The need for greater residuals and more diversity were some of the vital issues expressed by filmmakers tonight at the DGA Awards ahead of the guild’s talks with the AMPTP.
The DGA’s contract expires on June 30, the same day as SAG-AFTRA’s and two months after the May 1 expiration of the WGA’s contract.
Eric Appel — a first time nominee for the Roku movie Weird: The Al Yankovic Story — noted, on a personal level, that while he’s directed his fair share of television over the years and remembers “a time” when he was able to collect “a lot of residuals” for that work, revenue of the sort “does not really exist” when it comes to projects he’s taken on of late in the brave new world of streaming. “I definitely want [the industry] to just rethink how those residuals work, so it’s not one-and-done when you make your project,” said the director. “These things get sold and resold, and traded from streamer to streamer. I feel that we should get a piece of that, for sure.”
Judd Apatow, who is back tonight for his fourth go-round as host of the DGA Awards, agreed that “there’s all sorts of issues with how people are paid and residuals,” with Top Gun: Maverick DGA nominee Joseph Kosinski observing, like Appel, that “the whole landscape of how people are consuming media is changing, so making sure that the agreements keep up with that is important.:
“I’ve got a movie I’m prepping right now, so I’m just hoping everyone can come to an agreement soon,” said the director nominated tonight for Top Gun: Maverick, “so we don’t have to think about anything else, and [can] just get back to the business of shooting films.” Kosinski’s next movie from Apple Studios is an untitled Formula One racing movie starring Brad Pitt.
While Apatow also pointed out that there are “creative rights issues” at present “with how much time directors who work in television get to edit their episodes,” the only other filmmaker to point out a non-financial issue at hand for members of the Directors Guild was Sara Dosa, a first-time DGA Award winner tonight who is also up for an Oscar this year for her acclaimed documentary, Fire of Love.
The priority, for Dosa, in reflecting on the guild’s future, is making sure that it addresses the “systemic inequities” that “persist” within its ranks.
“I think that structural changes that can really support women and filmmakers of color are essential,” Dosa told Deadline tonight. “There’s a lot of performative talk but not a lot of structural support, and so I’d really like to see that inequity meaningfully rectified. I could go on and on about what that means, but that’s something that I’ve experienced personally, as a woman filmmaker, and it’s something I’ve seen my friends of color go through, and change is absolutely needed.”
Among the others speaking with Deadline ahead of tonight’s ceremony was Severance‘s Ben Stiller, who expressed solidarity with the WGA as they prepare for their own negotiations, albeit without discussion of specific policy change. “I just feel that the writers in Hollywood throughout history have always been the ones who deserve the acknowledgement,” said Stiller, “and we stand together as a union with them.”
The DGA in the last three bargaining cycles has gone before WGA and SAG-AFRTA. Which guild goes first is vital as it sets the pattern of negotiations for others to follow, even though each guild has their own needs. But issues such as annual pay raises and residual rates tend to be set by the first one at the bargaining table and generally are passed along to the next two guilds when it’s their turn.
The DGA in a communique from their 80-person Negotiating Committee to its members on Feb 3, signed by Jon Avnet (Negotiations Chair), Karen Gaviola (Negotiations Co-Chair), Todd Holland (Negotiations Co-Chair) and Russ Hollander (National Executive Director), said that their guild won’t be the first one at the bargaining table with the AMPTP as “the studios are not yet prepared to address our key issues.”
Added the note, “The date we begin to bargain is far from the most important issue. The more important issue at stake is whether the studios will decide to appropriately address the concerns of our members. Those concerns include wages, streaming residuals, safety, creative rights and diversity. If the studios do not address these issues, they know we are prepared to fight.”
For the WGA, which has yet to release a pattern of demands, word is that minimums on TV writing staff sizes and higher compensation are among the prime issues for the guild as they sit down with AMPTP.
The DGA only went on strike once: In 1983 for a period of 3 hours and 15 minutes.