DGA president Lesli Linka Glatter opened tonight’s DGA Awards gala with a history lesson and a look ahead at the “exceptional challenges” facing the guild next year when it begins negotiations for a new film and TV contract. The guild’s current contract, reached just days before the Covid pandemic shut down production across the country, is set to expire June 30, 2023.
“Our current contract ends in 15 months,” she told the members and guests assembled tonight at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. “We are going to be entering negotiations with exceptional challenges. We have seen substantial technological shifts and vertical integration in our industry having a deep impact on our members’ income, particularly with respect to residuals. Additionally, we need to increase compensation, ensure that inclusive hiring practices don’t back-slide, address difficult working conditions and step up and lead set-safety efforts and seek out eco-friendly and sustainable production practices for the long-term health of our planet. And we need to accomplish all of this by doing the single most important thing we do for our members – negotiating our next collective bargaining contract. That’s how the story needs to end – with that success.
“But how are we going to make all that happen? As we have done throughout our history. By standing together. By growing, questioning and changing as our world changes. Although many of these issues seem daunting, they can all be tackled with the same spirit of collaboration that comes from the active participation and service of members throughout every category on councils and committees. At any given moment, literally hundreds of elected guild members are ‘hands on’ in determining the direction of our guild.”
The industry’s latest three-year bargaining cycle is just now coming to an end, and when the next cycle begins early next year, the DGA again is expected to be the first of the guilds and unions to come to the bargaining table with management’s Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. Russell Hollander, the DGA’s national executive director, will be the guild’s chief negotiator. Jon Avnet will chair the negotiating committee, and Todd Holland and Karen Gaviola will serve as co-chairs.
Glatter, an eight-time Emmy nominee whose directing credits include Homeland, The West Wing and Mad Men, also said: “Strong and thoughtful leadership is exactly what the DGA and our industry need right now. These have been and continue to be challenging times. Beyond external concerns like Covid, there are changes within the industry – including an ever-accelerating consolidation of the companies we work for while at the same time a monumental sea change in how our content is distributed. Addressing these issues requires us to be vigilant and forward-thinking.
Closing out her remarks, Glatter gave a shout-out to “the spectacular director Beth McCarthy-Miller for chairing tonight’s Awards. Beth has stepped in and brought her smarts and her comedy chops to the table to ensure we will all have an excellent time tonight.”
Here is the rest of Glatter’s speech at the DGA Awards tonight:
“And that is just what the DGA does. So here’s a little of the DGA story. For 86 years – and I promise I won’t go through every year – we have led on so many fronts: protecting and extending the creative rights of directors, establishing lucrative residuals formulas that allow us to share in the economic success of our work when exploited in new formats, securing world-class pension and health plans for ourselves and our families, and continuing our pressure on our employers for inclusion and a level playing field for all our members.
“We established jurisdiction and the first contracts in new media for original content made for streaming. And for every contract since we have built upon those gains. In the midst of the pandemic, we created an industry coalition, collaborating closely with SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the Teamsters to develop safety protocols with the Producers that allowed film and television production to resume safely when much of the country was shut down – keeping DGA members employed and our industry thriving.”
“Directors and their teams are natural leaders,” she said, “and when we are joined together and have each other’s back, our solidarity is unstoppable. As a member for 37 years – I was a very small child when I joined – and now as President, I am justifiably proud of this Guild and our leadership – in the industry and on our sets every day.
“The past several years have been game-changing – from Covid, to a world in chaos, to immense social changes. And at times of great turmoil, we need hope, community and stories – stories that transform, entertain, provoke, educate, inspire and allow us to dream. Tonight, we celebrate the work of these brilliant film and TV makers, and rejoice in the fact that we get to be here together, in person and not on Zoom, which makes it all the more sweet.
“There is no higher honor than being recognized by one’s peers who understand what it takes to put that vision on the screen – whatever size that screen may be. And looking out at this room of so many storytellers, I am once again reminded that even on the hardest days on set, 2 a.m. of a bad night, when everything is going wrong, eating a soggy grilled cheese sandwich that you don’t even want – we are so, so lucky to be doing what we do, to be storytellers. So tonight – we celebrate storytelling.
“And part of that celebration is to deeply thank our partners – the directorial team – the UPMs, ADs, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates – without whom we know nothing would happen. So to the team members here tonight, we invite you to join tonight’s directors on-stage as they receive their awards. You deserve to share in the warm glow of that spotlight.
“Now as many of you know – I was only elected President last September and this has been quite a whirlwind of learning just how much goes into leading our incredible Guild. I am so deeply proud and honored and a little overwhelmed to take on this role – but I want to begin by thanking and recognizing my ‘team’ – my fellow officers and National Board members, whose dedication and service ensure that the DGA is an inclusive and welcoming union for all our members.
“Another source of inspiration in troubled times is how the busiest members carve out the time to serve and to give back. My sincere thanks to those of you here tonight. I also want to specifically thank past-presidents Paris Barclay and Thomas Schlamme – guys, let me tell you, your advice and guidance have been the greatest gifts. And I promise to stop calling you … but not quite yet.
“And to the other half of the team – our amazing DGA staff who support our 19,000 members each and every day – I offer my gratitude for your service. This team of 170 is led by the brilliant Russ Hollander, whom we are so fortunate to have at the helm. He’s crazy smart, hard-working and ready for battle with the forces inside and outside our industry seeking to reduce the creative and economic rights of our members. And personally, Russ has been a true partner to me as a new President. Thank you, Russ for your strong and thoughtful leadership.”