The expiration of the DGA’s current film and TV contract is still more than a year away, but the guild already is gearing up for the talks. Its board of directors has appointed Michael Apted and Thomas Schlamme to co-chair the guild’s negotiating committee, and DGA National Executive Director Jay Roth will be the DGA’s chief negotiator in talks with management Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers.
The DGA’s current three-year contract runs through June 30, 2017, but the guild is famous for starting – and finishing – negotiations well in advance of the expiration of its major contracts. Wrapping up talks early removes the uncertainty that comes when negotiations go down to the wire, which can cause jittery producers to delay production starts until a deal is reached, lest they be caught by a strike in mid-production. In the past, those delays created ripple effects throughout the industry, playing havoc with the schedules of both management and talent.
Three years ago, the guild started talks in October and reached a deal in November – a full seven months before the expiration of the film and TV pact. The likelihood of a DGA strike next year is slim. The industry’s most powerful union has resorted to a strike only once in its 80-year history — and that strike, back in 1987, only lasted 15 minutes on the West Coast, and for three hours and 15 minutes back east.
“The guild’s hallmark is preparation, and that’s what we have been doing well in advance – working on extensive research, and engaging our members as we determine our key priorities,” said Apted, the guild’s Secretary-Treasurer. “As to whether we negotiate this year or next will be determined by both the industry and the guild. Whether it’s sooner or later, we’ll be ready.”
Said Schlamme, the guild’s third VP: “Protecting and extending the creative and economic rights of our members is at the core of what we do. Michael and I will work with members of our negotiations committee, our creative rights committee and our guild’s professional staff as we prepare to secure the best possible outcome on behalf of our members.”
The guild said it will appoint the full negotiating committee later this year.
It will be made up of directors, assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors and stage managers working in all genres.