After less than a month of negotiations, the Directors Guild and Hollywood’s top studios and streamers have reached a tentative deal on a new three-year contract.
Details of the agreement between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) include gains in wages and benefits, streaming residuals, AI protection and more. (Full details are below.) Union leaders will have to spell out to members what they believe are the benefits and compromises in the contract in the coming days before members finally participate in a ratification vote. It is unclear when the ratification vote was set.
The new deal comes after the DGA and AMPTP sat all day at the negotiating table on Saturday.
“We’ve struck a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chairman of the DGA’s negotiating committee. “It offers significant improvements for every director, assistant director, unit production manager, assistant director, and stage manager in our Guild. During these negotiations, we made progress on wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, and provided essential protections for our members on new key issues such as artificial intelligence – ensuring that DGA members are not replaced through technological progress. 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.”
“This deal recognizes that the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and vital role of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” said Lesli Linka Glatter, president of the DGA. “As every new technology brings big changes, 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 outstanding work, tenacity and preparation of our negotiating committee. I am so proud of the phenomenal leadership and dedication of Negotiation Chair Jon Avnet, Co-Chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and our Chief Negotiator, National Executive Director Russ Hollander, and our 80+ member Negotiation Committee. I am also incredibly grateful to the DGA staff who have worked tirelessly over the past year and a half to achieve this excellent deal.”
The DGA began negotiations on 10 May with an unusually serious tone. Aside from the fact that a writers’ strike had broken out before the leaders entered the room, the workers’ group had been warning its 19,000 members for months that these rounds of talks with studios and streamers would be difficult and stray from the usual practice of closing well before contract expiration. negotiating, in the hope that this would give the negotiators more leverage. The union also appeared to be preparing to quickly mobilize its members by establishing an “outreach team” dedicated to handling internal communications and building unity.
“Every member of our union can be proud of the progress we have made across the board,” said Russell Hollander, national executive director of the DGA. “It is significant, and for the first time ever, that global SVOD residuals are paid based on the number of international subscribers. The result is a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest services. As our industry becomes increasingly international, these gains are imperative to ensure that our members are valued and rewarded for their incredible work.”
One of the key actions taken by the DGA in these talks was to establish a streaming residual that reflects the growth of streaming platforms worldwide. The union argued that its streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) residual is primarily based on the number of platform subscribers in North America, while the number of global subscribers counts less as employers pay a fraction of the domestic residual rate to compensate them .
The union also wanted to improve data transparency for studios and streamers, codify new safety and diversity, equity and inclusion measures, protect the union’s health and pension plan, raise wage floor limits, and support contractual creative rights for members.
If the DGA were to make significant progress on things like streaming residues and/or data transparency, the deal could have some minor ramifications for the ongoing writers’ strike. The Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2 following that union and the AMPTP was unable to reach agreement on a range of issues, including residuals and data transparency. A DGA deal could provide a template to compromise for the WGA on those specific points. Yet the latter union has largely tabled proposals (including many of the most important questions) that do not overlap with the DGA’s demands and it remains unlikely that DGA advances on residuals and data transparency would change the game for writers .
In a letter to members dated 1 June, the WGA reaffirmed its position that the AMPTP “will have to negotiate with the WGA on our entire agenda”, regardless of whether any of the other unions – i.e. the DGA – agree to a new contract.
On Wednesday, May 31, as the directors entered their final week of negotiations, a coalition of unions including the WGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters said in a statement that they “stand alongside our sisters, brothers and relatives in the DGA in their pursuit of a fair contract.” The group added: “As eyes around the world return to the negotiating table, we are sending a clear message to the AMPTP: our solidarity should not be underestimated. The Hollywood guilds and unions stand united, and we stand strong.”
DGA National Executive Director Russell Hollander led talks for the union, while AMPTP President Carol Lombardini led discussions for studios and streamers.
Here are details about the new contract:
· Wages and Benefits: Breakthrough 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. 0.5% extra to fund a new parental leave benefit.
Global Streaming Residuals: Substantially increase 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 the residuals for an hour-long episode are now about $90,000 for the first three years of exhibition.
Artificial intelligence: groundbreaking agreement that confirms that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace members’ tasks.
Non-Dramatic Programs: Established the industry’s first-ever terms and conditions for directors and their teams for non-dramatic (Variety and Reality) programs created for SVOD. Improved residuals and for the first time Associate Directors and Stage Managers will now share in the residuals.
AVOD conditions for a high budget. Achieves the very first terms, protection of creative rights, working conditions and residuals for scripted dramatic projects made free for consumer streaming services such as Freevee, Tubi and Roku. Unit production managers and deputy directors share in the residual flows.
Feature Directors: Historic initial fee for the months of “soft prep” Feature Directors currently perform for free prior to the start of the official director’s prep period.
Episode directors: For Pay TV and SVOD, episode directors won extensive paid creative post-production rights; and was given an extra guaranteed recording day for one-hour programs – the first extra day in over 40 years.
· Reduced Hours: Unprecedented reduction in the length of the Deputy Director’s day by one hour.
· Security: Concrete progress made on security, including the first-ever pilot program requiring the appointment of dedicated security supervisors; extensive safety training programs for both directors and their teams, and the ban on live ammunition on set.