The Directors Guild of America is continuing negotiations with the AMPTP as the companies hope to secure a deal that could play a part in ending the two-week-old writers’ strike.
Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America told its members on Monday that the guild is winning the “PR war” against studios, as members share their stories in the media.
“It seems like the whole world is on our side,” WGA East Vice President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen wrote in an email to members titled “Our Momentum Grows.” “The individual stories of members of our failing system – of getting by on ten weeks of work a year, residual checks amounting to pennies – are resonating with the public. They understand that we are losing the middle class American dream. We are not the elite. We are like them. We are them.
Cullen noted the solidarity among entertainment unions and said picketing by WGA members had disrupted industry events and productions. She also said that, based on earlier estimates, “the strike could cost around $30 million a day in lost studio production.”
The DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers agreed to a media blackout pending their negotiations, and both declined to comment. The talks began last Wednesday.
But according to sources who have heard of the talks second-hand, talks between the DGA and the AMPTP appear to be moving forward in a collaborative manner. “Calm,” is how one industry insider described the mood in the trading room.
These reports are consistent with the DGA’s reputation as a guild that views studios as partners rather than enemies. However, this does not mean that there will be no sticking points. The management of the DGA has expressed itself much more than in the past on what the administrators consider to be the important issues in this contract negotiation.
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The DGA is primarily focused on obtaining a residual streaming formula that would allow members to benefit from the growth of international subscribers. The current formula is based on the number of subscribers between the United States and Canada, with a bonus of 35% intended to take into account the international reach of the platforms.
The DGA is also focused on securing an outsized rise in minimums to account for the past two years of runaway inflation. Another key point concerns creative rights, as the guild seeks to “protect the role and vision of all directors, and, in particular, television directors.”
The guild said it also wants provisions on diversity, safe facilities and securing pension and health plans – none of which appear to be potential deal breakers for the AMPTP.
Assuming that the DGA reaches an agreement, in particular on flux residues, this formula could be applied to the WGA.
However, WGA leaders have previously advised members not to expect an agreement with the DGA to resolve the strike, as happened in 2008. The DGA does not focus on issues centered on writers, like the size of the TV room, that would still remain unresolved. The DGA is also not believed to be looking for a performance-based residual increase for hit shows, which has been one of the WGA’s requests.
The WGA is planning a Zoom meeting for members on Thursday.