Director Karen Gaviola is the chair of the new committee.
The move comes in the wake of the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza on the New Mexico set of Rust in October. DGA officials stress, however, that their safety concerns “extend far beyond firearms,” noting that “entertainment workers are regularly exposed to explosions, vehicles, aircraft, falling objects, dangerous animals, or countless other hazardous environments.”
“Safety has been and continues to be a top priority for the DGA,” said a guild spokesperson. “For decades, we have been leading advocates for mandatory safety training and for demanding increased safety precautions on sets. To ensure that safety concerns remain at the forefront of our guild, President Lesli Linka Glatter recently appointed a new Guild-wide Safety Committee of leading directors, assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors and stage managers in both feature film and television to recommend and advance a broad range of important safety measures for our members and our industry. Most recently, the Committee has been working with sister guilds and onions and government leaders in California on new legislation to address set safety concerns which we anticipate will be introduced shortly. We look forward to the studios’ support of these critical measures.”
That legislation, SB 831, is pending in California’s Senate and would require “a motion picture production employer to hire a qualified set safety supervisor for all motion picture productions to perform an overall risk assessment to be completed prior to the first day of production and to be on set daily to ensure cast and crew are not engaged in or exposed to an environment or activity that puts workers’ health and safety at risk.” The bill would also establish certain legal requirements and rules for the ability to use firearms in film and TV productions.
Danny Bush, the DGA’s associate national executive director and Western executive director, expressed the guild’s support of the bill in a March 23 letter to Dave Cortese, chair of the state Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee.
“The Rust tragedy exposed the shortcomings of the entertainment industry in ensuring the safety of its workers,” Bush said in the letter. “On too many sets, safety matters are not prioritized enough; recommended guidelines are not consistently followed; and the professionals assigned safety responsibilities are overwhelmed with other job duties and long hours. While the Rust tragedy involved a shooting, our safety concerns extend far beyond firearms; entertainment workers are regularly exposed to explosions, vehicles, aircraft, falling objects, dangerous animals, or countless other hazardous environments.
“SB 831 appreciates the larger problem and imports structural safety protections employed in the United Kingdom and Australia,” the letter continues. “California is the nation’s leader in film & TV production. Thus, it should also be the leader in workplace safety for the many Californians who show up to work on set each day. For these reasons, the Directors Guild of America supports SB 831 and we look forward to working with you as this bill moves forward.”
Citing safety concerns, the DGA last month ordered its members to stop working on Oak, a low-budget horror film that’s been shooting in Georgia. The film’s producers, Thomasville Pictures, was one of the companies involved in the ill-fated production of Rust.
“Oak is not a DGA-covered project,” a guild spokesman said. “Representatives of the DGA informed the producers of specific safety requirements that needed to be satisfied for the film to be covered under a DGA agreement. The producers failed to meet those conditions.”