After devoting 2011 to celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Directors Guild of America is back to focusing on its core functions — being result-oriented and pragmatic.
“We’re very disciplined about our approach,” says DGA prexy Taylor Hackford. “Our personality does not change. We’re not predicting what the issues are going to be because we’re going to invest the time and research to find that out.”
Though the DGA’s current master contract won’t expire until July 2014, Hackford insists that prepping for those negotiations is absolutely the top priority. The DGA has continued to spend its funds on Wall Street analyst Tom Wolzien as a consultant for more than half a dozen years to generate data and projections — data that’s often more accurate than what’s generated by the individual companies because of the broader scope of the guild’s sources, says Hackford.
“We’ve got to be focused on what’s actually going on in the world to arrive at the best analysis,” he adds.
Hackford stresses that the DGA is particularly cognizant of the ongoing pressures in healthcare costs, noting that the major gains in the current contract included a 2% annual wage hike and a boost to 15.5% from 14% in pension and health contributions to the DGA industry-guild plans.
“We try to be very pro-active about judicious, careful stewardship of the plans,” he says.
That said, Hackford is more than pleased about the success of the 75th anniversary. The year-long celebration was launched at the 63rd DGA Awards and focused on “game-changing” events with Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, John Rich, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg making special five-minute presentations.
By the time 2011 ended, the DGA had staged more than two dozen events, including a film tribute series with Christopher Nolan interviewing George Lucas about “Star Wars,” Eastwood honoring John Ford for “Stagecoach,” Scorsese discussing “Mean Streets,” Coppola expounding on “The Godfather” and “The Conversation,” and several James Bond directors — including former DGA president Michael Apted, who chaired the anniversary celebration — expounding on 007 films in London. The programs, made available for streaming on the DGA’s site, generated tens of thousands of views.
“I was totally knocked out by the TV comedy event hosted by Tommy Schlamme,” Hackford recalls.
That event, dubbed “From All in the Family to Modern Family: Game-Changing Comedy Direction,” wound up the celebration on Dec. 15 and featured James Burrows (“Cheers”), Pamela Fryman (“How I Met Your Mother”), Todd Holland (“The Larry Sanders Show”), Jason Winer (“Modern Family”) and Ken Whittingham (“The Office”).
Hackford, in his third year as DGA president, is particularly passionate about the efforts by the guild to support federal legislation to close down rogue websites — and educating the DGA’s 14,500 members about the issue.
“Our members rely on residuals, and Internet theft eats away at that,” he says. “We’ve seen mid-budget films and slow rollouts drop away because of the impact of piracy.”
Hackford is also pleased about the steady growth in the membership by about 2,500 over the past dozen years, thanks partly to aggressive recruitment in the fast-growing reality sector. Since September 2003, more than 650 reality television shows have signed DGA agreements for such titles as “The Amazing Race,” “Fear Factor,” “Big Brother,” “The Biggest Loser” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
“We want to cover any area in which our members work, but we’re not looking to be acquisitive and go outside directorial roles,” he adds.
And despite the time commitment of heading the DGA, Hackford has continued to work. He shot “Parker,” starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, last year and has been in post-production work this year.
“It’s very much of a part of the DNA of the leadership that we elect working directors,” he notes.
NOMINEES FOR 64TH ANNUAL DGAS
Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris”
David Fincher, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist”
Alexander Payne, “The Descendants”
Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
Steve James, “The Interrupters”
James Marsh, “Project Nim”
Richard Press, “Bill Cunningham New York”
Martin Scorsese, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
Michael Cuesta, “Homeland”
Vince Gilligan, “Face Off”
Patty Jenkins, “The Killing”
Tim Van Patten, “Game of Thrones”
Michael Waxman, “Friday Night Lights”
Fred Savage, “Modern Family”
Don Scardino, “30 Rock”
Michael Spiller, “Modern Family”
David Steinberg, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Robert B. Weide, “Curb Your Enhusiasm”
Jennifer Aniston, Patty Jenkins, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore, Penelope Spheeris, “Five”
Jeff Bleckner, Hallmark Hall of Fame, “Beyond The Blackboard”
Jon Cassar, “The Kennedys”
Stephen Gyllenhaal, “Girl Fight”
Michael Stevens, “Thurgood”
Louis J. Horvitz, “The Kennedy Center Honors”
Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live”
Don Mischer, “83rd Annual Academy Awards”
Chuck O’Neil, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
Glenn Weiss, “65th Annual Tony Awards”
Neil P. DeGroot, “The Biggest Loser”
Eytan Keller, “The Next Iron Chef”
Brian Smith, “Master Chef”
J. Rupert Thompson, “Fear Factor”
Bertran Van Munster, “The Amazing Race”
Larry Carpenter, “One Life to Live”
Casey Childs, “All My Children”
Mike Denney, “The Young and the Restless”
William Ludel, “General Hospital”
Scott McKinsey, “General Hospital”
Cynthia J. Popp, “The Bold and the Beautiful”
Angela Tessinari, “All My Children”
John Fortenberry, “Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred”
Jeffrey Hornaday, “Geek Charming”
Michael Lembeck, “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure”
Patricia Riggen, “Lemonade Mouth”
Damon Santostefano, “Best Player”
Amy Schatz, “A Child’s Garden of Poetry”
Lance Acord (Park Pictures)
Dante Ariola (MJZ)
Fredrik Bond (MJZ)
Steve Miller (Radical Media)
Noam Murro (Biscuit Filmworks)
Post-party obsession | DGA Awards have film-TV imbalance | Inner circle