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Directors Guild Reaches Tentative Pact

Labor: Agreement with film and TV producers would give directors big pay raises and create a 'code' on creative rights.


Directors may complain about tight filmmaking deadlines, but their union is running ahead of schedule.

The Directors Guild of America announced this week that it has reached a tentative agreement with film and TV producers well in advance of a June 30 contract expiration that could have led to work slowdowns or a strike.

The proposed three-year pact, which is still subject to ratification by the guild's 10,000 members, would give directors substantial pay increases and improve the collection of residuals.

It would also create a "code of preferred practices" that would outline basic creative rights for directors and attempt to address some long-standing disputes over movie scheduling and marketing.

Many directors have complained of excessive interference from producers and studio executives and lack of sufficient post-production time.

The code would not be binding on either side but rather exist "more from the standpoint of recognizing the creative contribution of directors to a project," said Nick Counter, president of the 150-member Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

"There were trade-offs on both sides," Counter added. "Like any hard-fought collective bargaining agreement, no one's totally satisfied. But the important thing is that movies will continue to be made with no slowdowns."

Jay D. Roth, a labor lawyer who has worked extensively with the Hollywood trade guilds, focused on the negotiations shortly after assuming his post as executive director of the Directors Guild in October. Contracts in 1990 and 1993 were also concluded early, which saved millions of dollars that might have been spent on costly delays, Roth noted.

"It was a negotiation with the understanding that we have a basically sound relationship between the two sides," Roth said.

John Frankenheimer, a veteran director who led the guild committee on creative rights, hailed the new agreement, particularly the creation of a permanent committee that will include both producers and directors and will monitor such issues as contract disputes, firings, editing rights and credits.

"This was a huge breakthrough, a tremendous concession on the part of the studios that creative rights are important," Frankenheimer said.

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