DGA members ratify contract

New pact includes increase in minimums, rise in Fox residuals

HOLLYWOOD — Members of the Directors Guild of America have “overwhelmingly” ratified a new three-year contract, a key step toward setting up an industrywide meeting on runaway production.

No date has been set for the runaway production meeting but DGA national exec director Jay Roth said the confab likely will take place before July 1, the effective date for the new contract.

The meeting will bring together the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and the other major Hollywood unions to address “possible contract remedies,” or concessions. But DGA prexy Jack Shea cautioned that details of the meeting, first disclosed in late November, have yet to be hammered out.

“There’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done on the runaway issue,” he added. “We’re willing to make concessions, but only if it brings work here.”

Longtime campaign

The DGA has been at the forefront of campaigning for solutions to the problem of runaway production, first through partnering with the Screen Actors Guild on funding the 1999 Monitor Co. report to show the $10 billion in economic impact to U.S. production. The org also has been a strong endorser of wage-based tax credit legislation aimed mostly at keeping low-budget film and TV production in the United States.

The approval of the deal by the helmers union also immediately kicks into effect interim provisions on TV production, prior to the start of the spring production cycle and pilot season.

The interim provisions place film-style shoots (such as series and telepics) under the current pact’s basic contract provisions, with taped programs (such as gameshows, news and sports) under the freelance live and tape TV agreement. The previous contract language called for making that determination based on whether the production is on film or tape.

“Although our negotiations with the AMPTP were tough, we were able to achieve very significant economic and creative gains for the DGA membership,” Roth said. “Additionally, the blended contract will help to ensure the economic security of DGA members and eliminate contractual uncertainties with the advance of new technologies.”

The new DGA deal includes a $20,000 payment to the director of a movie if it’s turned into a sequel; an increase in minimums, in all areas except primetime TV, by 3.5% annually, with primetime minimums increasing by 3% annually; Fox Network residuals rising gradually to Big Three levels — 80% the first year, 90% the second and 100% the third; foreign residuals to be uncapped at a rate of 1.2% once sales targets are met; and basic cable residuals boosted on the second through fifth runs by 40%.

The DGA, which reps 12,400 members, did not disclose voting totals.

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