DGA Coronavirus Update: Latest Information for Members

CV Updates

May 8, 2020

A message from DGA President Thomas Schlamme and
National Executive Director
Russell Hollander

Dear Members:

We hope that you are safe in these challenging times, and that you’re able to take comfort and solace in being with loved ones. As we’ve been doing, we wanted to keep you updated on your Guild’s efforts to keep us all protected, connected and on the path to a brighter future.

We know that the number one thing on your minds, on all of our minds, is getting back to work doing what we love, as this situation impacts us all personally, economically and creatively. And as powerful as that desire is, the key to getting there is the safety of our members and all industry workers. That is something we take very seriously, and it’s what is driving all our hard work in this area. In our last letter, you’ll recall we announced the formation of a National Board Committee, which includes Guild leaders and members from every category. The Committee is working day and night to determine what a safe return to production can and should look like. We’re being incredibly diligent in our approach, applying the latest science, and consulting with top medical experts and risk analysts. But as you know from the intricacies of production, there are a lot of complex issues involved, not to mention the fluidity of this situation, and the many unknowns. We are in the thick of it now. As Brando said in On the Waterfront, “There's more to this than I thought, Charley … there's a lot more.” As things progress, we’ll be sharing our work with our sister unions and with employers – taking in their feedback to ensure it reflects the reality of every area. There’s much left to be done, but there’s a lot riding on this, and it’s just too important to not get it right.

Over the past few weeks we’ve also been on a listening tour with our category Councils which have continued with their regular meetings, virtually, as has our National Board. One issue that came up frequently centered on missing the camaraderie with peers since our buildings have closed. We are all such collaborative creatures, and our Guild is no different. Which is why we’re pleased to say that we are finding secure ways to program events and expand meetings online. The Special Projects Committee has been ramping up, as have the Diversity committees and Director Development Initiative. Further building on our government affairs work, the Leadership Council is planning meetings with lawmakers to push our legislative agenda. And while we aren’t able to have our Annual Meeting in person, we are looking at ways to host it virtually. More information on that will be coming soon. 

Just as serious as your creative and economic protection, is the human aspect – and we know that some of you are feeling the strain of this pandemic emotionally. If that’s something you’re experiencing, we encourage you to reach out for help. The DGA-Producer Pension and Health Plans in March approved the temporary coverage of telemedicine for participants – that includes telepsychology visits. Additionally, the Motion Picture & Television Fund (www.mptf.com) and Actors Fund (www.actorsfund.org)  have information on counseling resources.  

We are also pleased to share more on our Guild’s work to fast-track income into members’ pockets when you most need it. You’ll remember that our residuals department has been firing on all cylinders to do just that. Our foreign levies team has also been working around the clock and will begin distributing millions of dollars in foreign levies in the next few days. As a reminder, foreign levies are fees collected by foreign countries in part to compensate rights holders for the effects of copying, rental and retransmission of their films and television programs. This money to members was made possible by the DGA’s successful efforts to negotiate agreements with foreign collecting societies, and challenge the studios’ claims to these monies.

Additionally, we continue all our other important work we’ve covered in past letters from enforcing our contracts; to ensuring our members still doing essential work in news, under challenging circumstances, are being kept safe by employers; to relief from the DGA-Producer-Pension and Health Plans; to fighting for federal and state aid for members; to expanded member aid through a new COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund from the Directors Guild Foundation. And more recently, as some talk/variety shows and commercials have begun shooting remotely, we’ve been closely involved to ensure our members and jurisdiction are being protected.

Every single day we are working hard to not only protect our future, but to shape it into what it should be. It’s what we wake up and go to sleep thinking about. There will be challenges, there will be obstacles. It will not be easy. But we will get through this on our way to that future we’re shaping together.

Please continue to be safe as we continue our work fighting for you, navigating every decision with kindness and compassion.

Thomas Schlamme

Russell Hollander
National Executive Director