When the Directors Guild of America reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the AMPTP over the weekend, all eyes returned to the writers (now on strike for over a month) and actors, who will announce the results of their authorization to strike this week at the start of negotiations in the studio.
Conventional wisdom held that a DGA deal could serve as a framework for writers, just as it did in 2007-2008, when the DGA reached a deal on the 73rd day of the WGA’s 100-day shutdown. But both WC extension AND SAG AFTRA they clarified that the outcome of the DGA would have no impact on their negotiating plans.
“Thrilled that the DGA has been able to use the power of WGA industrial action to secure a deal that works for them,” writer and producer Amy Berg said in a tweet thread. “We proposed a number of these terms…before the AMPTP broke off negotiations to deliver a deal to the DGA. They will still not talk to us, offering them next to SAG. But we have needs in areas that they don’t and we will secure a deal that works for us. It’s not that.
“As a DGA member, this deal sounds great. As a member of the WGA, this agreement is proof that the AMPTP does not respect writers,” writer-director Travon Free added. “The fact that you can make a historic deal with people who can’t even do their job until the writers do theirs screams everything you need to know about AMPTP.”
According to a DGA-WGA indent who spoke to IndieWire, the deal stemmed from a deal done in good faith and will help other guilds get what they need.
“We know the crews are making sacrifices,” said the DGA insider. “We want everyone to go back to work, but go back to work on terms that work for them so they are satisfied and can pay their bills. So we knew we had to make a deal. We knew we had to make a good deal, and a good deal that would translate to the other guilds, and I’m really proud we did. So they can absolutely collect the earnings that we have, and then they can dive into the specific things that aren’t related to the DGA. Now they can focus on that.”
Negotiations between DGA and AMPTP have taken place at the Sherman Oaks Galleria for the past four weeks and concluded at midnight through Sunday morning. As announced over the weekend, directors will receive a 5% salary increase in the first year of their contract, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third, plus a 0.5% raise to fund a parental leave allowance. Annual increases in previous contract negotiations have typically hovered around 3%.
By comparison, the WGA has called for annual percentage increases of 6-5-5 and the AMPTP responded with a 4-3-2. On a full-percentage basis, the DGA settlement splits the difference, though some WGA members have noted online that those gains aren’t keeping pace with current inflation rates. The member said other DGA members are also “over the moon” about the deal and the minimum wage increases in particular.
The filmmakers also negotiated a 76% increase in foreign residuals for streamed shows, and the insider called the increase in studio data transparency “important.” No details were revealed about data transparency, which is also a WGA priority.
The DGA member said the AI language of the agreement, which says it cannot be considered a “person” or substitute for members’ work, represented a lot of negotiation by key power players and dashes. “I’ve never been in a negotiation where deals are made about things that we don’t fully understand yet,” they said. “So I’m really proud that everyone is rising to the occasion. This will shape the rest of our lives.”
The member continued, “We didn’t think we had to explain this. But hey, we’re explaining this to protect our industry, to protect our craft, and to protect our jobs.
There is dissent in every negotiation and more syllables bristling at learning of the deal from the press in the wee hours of the night. Some have even threatened to vote against the attempted agreement in solidarity with the WGA.
“This DGA deal is so disappointing to me,” “God’s Country” director Julian Higgins wrote on his Instagram story on Monday. “Setting aside the terms of the deal, which don’t seem to suit the threat or opportunity of the moment, this is the time to join hands with our fellow artists in mutual support and solidarity!! We rise and fall together. The way this was handled by DGA management meant that everyone I spoke to felt ignored and disrespected.”
“I would vote NOT to accept the DGA deal concluded and would ask that our guild’s acceptance of what has been negotiated be conditional on the WGA and SAG agreements also being worked out first,” ‘Moon’ director Duncan Jones tweeted.
That may change once the full terms are revealed. The tentative contract includes payment for the “soft-prep,” location scouting, casting, VFX work, and more that most directors usually do for free. Directors will have more of a say in the editing room, with unit production heads and assistant directors seeing the aftermath. The TV directors also got a guaranteed extra day of shooting to help the storytelling, as well as reductions in working hours and improved safety benefits (including an on-set ban on live ammunition, following the ‘Rust’ tragedy). .
Had the directors concluded negotiations this week without a deal – just as SAG-AFTRA begins negotiations – the DGA member believed it would have prevented further talks and put the industry in a difficult situation.
“Maybe I’m the only optimist, but I’m really not,” said the DGA member. “Many people truly believe that this has been the best thing for the DGA and the industry. They see that filmmakers who make this deal are better for the industry than filmmakers who fail to make a deal and go on strike, which would have really been a threat to the whole ecosystem. Strike can be very effective, but there is a limit to the effectiveness of a strike and we are all trying to figure out how best to help each of the unions get what they need.”