Directors seeking final cut in writing

Growing discord likely to change way producers, helmers deal with each other

SYDNEY — The Australian Screen Directors Assn. has vowed to fight for improved directors’ rights after four feature films in the past 18 months became battlegrounds for director-producer standoffs over creative differences.

Recently, producers Richard Becker and Barbi Taylor took over completion of sci-fier “Subterano” after canning helmer Esben Storm, who generated the concept. And “Cubbyhouse” producers David Hannay and Chris Brown recut the reel delivered by first-time horror-helmer Murray Fahey.

Two films backed by Beyond Intl., the Paul Mercurio starrer “Kick” and “A Wreck, a Tangle,” went straight to video after producer-director standoffs.

Richard Harris, ASDA exec director, says the oustings, formerly rare for the local industry, have come about due to rising stakes and the emergence of “creative producers.”

Harris says if producers, distribs or financiers don’t like the director’s cut, they are increasingly likely to panic and dump the director and assume creative control, rather than attempt further collaboration.

The growing discord is likely to change the way producers and directors deal with each other. Currently, contracts are drawn up ad hoc. They give the helmer no author rights and stipulate a date to deliver director’s cut.

The directors org has already begun negotiations with the Screen Producers Assn., with the goal, over the next six months, to develop a contract that gives directors a say in the final cut.

The producers org declined comment.

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