When the Directors Guild of America agreed to a new three-year contract with the major Hollywood studios last month, the union described the agreement as “unprecedented” and “historic.”
With screenwriters on strike and negotiations with the actors’ union still ongoing, the directors saw their deal as the first step on the road to labor peace in the entertainment industry. This included improvements to both the amount of pay and royalties that directors would receive from projects on streaming services, and it put guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence.
“The terms of the deal are definitely going to help other consortiums in the negotiations,” said Christopher Nolan, director of “Oppenheimer”. Said Hollywood Reporter.
It did not happen.
When the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, went on strike last week, directors found themselves as outsiders in Hollywood. Their union is the only union that has agreed to a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which bargains on behalf of the studios, and now they are unable to do any work because of the writers’ and actors’ strike. has shut down the industry. ,
“They agreed very quickly,” Peter Newman, producer and professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, said in an interview. “If they had guessed right, they could have seen that, almost always, the industry was going to shut down completely, regardless.”
Instead of viewing the directors’ contract as a blueprint, the actors’ union deemed it insufficient. The actors declared that the minimum raise the Directors Guild agreed upon was too low. While directors earned a significant increase in the residuals they received, mainly through a formula that accounted for international streaming subscribers, movies and television shows shared more data about how well they performed on their services. There was little progress in getting recalcitrant tech companies to commit.
The studio announced that the generative artificial intelligence is not “a person” and cannot perform the duties of a Directors Guild member. But his assurance that AI would not be used “in relation to creative elements without consultation with the director or other DGA-covered staff” was seen by many as weak and vague.
“Matrix” filmmaker Lily Wachowski, who is also a member of the Writers Guild of America, told Twitter she would not vote on the deal, specifically because of AI provisions in the proposed contract.
“I’m no boomer-luddite-foodie-duddy against the idea of AI as a tool,” she wrote, He added, “But what I strongly object to is the use of AI as a tool to generate wealth.” The same thing is at stake here. Cut jobs for corporate profit.”
Despite protests, the union’s membership ratified the agreement, with 87 percent voting in favor.
“We have struck a truly historic deal,” Jon Avnet, chairman of the Directors Guild’s negotiating committee, said in a statement on June 3.
Even now that actors have joined the writers on strike, some directors are happy with their contracts.
“I think we got one of the best deals we’ve got in decades,” said Bethany Rooney, veteran director of network television shows such as “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” “Chicago PD” and “Station 19.” an interview.
“I feel like they addressed all of our concerns and responded positively,” he added, “whether it was about base pay rates or residuals, or reporting on streaming numbers or AI for that matter. All of these got a response we could live with.
But as actors’ talks progressed and a strike grew more likely, the directors’ position as the only union to reach an agreement became more clear.
The Directors Guild has long been seen as a stable union. Formed in 1936 and currently representing 19,000 directors and members of the directing team, including assistant directors, unit production managers, stage managers and others, the union has rarely gone on strike. It once closed for three hours in 1987, the shortest strike in Hollywood history.
A common belief in Hollywood is that members of the Directors Guild are employed more consistently than members of other unions. And there can be tension between different unions.
Mr. Newman said, “There is a generational sense of lack of cooperation between them and the Writers Guild.” “There have always been differences between writers and directors. To some extent directors may think that they are the real driving force behind any film.
Yet Ms Rooney, who serves as an alternate on the Directors Guild’s national board, said she was not surprised that the actors had gone on strike.
He added, “They have some major issues, and the writers have major issues specific to them that are not the directors’ issues.” “They did not get the expected response from AMPTP, so they had no option but to go on strike. We are with him in all spirit.”
Still, it’s clear that the director wanted his deal to be in agreement with the actors and writers. And when this did not happen, the frustration was reflected in a statement by Directors Guild President Leslie Linka Glatter, when the actors said they would go on strike.
“The Directors Guild of America is deeply disappointed that AMPTP did not fairly and appropriately address the important issues raised by SAG-AFTRA in the negotiations,” he added. “During this important and difficult time for our industry, the Directors Guild strongly supports the actors.”