After revealing some early details about its tentative deal with studios and streamers on June 3, the Directors Guild of America has provided its members with a far more in-depth look at the pact, reached during a writers’ strike.
A summary of agreement sent to members of the 19,000-strong union on Wednesday provided some concrete information on the deal’s key gains and attempted to sell its merits to members, who will now have until late June to vote on the proposed agreement.
One of the deal’s hyped achievements is a new formula for foreign SVOD residuals that is based on platforms’ number of international subscribers. Thanks to the formula, the largest streaming services will be obligated to pay $89,415 in residuals for one-hour series for the first three years of use (representing a 76 percent increase in foreign residuals and a 21 percent increase in general). Global residuals for SVOD films with budgets of at least $13 million increased 34 percent to $230,250 for the first three years. And residuals for titles that remain on streaming platforms for 13 years increased to $168,773, a 28 percent rise.
No other specific examples were provided, but the union says the new formula “increases residuals on all platforms” and “builds for the future” as platforms that are gaining worldwide subscribers will necessarily have to pay DGA members more as a result. Additionally, the union claims that the deal’s highest-tier SVOD residual improves on its standard network series residual.
When it comes to the deal’s language on the regulation of artificial intelligence, the tentative contract specifies that generative artificial intelligence is not a person and that work performed by DGA members must be assigned to a person. Moreover, “Employers may not use GAI [generative artifical intelligence] in connection with creative elements without consultation with the Director or other DGA-covered employees” and top entertainment companies and the union must meet twice annually to “discuss and negotiate over AI.”
The guild also explained the deal’s new standard terms for free AVOD platforms, like Tubi and Pluto TV, which previously were negotiable. The agreement institutes minimum rates, compensation and “creative rights” for high-budgeted scripted shows made for these services with under 20 million subscribers, while residuals are 2 percent of the employer’s gross profit.
Episodic directors won certain creative rights as part of the deal, including notably gaining additional paid days in postproduction for high-budget SVOD and Pay TV series. Here, the DGA made a concession, agreeing to lower annual pay increases for episodic directors than the rest of their members (6.6 percent compounded over the course of the three-year agreement, as opposed to 13 percent) to achieve the paid days in post. These members can also have earlier notice to provide input on casting and receive digital copies of their episodes as part of the deal.
Feature directors, meanwhile, added pay of $5,000 per week for as many as 10 weeks to compensate for “soft prep” time (which kicks in once at least three crew members are employed), compensating a time period where helmers have long worked for free. The guild also extended the director’s-cut period for SVOD films with budgets of at least $22.5 million from four to 10 weeks, rendering it “equivalent” to that for theatrical features.
The guild enumerated on other provisions in the summary document (see below), including the establishment of the union’s first parental leave benefit, the agreement’s infusion of funding into the DGA’s pension and health plans and safety language.
“The Negotiations Committee and the Guild’s National Board unananimously — and enthusiastically — recommend that you vote YES for ratification of the Agreements,” Guild president Lesli Linka Glatter wrote in an email to members on Wednesday evening.
A ratification vote, where members will either give a green light to or reject the deal, begins Wednesday night and will conclude on Friday, June 23 at 6 p.m. PT.
The union — which represents not only its namesake role but also unit production managers, assistant directors, stage managers and others — reached its deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers close to midnight on June 3 after a full day of bargaining. It gave an overview of gains in the agreement to members at the time, revealing that the union’s hikes in compensation would be 5 percent in the first year of the contract, 4 percent in the second year and 3.5 percent in the third. These are slightly higher than usual, though they raised eyebrows at a time of explosive inflation. In its message on Wednesday, the DGA calls this wage hike the “highest 3 year wage increase in over 30 years.”
Longtime DGA national executive director Russell Hollander led negotiations for the union alongside negotiations chair Jon Avnet, co-chairs Karen Gaviola and Todd Holland and an over 80-member committee, while veteran AMPTP president Carol Lombardini headed up talks for the AMPTP. The DGA’s Thomas Schlamme and Nicole Kassell led the union’s talks on creative rights.