Hollywood Directors Stand Apart From Actors’ and Writers’ Strikes

When the Directors Guild of America agreed to new three-year contracts with major Hollywood studios last month, it hailed the deal as “unprecedented” and “historic.”

With writers on strike and ongoing negotiations with the Actors’ Union, the directors saw the deal as a first step towards worker peace in the entertainment industry. This includes improvements in both the amount of wages and royalties directors receive from projects on streaming services, and puts guardrails on the use of artificial intelligence.

“Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan said, “The content of the agreement will certainly help other guilds in their negotiations.” Said Hollywood Reporter.

That didn’t happen.

When the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, went on strike last week, directors found themselves to be mavericks in Hollywood. Their union is the only union to have agreed to a deal with the Motion Picture and Television Producers Alliance, which negotiates on behalf of the studios, but with the industry shut down due to writers and actors striking, they are now unable to work anyway. Can not. .

“They agreed too early,” Peter Newman, a producer and professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, said in an interview. “If their guess is correct, they should have known that the industry would be shut down entirely anyway, almost without exception.”

Rather than seeing the directors’ contracts as blueprints, the Actors Guild deemed them inadequate. The actors declared that the minimum salary increase agreed upon by the directors’ union was too low. The residuals received by directors have increased significantly, largely due to a formula that takes into account international streaming subscribers, but they have a rebellious view of how well their movies and TV shows performed on their services. Little progress has been made in getting tech companies to share more data.

The studio has clarified that generative artificial intelligence is not a “person” and cannot take over the duties of a member of the Supervisors Guild. However, their reassurance that AI will not be used “in relation to creative elements without consultation with directors and other employees covered by the DGA” is weak and ambiguous to many. was seen as a thing.

“The Matrix” director Lilly Wachowski, who is also a member of the Writers Guild of America, explained on Twitter that she will vote against the deal, especially because of the AI ​​clause in the draft contract.

“I am not a Boomer Luddite Fadi Daddy against AI as a tool per se.” she wrote. “But what I am categorically against is using AI as a wealth-creating tool. “

Despite the protests, union members ratified the agreement with 87% voting in favor.

“We have entered into a truly historic deal,” said Supervisors Guild Negotiating Chairman Jon Avnet in a statement on June 3.

Some directors are still happy with their deals, even as their actors join the writers’ strike.

“I think we got one of the best deals in decades,” said Bethany Rooney, veteran director of network television shows like Law & Order: Organized Crime, Chicago PD and Station 19. said: interview.

“We feel they have addressed all of our concerns and responded positively,” she added. “Whether it was about base pay or residuals, or reports on streaming numbers or AI.

But as the actors negotiated and a strike became more likely, the directors’ position as the only guild to come to an agreement became clearer.

“Oh, did the DGA miss the moment? #WGA #sagafutrasays Chris Nee, creator of the animated children’s series Doc McStuffins. I have written on Twitter on the eve of the actors’ strike.

Supervisory unions have long been considered stable unions. Formed in 1936 and now representing 19,000 directors and members of the directing team, including assistant directors, unit production managers and stage managers, the union has rarely gone on strike. He went on strike once in 1987, the shortest three hours in Hollywood history.

In Hollywood, the general idea is that directors’ union members are more consistently employed than members of other unions. And tensions can arise between various trade unions.

“There’s a spirit of lack of cross-generational cooperation between them and the Writers Guild,” Newman said. “There have always been disagreements between the writer and the director. To some extent, the director may consider themselves the true driving force of the film.”

But Rooney, an alternate on the directors’ union’s national board, said he wasn’t surprised the actors went on strike.

“They have some big problems, and the writers have their own big problems that aren’t the director’s problem,” she said. “They didn’t get the reaction they needed from AMPTP, so they had no choice but to go on strike. We are with them in spirit.”

Still, it’s clear that the directors hoped the deal would lead to an agreement with the actors and writers. And frustration that it didn’t happen seeped through in a statement from directors’ union president Leslie Linka Glatter after the actors announced they were going on strike.

“The Directors Guild of America is deeply disappointed that AMPTP has not fairly and reasonably addressed the important issues raised by SAG-AFTRA in its negotiations,” she said. “The Directors Guild strongly supports our actors during this critical and difficult time for our industry.”

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