The well-known Belgian director Guillaume
Senez summed up the problems in his country during an interview with the Le
Soir newspaper. According to Senez, the risk of impoverishment is so high that
young people would have to seriously think about even entertaining the thought
of becoming a director. Senez made it clear that in most cases a director does
not enjoy a large income.
Even as an award-winning director, he
highlighted how quickly a person can be faced with impoverishment given an
ambiguous legal situation and a regulatory framework of support services that
is not targeted to specific groups. In his opinion, many politicians believe
that, of the one to three million euros that a European (non-Hollywood) film
costs, a significant part of the funding ends up in the hands of the director;
however, this is not the case. In fact, many directors are out of work. Their legal
situation is failing them.
Although Belgian’s social security system
covers self-employed persons, the status of directors is unclear, and the reality
is quite different. The prevailing principle of accumulating unemployment
benefits on the one hand and royalties for past endeavours on the other must be
done away with, because if royalties exceed €4,190.16 per year, these are
credited against benefits.
The reality of the job as a film director
is determined by a mix of work. Employment relationships are also usually
project-based and, unlike other jobs, are often measured in weeks rather than
years. The reality is that they have mixed types of incomes, such as the
royalties for rights and intellectual property, at least for successful
artists. According to Senez, the majority of Belgian film directors earn
between €20,000 and €30,000 gross per year. It would be almost impossible for a
family to live off this alone without additional social support.
He also called for the process of obtaining
‘Level III’ status as an officially recognised ‘artist’ to be simplified by
doing away with the current strict preconditions and proof requirements. After
all, according to Senez, culture accounts for around 4.8 percent of gross
domestic product in Belgium.