May 3, 2023

As WGA Strike Continues Directors Guild Prepares To Fight For More Global Streaming Residuals, Contract Talks One Week Away

Will we see a joint WGA and DGA strike? Could it last until June to see SAGAFTRA join?

Image: Getty Images

At this point studios are getting away with financial murder on creatives’ abilities to make a proper livelihood. It feels as if the only way for creatives to get ahead is to enforce the full measure of membership from all three guilds to bargain collectively for a better financial future that includes their health and pension looked after.

While the DGA has struck only once in its history, for three-plus hours back in 1983, a directors strike cannot be ruled out this time. The DGA’s current film and TV contract expires June 30.

“Residuals are one of the most important benefits of being a DGA member,” the DGA said in a recent message to its members. “Residuals tie you to the economic success of your work, they provide a safety net between jobs, and they are a major funding source for our Pension Plan. For over 60 years, residuals have helped provide a secure future for our members.”

In a statement posted on social media before the WGA strike, the DGA said it will be “fighting” at the bargaining table for “a fair share” of streaming residuals and put a particular emphasis on gaining more residuals from the foreign reuse of its members’ work on subscription video on demand.

“In 2008, the DGA was the first guild to win jurisdiction and residuals for the Internet, a crucial precedent that established the framework for the future of the entertainment industry,” the guild said. “In the years that followed, SVOD streaming services became the dominant Internet medium for scripted programs, and the DGA prioritized building this residual for the future.

“In 2014, the DGA developed a groundbreaking SVOD residual formula for high-budget dramatic programs to address how the industry was changing and enable our members to share in the growth and success of SVOD. As the business grew, so did our residual, as we negotiated substantial increases for our members in 2017 and 2020.

“Today, the vast majority of SVOD subscriber growth is based abroad and many of the streaming services’ business models are now focused on global growth. As we prepare to bargain for a strong and modern contract, we’re committed to negotiate a residual formula that provides our fair share of the global growth of this industry and the distribution of our work around the world.”

In an accompanying video (watch it here), five directors discussed the importance of foreign streaming residuals, which the WGA is also striking for. When the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke off their talks Monday night, they were still very far apart on the guild’s demands for a new high-budget SVOD residual formula that would be based on the streaming services’ foreign subscriber counts.

Ed Ornelas, whose TV directing credits include Grey’s Anatomy, said, “The biggest challenge for DGA members in the upcoming contracts is just how the landscape has changed tremendously. I think the residuals are critical because we are part of the DNA of these shows that get made.”

Tessa Blake, whose TV directing credits include A Million Little Things and Station 19, said: “We are fighting for streaming residuals in international markets because this is the great growth of our industry, and we want our beautiful creative industry to be seen globally. But we must be compensated for the work we do.”