Discover more from The Ankler.
DGA-WGA in War of Words: 'Transparent Attempt at Face-Saving'
A new DGA member email sparks disdain in its response to the WGA deal
Pointing a finger at “misguided” news coverage and social media reactions to the directors’ new three-year contract, the Directors Guild of America sent a memo to members earlier today, Oct. 11, defending the deal’s “extraordinary gains” as the writers strike concludes and SAG-AFTRA returns to the negotiating battleground with Hollywood’s major studios.
The DGA touted several achievements from its contract, ratified in June, including wage increases, a 76 percent increase in foreign residuals and language concerning the use of generative AI.
“We achieved these hard-fought gains because of our unity and resolve, and the more than a year and a half of research and preparation that preceded the start of our formal negotiations, as well as the support we received from our sister Guilds and Unions,” reads the DGA email. “The misguided articles and social media posts that seek to misrepresent our contract and sow division between the Guilds only benefit the studios and streamers. We can be proud of our contract and at the same time continue our firm support of our sister Guilds and Unions in the fights for their own fair deals.”
The guild — notably the only one of the big three that did not go on strike this summer — has been under scrutiny on social media from some writers and actors. (Press coverage, for what it’s worth, has been comparatively tame.) The memo comes two days after the Writers Guild of America ratified a new three-year contract following an historic 148-day strike that gained more ground than industry observers imagined: staffing minimums, viewership-based streaming bonuses, and more rigorous AI protections, among other things.
“This is a lame, transparent attempt at face-saving by DGA leadership,” one writer tells me. “They fucked up. They know it, their membership knows it, and the town knows it.”
A DGA spokesperson shared the following statement after this story was published: “Our communication to our members speaks for itself. We are simultaneously proud of what we achieved in our negotiations and steadfast in support of our sibling Guilds in their fight for the best possible deal for their members.
(The full DGA email to members is below.)
“Lame. If you have to tell your members you got a deal, I mean come on,” echoes another writer, adding that “I’m pretty sure they left stuff on the table that we got.”
Consensus among industry insiders seems to be that the memo might be in reaction to some internal consternation among DGA membership. The DGA did not respond to request for comment.
“I think it’s obvious to everyone in town that the DGA could have gotten more by going on strike or at least taking a SAV (strike authorization vote). And the email almost reads as an acknowledgment of that,” says one insider. “The DGA’s philosophy has been for 40 years that strikes don’t work, that they can do better by being the teacher’s pet union that plays along with the AMPTP.”
SAG-AFTRA, meanwhile, continues to be on strike after initiating a work stoppage in mid-July, and is back in the negotiating room with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for the second week in a row.
Here’s the full email from the DGA to membership:
DGA MEMBER UPDATE
We are extremely proud of the contract we negotiated and you overwhelmingly ratified earlier this year. That's why we've been discouraged to see a number of recent news articles and social media posts misrepresenting the extraordinary gains we made.
The bottom line is that we negotiated an excellent agreement for our members which contains advancements impacting every category of member in our Guild, secures our economic and creative rights and prioritizes safety and diversity. Everything we won in our deal is focused on building for the future, adapting to the massive changes in our industry and making sure we can all continue to share in the success of what we create. We will be rolling out more specific information in the weeks ahead about the implementation of the following gains.
Our achievements include a number of industry firsts, including a new structure for foreign streaming that will result in a 76% increase in foreign residuals and sets us up to benefit from the explosive growth of streaming around the world. We also established the industry's first-ever terms and conditions for high-budget non-dramatic programs made for SOD and significantly increased the number of programs that will now pay residuals, and we became the first union to negotiate compensation, minimums, and creative rights for original dramatic programs made for AVOD. And we were the first union to negotiate artificial intelligence protections that guarantee that generative Al cannot be used to perform your jobs.
In addition to these industry firsts, we also negotiated the largest wage increases in over 30 years, strengthened our health and pension plans, funded a parental leave program, banned the use of live ammunition on set, created the first-ever collectively-bargained pilot program for independent safety advisors on set, established Juneteenth as an additional paid holiday and expanded important diversity and inclusion advancements.
With respect to DGA-specific gains - feature directors will now receive compensation for soft prep which can result in an additional $50K in compensation per project. Episodic television directors also achieved breakthrough creative rights gains and for the first time will be paid for post-production. The addition of two paid post days plus the additional guaranteed shoot day results in a 28% compensation increase for most one-hour series made for Pay TV or SVOD. In addition, we enhanced restrictions on the use of electronic transmission from set and increased director participation in casting.
For Assistant Directors, we established a one-hour reduction in the workday with no reduction in pay which will either result in shorter workdays or significantly increased extended-day payments. And AD/SMs will now receive double-time for work on holidays and seventh days.
We achieved these hard-fought gains because of our unity and resolve, and the more than a year and a half of research and preparation that preceded the start of our formal negotiations, as well as the support we received from our sister Guilds and Unions.
The misguided articles and social media posts that seek to misrepresent our contract and sow division between the Guilds only benefit the studios and streamers. We can be proud of our contract and at the same time continue our firm support of our sister Guilds and Unions in the fights for their own fair deals.
We welcome the news that members of the WGA have ratified their contract with the AMPTP and congratulate the WA Negotiating Committee and Board for reaching a forward-looking agreement that will benefit their members. Now there are two Guilds who are happy with the advances they've made.
We also continue to support SAG-AFTRA in their fight to win a fair deal on behalf of their members. We hope they will soon be the third.
And we will be there for the I.A.T.S.E. and Teamsters in their fights next year.
We know the last few months have not been easy. We hear from members every day that being out of work for so long has taken a toll. We know you have faced significant adversity in the form of professional uncertainty and economic hardship. We will continue to offer you support for as long as necessary.
We are fortunate to work in an industry where so many of us benefit from the protection of strong unions. As this year's collective bargaining cycle continues, we will keep you informed and updated.
We all look forward to getting back to doing what we love - working together to create the stories that entertain and enlighten billions of people around the world.