Thomas Schlamme, the president of the Directors Guild of America who was first elected in 2017, will step down from his role next month.
Schlamme announced his departure in a farewell letter posted on the DGA website and sent to members as part of a monthly magazine. He’ll exit his role on Sept. 18 at the DGA’s upcoming Biennial Convention, at which point elections for a new president will be held.
Schlamme was initially elected to a two-year term in 2017 and was re-elected for his second term in 2019. While there’s no concrete rule about how many terms a president can serve, it’s been a tradition that presidents serve no more than two terms.
“I will be stepping down at our upcoming Biennial Convention – and look forward to a new voice leading us. And though this letter is a goodbye of sorts, more than anything it is filled with gratitude to this sacred institution of folks standing up for one another – much like Marty [Scorsese] did for me many years ago. Some of you are still strangers that I share an immense bond with like in those dark palaces … and some of you are like family in my living room,” Schlamme wrote.
In his farewell note, Schlamme reflected on negotiations in 2017 for SVOD residuals for filmmakers, how the DGA responded in the #MeToo movement to keep filmmakers and crews safe and free from harassment, his work in negotiating terms for the latest contract with the AMPTP and finally how the DGA worked to bring the industry back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was at this exact moment that the world as we knew it was turned on its head. Overnight, we were faced with near total unemployment across our membership. As we contended with this unimaginable pandemic, the senseless murder of George Floyd ignited a powerful racial reckoning, and a clarion call for change not only in our nation but also within our Guild,” Schlamme said. “There was no playbook for what we faced. But with our strong foundation beneath us, we looked deep within ourselves to meet these moments together.”
Schlamme also recalled approaching Martin Scorsese to have him sign his application to officially join the DGA, as well as his choice to pursue a leadership role after getting to know former president Michael Apted, who died last year.
Schlamme is known as a director and producer who has collaborated frequently with Aaron Sorkin on “The West Wing” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” and he also directed the 1993 film “So I Married an Axe Murderer” with Mike Myers. He’s won nine Emmys and five DGA awards throughout his career.