by Birmingham City Council last week, would mean the loss of around 100 staff, and opening hours cut from 73 to 40 hours a week.

"In its short time, the Library of Birmingham has become a huge focus for every kind of artistic, educational and media work that goes on in this exciting and vibrant city,” said Writers' Guild West Midlands regional representative William Gallagher. “You can't make a building be important but when it is, when it has become vital, you can easily throw all of that away.

"A Library of Birmingham that is staffed, open and used to the potential we were promised and that we have seen in action is a cause for civic, artistic and regional pride. A library that is closed is a defeat.

"That we have to fight for the library after only a year is an excoriating embarrassment for Birmingham. But that we will fight, that the writers and artists and public of our city are fighting for the library, is testament to what this building and its staff mean to us."

The £188-million library is Europe’s largest and the Labour-controlled Birmingham Council said it had no choice but to press ahead with plans in the light of Government cuts, which have seen the number of libraries in the UK fall by 7.5% since 2010.

“As the largest and most visited public library in Europe the Library of Birmingham is not only of regional importance but of national and international importance too. It should be treated as such,” said Writers’ Guild Deputy Chair and Birmingham resident Tim Stimpson.

“At a time when Manchester has just been awarded £78 million by central Government for a new ‘flexible art space’ it is not acceptable that Birmingham’s cultural sector has been left to fend for itself yet again.

“The West Midlands Writers’ Guild calls on the region’s citizens, its institutions and interest groups to come together to demand that the Library of Birmingham is given the financial support it requires.”

To get involved, contact West Midlands Writers' Guild regional representative William Gallagher by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Mike Leigh and other Guild members out in force at BFI London Film Festival

on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 09:56. Posted in General

Writers’ Guild member Mike Leigh’s much-anticipated Mr. Turner receives a gala screening at the 58th BFI London Film Festival, which runs from 8-19 October 2014.

The portrait of the artist JMW Turner is played by Timothy Spall, who won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year for the role. The film focuses on the last 25 years of Turner’s life when his painting moved towards the Impressionist style for which he became remembered. It also probes the colourful life of a character who famously strapped himself to the mast of a ship so he could paint a snow storm.

Writer/director Mike Leigh has described Turner as "a great artist: a radical, revolutionary painter… I felt there was scope for a film examining the tension between this very mortal, flawed individual, and the epic work, the spiritual way he had of distilling the world."

The UK release date is set for 31 October 2014.

The BFI London Film Festival will bring 248 films to 17 venues across the capital over 12 days. It will feature screenings on themes including love, family, treasures, cult and thrill; and competitions, including the Best Film Award and First Feature Competition.

Other Writers’ Guild members whose work is being shown at the Festival include Gregory Burke ('71), Joe Fisher (Electricity), Leslie Stewart (Moomins on the Riviera) and Jack Thorne (War Book).

The full programme, including bookings, can be viewed here.

Animation writing fees: what should you charge?

on Thursday, 02 October 2014 08:35. Posted in General


In the UK a script fee of at least £300 per minute (£3,000+ for a 10-minute script) should be negotiated. This is the conclusion of Guild officers, writers and agents following a recent project with Guild animation writers to rewrite the Guild guidelines on animation.

Part of the research included surveying UK animation writers about the fees they earned for writing both in the UK and internationally.

Below is a snapshot of the fees paid to animation writers for a 10/11-minute script.

Countries Range (£s)

Australia: 1,500-2,500
Benelux: 1,500-3,501+
France: 1,250-3,000
Germany: 2,000-2,250
Ireland: 2,000-2,500
Scandinavia: 1,500-2,500
SE Asia: 800-2,250
UK: 800-3,501+
US: 2,000-3,501+

The survey results above indicate that there is a huge variation in the fees paid to writers nationally and internationally. This can be attributed in part to the lack of collective agreements that set out minimum terms. In the absence of minima, aim for the maxima!

In the UK if a writer is contracted to write an episode, this will generally be on a buyout contract. This means the writer sells all their rights to their work with no rights to royalty or residuals payments, so the script fee is the only money the writer will earn and should be negotiated at £300+ per minute.

Unlike other sectors in the UK, there are no collective agreements in place to protect and improve terms under which animation writers are contracted. To open dialogue with animation producers, the Guild, in conjunction with the Personal Managers' Association (agents), will be sending out a joint best practice briefing to animation producers/broadcasters in the UK. The guidelines and the joint briefing are available for download in the Rates and Agreements section of our website. Or if you would like a hard copy of our Animation Guidelines booklet, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Colin Shaw CBE 1928-2014

on Thursday, 02 October 2014 08:24. Posted in General

Colin Shaw wrote many radio plays and features, and a stage play for children. But his impact on writers’ lives was bigger than that, because from 1953-1977 he worked at the BBC, starting as a radio drama producer and going on to be Assistant Head of Programmes, North Region, and Head of Programme Planning Group, BBC Television. He ended his time at the BBC as Chief Secretary to the Board of Governors.

From 1977-83 he was Director of Television for the Independent Broadcasting Authority. From 1983-87 he was Director, Programme Planning for ITV Companies' Association. He was Founding Director of the Broadcasting Standards Council from 1988-96.

And even when he retired from such elevated positions, he carried on his work on behalf of writers as one of the chief negotiators with the BBC for the Society of Authors, co-operating closely with the Writers’ Guild, of which he was also a member.

Colin Shaw was also a Governor of the English-Speaking Union, 1977-83; a Member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1977-80; and in 1987 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Television Society.