The Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced late Saturday night that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract.
“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director and Stage Manager in our Guild.”
“In these negotiations we made advances on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as securing essential protections for our members on new key issues like artificial intelligence – ensuring DGA members will not be replaced by technological advances. This deal would not have been possible without the unity of the DGA membership, and we are grateful for the strong support of union members across the industry.”
The deal comes three days before the AMPTP is set to begin negotiations with the actors union SAG-AFTRA and as members of the Writers Guild of America continue their strike after talks failed to produce a deal amidst multiple sticking points specific to writers.
The tentative agreement will now be presented to the DGA’s national board during a special meeting this Tuesday for approval, after which it will be up for a ratification vote by the guild’s members.
“This deal recognizes the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and essential role of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” said Lesli Linka Glatter, President of the DGA. “As each new technology brings about major change, this deal ensures that each of the DGA’s 19,000 members can share in the success we all create together.”
“The unprecedented gains in this deal are a credit to the excellent work, tenacity and preparation of our Negotiations Committee,” Linka Glatter continued. “I am so proud of the phenomenal leadership and dedication of Negotiations Chair Jon Avnet, Co-Chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and our Chief Negotiator, National Executive Director Russ Hollander, and our more than 80-member Negotiations Committee. I’m also incredibly grateful to the DGA staff, who worked tirelessly for the past year and a half to achieve this excellent deal.”
While details on the tentative agreement will not be disclosed until after the national board meeting, the DGA released an overview of the gains negotiated in the new contract, which includes a higher annual percentage increase in minimum rates than what the AMPTP offered to the WGA. The full list of topline gains can be read below.
- Wages and Benefits: Groundbreaking gains in wages and benefits including a 5% increase in the first year of the contract, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third year. Additional 0.5% to fund a new parental leave benefit.
- Global Streaming Residuals: Substantial increase in the residuals for dramatic programs made for SVOD by securing a new residual structure to pay foreign residuals. The result is a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms so that residuals for a one-hour episode will now be roughly $90,000 for the first three exhibition years.
- Artificial Intelligence: Groundbreaking agreement confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members.
- Non-Dramatic Programs: Established the industry’s first-ever terms and conditions for directors and their teams on non-dramatic (Variety and Reality) programs made for SVOD. Improved residuals and for the first time, Associate Directors and Stage Managers will now share in the residuals.
- High Budget AVOD Terms and Conditions. Achieved the industry’s first-ever terms, creative rights protections, working conditions and residuals for scripted dramatic projects made for free to the consumer streaming services such as Freevee, Tubi and Roku. Unit Production Managers and Assistant Directors will share in the residuals.
- Feature Directors: Historic first-time compensation for the months of “soft prep” Feature Directors currently perform for free prior to the start of the director’s official prep period.
- Episodic Directors: For Pay TV and SVOD, Episodic Directors won expanded paid post-production creative rights; and gained an additional guaranteed shoot day for one-hour programs – the first additional day added in more than 40 years.
- Reduction in Hours: Unprecedented reduction in the length of the Assistant Director’s day by one hour.
- Safety: Achieved concrete safety advancements including the first-ever pilot program to require the employment of dedicated safety supervisors; expanded safety training programs for both directors and their teams, and the ban of live ammunition on set.
When negotiations between the AMPTP and DGA began on May 10, they did so under a radically different backdrop than previous rounds of contract talks between the two sides. Along with taking place amidst a writers strike, these talks marked the first time since 2010 that the DGA was not the first union to begin talks with the AMPTP, as the Directors Guild announced earlier in the spring that the AMPTP was “not yet prepared to discuss our key issues.”
Streaming residuals were a major issue for the DGA, as it argued that studios needed to change the pay structure for its members to better reflect the increasingly global nature of streaming services such as Disney+ and Netflix. For those services and others with a large global subscriber count, residuals based on overseas streaming play for a one-hour TV episode will increase to $90,000 over the first three years of its streaming play, an increase of 76%.
Another major gain earned by the DGA is the ban of live ammunition on any production, a new rule that will be implemented following the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when a gun holding live rounds discharged while actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene while holding it. The DGA and AMPTP have also agreed to launch a pilot program to create a new position of dedicated safety supervisors to reduce the burden of responsibility for set safety on filmmakers.
The focus now shifts to SAG-AFTRA, which will begin talks with the AMPTP this Wednesday. The actors guild is expected to announce on Monday evening that its members have voted to authorize SAG-AFTRA leaders to order a strike any time after the June 30 contract expiration date if it is unable to reach a deal with the AMPTP.
As for the WGA, which released a joint statement of solidarity with the DGA alongside other Hollywood labor unions, this Directors Guild deal is unlikely to change much in its current impasse with the AMPTP, as the Writers Guild reasserted in a memo to members this past week that the studios will have to provide a counterproposal “on our full agenda” before they will agree to return to the negotiating table.