A major union representing film and television directors announced late Saturday that it had reached a tentative deal with Hollywood producers, addressing industry fears that artificial intelligence may wipe out creative workers’ jobs and instituting an on-set ban of live ammunition after a cinematographer was killed in 2021.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) said its “historic” three-year contract with studios and streaming services recognizes that AI cannot replace members’ work. While the DGA had previously been quiet on the issue, it was a flash point in negotiations between screenwriters and producers before their negotiations collapsed, leading to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike that began a month ago.
Some economists have warned that AI could eventually replace hundreds of millions of jobs across industries.
The live ammunition ban, meanwhile, comes about a year and a half after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of “Rust.” Criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin, who was handling a prop gun when it discharged, were filed, then dropped.
The directors’ deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) would also: provide a 5 percent wage increase in the first year, with raises of 4 percent and 3.5 percent in the two subsequent years; reduce the length of assistant directors’ workdays by an hour; and expand other safety programs.
“This deal recognizes the future of our industry is global and respects the unique and essential role of directors and their teams as we move into that future,” DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter said in a statement. “As each new technology brings about major change, this deal ensures that each of the DGA’s 19,000 members can share in the success we all create together.”
The directors union, which began negotiations with producers May 10, said the guild’s national board will consider approving the tentative agreement Tuesday. The deadline for a new DGA deal is June 30.
A directors strike would have left much of the on-screen entertainment industry on picket lines. The WGA, which represents more than 11,000 Hollywood screenwriters, has been on strike since May 2. That walkout has paused production on some of the most popular television shows in the United States.
In 2008, a weeks-long writers strike ended soon after a DGA deal laid the groundwork for the writers’ eventual agreement.
That “playbook” won’t work this time, a WGA negotiator said.
“If [AMPTP President] Carol Lombardini thinks negotiating with the DGA while we’re out on strike is some kind of trump card, she’s going to find out that her 2007-2008 playbook doesn’t belong in the negotiating room; it belongs in a museum,” Chris Keyser said in a video last week. “Any deal that puts this town back to work runs straight through the WGA, and there is no way around us.”
The AMPTP did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment Sunday afternoon.
The directors’ deal comes at an inflection point for yet another Hollywood union. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is scheduled to meet with producers for negotiations this week.
The actors have until Monday at 5 p.m. Pacific to vote on a potential strike. Their contract, like the directors’ agreement, expires June 30.
“The prospect of a strike is not a first option, but a last resort,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said in a news release announcing the strike-authorization vote.