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DGA strike thwarted? Guild reaches tentative agreement with AMPTP

In what must be seen as a major blow to solidarity with writers who have been on strike since early May 2023, the Directors Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP that will avoid a strike of its own.

The DGA’s new three-year collective bargaining agreement with studios appears to meet the guild’s demands for adequate compensation related to streaming residuals and international distribution of their work, as well as offering new creative rights protections (including against the intelligence artificial) and security issues.

The agreement has yet to be submitted to the DGA’s national board, but it includes these highlights:

  • A 76% increase on international residuals for work created for the largest platforms, so that an hour-long episode will now pay approximately $90,000 in residuals in the first three years.
  • A new parental leave allowance.
  • Terms and conditions established for directors (as well as associate directors and stage managers) on non-dramatic programs (variety and reality) made for streaming.
  • Recognition that “AI is not a person” and generative AI cannot replace actual directors.
  • New terms and conditions for directors (and production managers and assistant directors) working for free streaming services like Tubi, Freevee and Roku.
  • Compensation for the “soft prep” period for feature film directors.
  • Episodic filmmakers granted an extra guaranteed shooting day for an hour-long schedule.
  • Ban on live ammunition on set, as well as new requirements for safety supervisors and training.
  • Cutting the assistant manager’s day off by an hour.

“We have concluded a truly historic agreement,” said Jon Avnet, chair of negotiations at the DGA
Committee. “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 salaries, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity, as well as
ensure essential protections for our members on new key issues such as artificial intelligence –
ensure that DGA members are not replaced by technological advances. This deal would not
were possible without the unity of DGA members, and we are grateful for the fort
support from union members across the industry.

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“This agreement recognizes that the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and the essential
role of directors and their teams as we move towards that future,” said Lesli Linka Glatter,
President of the DGA. “Because every new technology brings about major changes, this deal delivers
that each of the 19,000 members of the DGA can share in the success we all create together”.

When the DGA made a similar deal in January 2008, it was believed to be a move to force the then-surprising Writers Guild of America to settle its demands on the studios in a way less satisfactory to its membership. However, SAG-AFTRA has not announced any deal with the studios in renegotiating its collective bargaining agreement, which is likely to be more burdensome than the DGA’s given the critical threat from AI to actors’ rights to their own image and performance. It is possible therefore that the DGA agreement does not have the same effect in pushing writers to accept a lower agreement.