DGA Wins AI Protections, Bans Live Ammo on Set in Tentative New Studio Agreement

Directors Guild members will be able to vote on ratification through June 23

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Directors Guild of America and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) sent out a 14-page summary of its tentative agreement with Hollywood studios to its members on Wednesday evening; members will now vote on whether to ratify the deal or not, with voting set to conclude June 23.

“In this new agreement, we were able to win many significant advancements…including essential protections regarding AI, expanded paid post-production for episodic directors, a new foreign streaming residuals structure based on subscribers, and banning live ammunition on sets,” said guild president Lesli Linka Glatter in a memo to members that accompanied the deal’s terms.

“What is particularly striking about the agreement is the depth of achievements made, providing significant new benefits for members in every category,” the memo continued.

The 14-page document, which can be read here, breaks down the gains, starting with a 13% compound increase in wages over the three years of the contract. This includes a 5% increase in the first year, the first time ever that has been negotiated in a DGA contract.

The document also says that generative artificial intelligence (GAI) “does not constitute a person” to whom duties performed by DGA members can be assigned to, and that employers may not use GAI “in connection with creative elements without consultation with the director or other DGA-covered employees. The DGA will also hold twice-yearly meetings with studios to discuss how AI will be used in the future.

Other benefits touted in the summary include the first ever guaranteed compensation for post-production work on TV shows as well as “soft prep” pay, which ensures pay of up to $5,000 per week for up to ten weeks once three named crew members are hired for a project. The DGA says that such “soft prep” pay marks the “first steps towards compensating directors for the signficant amount of free work performed prior to the official greenlighting of a project.”

But perhaps the most scrutinized element of the contract will be the negotiated increase in streaming residuals, which the DGA says “captures global [streaming] growth and ensures DGA members share in global distribution of their work.”

The DGA says that the largest streaming services will now pay $89,415 for the first three years of use of a one-hour TV series for an overall 21% increase and 76% increase for the foreign residual, while residual payments over three years for feature-length streaming films will increase 34% to $230,250. The guild also says that its new residual formula will allow for payments to keep growing as streaming services’ subscriber counts grow.

But what the residual formula won’t do is tie payment amounts to the number of viewers that see a film or TV show, an issue that was expected to be a part of not just the DGA’s talks with the AMPTP but also those of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA. Members of all three guilds have voiced their complaints about streamers not being transparent about viewership data, which the studios have been steadfast in keeping under wraps.

It remains to be seen whether the AMPTP will move to apply elements of the DGA contract such as wage increases or residual structures to its recently started contract negotiations with SAG-AFTRA or to talks with the striking Writers Guild of America whenever they agree to resume talks. Both guilds have said in memos to members that they will not be beholden to the terms negotiated with the DGA.

The DGA will keep the ratification vote open until Friday, June 23 at 6 PM.