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Directors Guild of America reaches ‘historic’ three-year deal with US studios

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has reached a new deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Jon Avnet (photo: Art Directors Guild via CC)

The tentative three-year deal, which must be approved by the DGA’s national board on Tuesday before becoming official, was hailed as “historic” by the union.

Negotiations between the DGA and AMPTP, which represents the studios in labour negotiations, began on May 10 and concluded on Saturday night.

While details of the new deal remain under wraps, the DGA said it “achieves major breakthroughs in addressing the international growth of the entertainment industry and makes significant gains across key economic and creative rights while reaffirming the critical role of DGA directors and their teams.”

Specifically, the DGA said the new contract will see increases to wages including a 5% rise in the first year of the contract, 4% in the second and 3.5% in the third; an agreement confirming that artificial intelligence “is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members”; and a “substantial increase” in the residuals for dramatic programmes made for SVoD that includes a new structure for foreign residuals.

The latter update will mean that, for the first time, global SVoD residuals will be paid based on the number of international subscribers, rather than those just in the US. That will result in a “76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms so that residuals for a one-hour episode will now be roughly US$90,000 for the first three exhibition years,” said the DGA.

In addition, the DGA said the new deal will include expanded on-set safety protocols, including the banning of live ammunition on set, improvements in diversity and inclusion, and a one-hour reduction to the length of the working day for assistant directors.

The fact the DGA has agreed a new deal with the AMPTP slightly weakens the position of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been on strike since May 2. However, leadership at the WGA has vowed to continue with its strike regardless of whether other unions reach deals with the AMPTP. Before the DGA and AMPTP reached their agreement, there was a possibility that the writers, directors and actors could all be on strike at the same time.

That is no longer a possibility, although actors’ union SAG-AFTRA is preparing to begin negotiations over its own deal with the AMPTP on June 7. The union has already issued a strike authorisation vote, with the polling set to close at 17.00 PT on Monday.

Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s negotiations committee, said the DGA’s deal was “truly historic.”

DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter added: “This deal recognises 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.

“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.”

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