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New DGA Film and TV Contract Means Better Streaming Residuals for More Directors

The Directors Guild of America's new agreement also includes more concentrated aims at diversity behind the camera.

Alma Har'el poses in the press room at the 72nd Annual Directors Guild of America Awards at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Los Angeles72nd Annual DGA Awards - Press Room, Los Angeles, USA - 25 Jan 2020

Alma Har’el at the 2020 DGA Awards

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

The Directors Guild of America National Board voted unanimously on Saturday to approve a new three-year film and television contract that includes major strides in streaming residuals as well as concentrated efforts to increase diversity behind the camera. The terms of the agreement begin July 1, and extend through June 30, 2023.

“The future is what drives us, and that’s what you see in this agreement. As the streaming sea change we anticipated for so long is now overhauling the industry, and new services continue to enter the market, this pivotal deal boosting streaming residuals beyond traditional TV levels is a major victory,” DGA President Thomas Schlamme said in a statement on behalf of an over 80-member Negotiations Committee.

That’s great news for directors. As subscription video on demand (SVOD) content continues to amplify each year, and the number of streaming services just keeps growing — with the new wave including Disney+, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Quibi, and Peacock — the agreement especially benefits filmmakers with evergreen films and TV shows. The new deal sees a nearly 50-percent increase in residuals for DGA members working on original SVOD series, bringing the three-year residual for a 60-minute series on top streaming services to more than $73,000. That’s up about fivefold from under $15,000 in 2016, when the number of streaming services was considerably more modest. The new rules will apply to ongoing series that began production during the previous contract.

The new terms will also accommodate lower-budget series, expanding the coverage to more shows and therefore the DGA’s members. Elsewhere, general wage and residual bases will increase by 2.5-percent in the first year of the agreement, and 3-percent in the second and third years.

Diversity was also in focus. As part of the new contract, the Guild has secured commitment from major film studios to appoint senior creative executives to meet with the DGA twice a year to discuss and develop strategies for increasing opportunities from underrepresented groups. The contract also establishes a Joint Diversity and Inclusion Action Committee to increase those opportunities, with members consisting of both DGA reps and studio executives. As of November 2019, diversity was on the up among DGA members directing TV episodes, with 31-percent women in 2018-19 vs. 25-percent in 2017-18; directors of color were 27-percent vs. 24-percent in 2017-18.

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