Hollywood Directors Announce Contract Deal With Producers as Writers Strike Continues

WGA members picket outside Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles on May 10, 2023. (Credit: Anita Bennett)

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) reached a tentative contract agreement with producers this weekend, likely ending the threat of a strike.

In a news release Saturday night, the DGA said its deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) “achieves major breakthroughs” on key issues.

The three-year agreement includes wage increases of 5 percent in the first year, 4 percent and 3.5 percent over the next two years.

The deal also includes higher streaming residuals, improved safety measures, an assurance that artificial intelligence won’t replace duties performed by guild members, improvements in diversity and inclusion, and the addition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday, according to the DGA.

“We have concluded a truly historic deal,” said Jon Avnet, chair of the DGA’s Negotiations Committee. “It provides significant improvements for every Director, Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, Associate Director and Stage Manager in our Guild.”

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Producers have not yet commented on the agreement, but DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter said the deal offers “unprecedented gains.”

“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,” said Glatter. “The unprecedented gains in this deal are a credit to the excellent work, tenacity and preparation of our Negotiations Committee.”

News of the contract comes as the Writers Guild of America strike, which began May 2, enters its sixth week with no end in sight.

SAG-AFTRA is set to begin its negotiations with producers in the coming days. The guild asked its members to authorize a strike, with voting currently underway.

The DGA agreement will be submitted to the guild’s national board for approval on Tuesday, June 6.

Below are key details on the contract deal, per the guild’s website.

Wages and Benefits: Groundbreaking gains in wages and benefits including a 5% increase in the first year of the contract, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the third year. Additional 0.5% to fund a new parental leave benefit.

Global Streaming Residuals: Substantial increase in the residuals for dramatic programs made for SVOD by securing a new residual structure to pay foreign residuals. The result is a 76% increase in foreign residuals for the largest platforms so that residuals for a one-hour episode will now be roughly $90,000 for the first three exhibition years.

Artificial Intelligence: Groundbreaking agreement confirming that AI is not a person and that generative AI cannot replace the duties performed by members.

Non-Dramatic Programs: Established the industry’s first-ever terms and conditions for Directors and their teams on non-dramatic (Variety and Reality) programs made for SVOD. Improved residuals and for the first time, Associate Directors and Stage Managers will now share in the residuals.

High Budget AVOD Terms and Conditions: Achieved the industry’s first-ever terms, creative rights protections, working conditions and residuals for scripted dramatic projects made for free to the consumer streaming services such as Freevee, Tubi and Roku. Unit Production Managers and Assistant Directors will share in the residuals.

Feature Directors: Historic first-time compensation for the months of “soft prep” Feature Directors currently perform for free prior to the start of the Director’s official prep period.

Episodic Directors: For Pay TV and SVOD, Episodic Directors won expanded paid post-production creative rights; and gained an additional guaranteed shoot day for one-hour programs – the first additional day added in more than 40 years.

Reduction in Hours: Unprecedented reduction in the length of the Assistant Director’s day by one hour.