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'The King's Speech' writer David Seidler says he won't skirt the WGA again

January 4, 2011 |  4:30 pm

David seidlerDavid Seidler, the screenwriter behind "The King's Speech," has no ill will toward the Writers Guild of America  for its omission of his project due to eligibility rules. In fact, this was an outcome he was well aware of from the beginning of his work on "The King's Speech."

"I'm obviously a member of the WGA and I have been for 30 years," says Seidler. "I'm supportive of the guild. I've been on negotiating committees, been nominated three times and won an award. So I'm a union man, as it were."

However, to make this particular movie work, Seidler didn't use his WGA credentials to make his deals. Rather, it all began when Seidler first wrote "The King's Speech." He wrote both a screenplay and a stage play, but since the play was in better shape, the British producers optioned the play, a medium the WGA doesn't handle.

However, Seidler was asked by British producers See Saw Films and Bedlam Productions to write a new screenplay based on the play. Concerned how it might be perceived if a story about a recently deceased British monarch was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, producers wanted to keep all of the production in Britain. So Seidler, who was born in Britain and carries dual citizenship, agreed to pen the screenplay entirely in the United Kingdom and used only Brits to handle his contractual details. 

"The WGA told me that it is perfectly legal [as far as his WGA standing goes] to do the work outside the U.S. if you don't use your American lawyer or agent to negotiate the deal. That's what I did."

He continued, "I will never do it again. Now I know why the guild is there, to protect us, and I didn't get the protection I needed. You don't get residuals on DVD, or all the things the guild has struck and worked and fought for, for many years. You don't get that with the British contract."

You also don't get a WGA nomination. A harsh reality, but one that likely won't affect the film's chances for Oscar recognition, which doesn't follow the strict guild rules.

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: David Seidler. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times