On October 2, DGA members attended the London Coordinating Committee’s (LCC) sixth annual general membership meeting held at the David Lean Room at BAFTA in London. Open to all DGA members living in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the meeting offered DGA members in those countries the opportunity to socialize with one another while receiving updates about the Guild’s activities and efforts to improve the economic and creative rights for members who reside and work outside the United States.
After introducing the other members of the Committee in his welcome, LCC Co-Chair Jim Gillespie gave a brief overview of the LCC’s mission and accomplishments. “The Committee’s primary focus has been working to make sure that directors who live here enjoy the protections of a DGA agreement,” said Gillespie. “We discuss approaches to improving the conditions of our members who work and live here. If you’re working on a film that’s not covered by the DGA Basic Agreement, let us know as soon as possible and we‘ll try to get it covered.”
Gillespie then turned the podium over to Hackford who stated, “More than 750 DGA members now live outside the US, including approximately 300 here in the UK and Ireland. This Guild is committed to fighting for the creative and economic rights of all DGA members, wherever they live and work.”
“Fight is the key word here,” Hackford continued. “Let’s face it, no producer or financier is ever willingly going to give a director substantial creative freedom, or a fair share of the economic benefits that derive from his or her work unless they are forced to. Until recently, that philosophy has been pervasive here in the UK with many Directors having no collective bargaining agreements and very few benefits or any protection of their rights. That’s why we established the DGA London Coordinating Committee a few years ago and began holding annual membership meetings here in London.”
Hackford gave a snapshot why it’s important for UK directors to work under the protection of collective bargaining agreements. “In 2011, our British & Irish members earned more than $60 million under DGA agreements, including $6.5 million in residuals and foreign levies. Of the 45 feature films that were shot in the UK and Ireland and released in the US in 2010-2011, 29 of them were made by members under the jurisdiction of our BA. That number may sound impressive, but to me it says that on 16 films made here in the UK and Ireland, the director was not covered by any collective bargaining agreement. All of you in this room owe it to yourselves and your colleagues to fight to get your films covered.”
Hackford also spoke on a number of other topic including the Guild’s goals over the coming 18 months such as preparations for the upcoming contracts negotiations and the progress in the ongoing fight against Internet theft.
Before opening the floor to questions, Hackford acknowledged the presence at the meeting of Secretary-Treasurer Michael Apted; National Executive Director Jay D. Roth; Associate National Executive Director Hollander, who serves as the chief executive liaison to the LCC; and DGA-Producer Pension & Health Plans Chief Investment Officer Mack Clapp, who had conducted a number of individual member meetings over the past two days and was on hand to any answer questions about retirement and health benefits.
“As you can see,” Hackford concluded, “your Guild has an immense amount on its plate, but I believe we are up to every challenge ahead. I look forward to working with you all.”
The LCC was established in 2007 by the DGA National Board, which recognized the need to create a coordinating committee in the same way it already has with similarly sized populations of Guild members in San Francisco and Chicago. Alongside Co-Chairs Michael Caton-Jones and Jim Gillespie, the LCC’s members include Directors Antonia Bird, Tom Hooper, Richard Loncraine, Roger Michell, Mike Newell, Chris Newman, Jim Sheridan, and David Yates.