The DGA elects a new president tomorrow at its biennial convention in Los Angeles, and there’s a good chance the winner will come from the ranks of its three West Coast-residing vice presidents, as have the past four DGA presidents.
If that pattern holds, the next DGA president will be either Betty Thomas, currently the guild’s 1st VP; Thomas Schlamme, now the 3rd VP; or Jon Favreau, the 5th VP. The guild actually has four other vice presidents – the national VP and the 2nd, 4th and 6th VPs — but they all live on the East Coast; guild rules require the president live on the West Coast.
Two of the guild’s past four presidents had held the office of 1st VP before being elected president including Paris Barclay, whose four-year run as president ends tomorrow, and Martha Coolidge, who was elected as the guild’s first female president in 2002.
That could make Thomas a leading contender to become only the guild’s second female president, should she seek the job. Thomas has been steadily moving up in the guild’s executive ranks. She was elected 5th VP in 2003, then re-elected in 2005 and 2007. She was elected 3rd VP in 2009 and re-elected in 2011; and was elected 1st VP in 2013 and re-elected in 2015.
Two other DGA presidents – Taylor Hackford and Arthur Hiller – ascended to the presidency from the office of 3rd VP, which could make Schlamme a top contender should he seek the job. Schlamme also served as co-chair of the guild’s past two film and TV contract negotiating committees, which could also help his candidacy.
There’s also precedent for the 5th VP to leapfrog to the presidency, as Michael Apted did in 2003. And that could boost the prospects for Iron Man director Favreau should he seek the guild’s top elected position. At 50, he’s also the youngest of the three West Coast-residing vice presidents.
It’s always, of course, possible that the delegates to the DGA convention could choose someone else. Jack Shea was secretary-treasurer before he was elected president in 1997 — the last non-VP to ascend to the presidency. Apted, the guild’s current secretary-treasurer, was president from 2003-2009 and could run again if he chooses.