DGA Insists It Got a Good Deal From Studios in New Memo to Members

Directors Guild of America members have criticized leadership after WGA wins

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In a memo to members on Wednesday, leaders of the Director’s Guild of America insisted that the studio deal it reached in June was a good one, despite growing criticism from members.

In the memo, first published by The Ankler, DGA leaders said:

“We are extremely proud of the contract we negotiated and you overwhelmingly ratified earlier this year. That’s why we’ve been discouraged to see a number of recent news articles and social media posts misrepresenting the extraordinary gains we made.

“The bottom line is that we negotiated an excellent agreement for our members which contains advancements impacting every category of member in our Guild, secures our economic and creative rights and prioritizes safety and diversity. Everything we won in our deal is focused on building for the future, adapting to the massive changes in our industry and making sure we can all continue to share in the success of what we create. We will be rolling out more specific information in the weeks ahead about the implementation of the following gains.”

“Our achievements include a number of industry firsts, including a new structure for foreign streaming that will result in a 76% increase in foreign residuals and sets us up to benefit from the explosive growth of streaming around the world. We also established the industry’s first-ever terms and conditions for high-budget non-dramatic programs made for SVOD and significantly increased the number of programs that will now pay residuals, and we became the first union to negotiate compensation, minimums, and creative rights for original dramatic programs made for AVOD. And we were the first union to negotiate artificial intelligence protections that guarantee that generative AI cannot be used to perform your jobs.”

“In addition to these industry firsts, we also negotiated the largest wage increases in over 30 years, strengthened our health and pension plans, funded a parental leave program, banned the use of live ammunition on set, created the first-ever collectively-bargained pilot program for independent safety advisors on set, established Juneteenth as an additional paid holiday and expanded important diversity and inclusion advancements.”

Responding to TheWrap’s request for comment on the heightened scrutiny around the contract just days after the Writers Guild of America ratified their historic negotiation and talks between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers continued Wednesday, a DGA spokesperson said, “Our communication to our members speaks for itself. We are simultaneously proud of what we achieved in our negotiations and steadfast in support of our sibling Guilds in their fight for the best possible deal for their members.”

The DGA and the AMPTP reached a tentative deal on June 4 without going on strike. Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee, said at the time, “We have concluded a truly historic deal. It provides significant improvements for every director, assistant director, unit production manager, associate director and stage manager in our guild.”

But as one filmmaker told Deadline in a story published Wednesday, the deal might not have gone far enough. “The WGA stayed out [on strike] to get what they wanted, SAG-AFTRA are still on strike to get what they want, feels like we settled way too fast,” they said. “Typical.”

Some members of the guild began voicing their concerns about the deal on June 12, especially about language that indicates studios cannot use AI “without consultation” with directors. This means that studios are not required to take out AI if a director doesn’t want it there.

Members of the DGA aren’t the only ones who smell a problem. As a writer told The Ankler, “This is a lame, transparent attempt at face-saving by DGA leadership. They f–ked up. They know it, their membership knows it, and the town knows it.”

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