2018 DGA Annual Meetings in Los Angeles & New York

AM LA 2018

May 17, 2018

The DGA held its 2018 annual membership meetings at Guild headquarters in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 15 and at the DGA New York Theatre on Thursday, May 17. Both meetings marked DGA President Thomas Schlamme’s first time officiating these proceedings since his election in June 2017.

After welcoming the attendees and hearing the Secretary’s Report and the Treasurer’s Report from DGA Secretary-Treasurer Michael Apted, Schlamme delivered his President’s Report on the state of the Guild. Hearkening back to the spirit that founded the Guild, he recalled the realization those founding directors had more than 80 years ago, that as individuals, they could never achieve the strength that would come from the collective.

“Through the decades, we’ve been shaped by those early traditions, and expanded to include all members of the directorial team … now over 17,000 strong,” said Schlamme. “Therefore, it’s no surprise that your Guild is doing very well. For us, as the saying goes, tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. That fire is alive in each and every one of us today. It’s the inspiration behind my mantra as President: Honor our past, stay flexible in our present, and keep a keen eye on the future. It’s why we’ve been so successful in the single most important thing we do as a Guild: Negotiations.”

It seemed appropriate that the DGA Award-winning director of the series Sports Night would utilize a famous Wayne Gretzky hockey quote: “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been,” to illustrate how the Guild’s strategy of deep preparation, foresight to where the industry was heading and early talks in negotiations has led to significant gains on behalf of the membership in residuals from re-use on new media platforms, as well as the 2017 negotiations gains in original made-for-SVOD content.

Pointing out that the current contract expires in 2020, Schlamme said, “That means that this year is a time of preparation and evaluation – a time to begin serious analysis of our agreements. As part of our prep process, we will be examining trends in all genres and for all categories we represent.”

Looking back on the last round of commercial negotiations, Schlamme recalled how the commercial producers sought significant rollbacks targeted primarily at ADs.

“Directors stood firm with the ADs, and as a result we emerged with an agreement that we can be proud of – including wage and pension gains matching those we achieved for our Basic Agreement. This contract will keep our members working in commercials for years to come.”

Acknowledging the historic cultural shift in the industry, Schlamme noted, “Our Guild has been outspoken about our commitment in the drive to more respectful and inclusive workplaces. Changing culture won’t happen overnight.   But what’s clear is that an important part of this effort is our continued decades-long fight to ensure the full and fair participation of women and people of color in the director’s chair – by pushing the employers, who are the ones that actually hire, to be more inclusive.”

After touching on the Guild’s legislative efforts to secure production in the areas where our members live and work and a look forward to where SVOD business models might be heading, Schlamme wrapped up by thanking DGA National Executive Director Russ Hollander for his partnership in carry forward our Guild’s continued strength and stability, much like his predecessor and now Senior Advisor Jay Roth, alongside the rest of the DGA staff.   Then he took a moment to look out upon the audience.

“I wish you could all see my view of this room right now, because it so perfectly embodies how every accomplishment I covered here tonight was made possible by one thing, and one thing only: Our solidarity, the engine of our strength and our union. We couldn’t do any of it without our active working members who have made the commitment to Guild service. We simply can’t be effective without those in the trenches making their voices heard, and keeping alive the spirit of our founding directors – and the generations of men and women who came after them to advance the creative and economic rights of our members.

In addition to President Schlamme's State-of-the-Guild report, attendees of the New York meeting also heard a special address from DGA National Vice President Vincent Misiano that covered items of specific interest to members on the East Coast. The meetings in both locations also featured the following series of reports from Guild officials:

  • Secretary/Treasurer’s Report, (both locations) - DGA Secretary-Treasurer Michael Apted
  • PAC Report, Los Angeles – DGA PAC Co-Chair Carl Weathers
  • PAC Report, New York - DGA PAC Leadership Council Co-Chair Gary Donatelli
  • Western AD/UPM Council Report - Council West Chair Victor Hsu
  • Eastern AD/UPM Council Report – Council Chair Lyn Pinezich
  • Western AD/SM/PA Council Report - Council West Chair Valdez Flagg
  • Eastern AD/SM/PA Council Report - Council East Chair Joyce Thomas
  • Special Projects Committee Report, Los Angeles - Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan
  • Special Projects Committee Report, New York – Eastern Region Committee Member Dennis W. Mazzocco
  • Directors Guild Foundation Report, Los Angeles - DGF Chair Donald Petrie
  • Directors Guild Foundation Report, New York - DGF First Vice Chair Scott Berger
  • Pension and Health Plans Report (both locations) - DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans CEO Lisa Read

Prior to adjournment, the floor was opened to questions from the membership. Members of the Guild’s management team were present at both meetings to provide answers and insight. Both events ended with a cocktail reception, giving attendees an opportunity to catch-up with their colleagues.

photos by Shane Karns/Los Angeles and Marcie Revens/New York