DGA Talks With Hollywood Studios Progress as WGA Asserts ‘The Whole World Is on Our Side’

The Directors Guild of America is continuing its negotiations with the AMPTP, as companies hope to get a deal that could play a role in ending the two-week-old writers strike.

Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of America told members Monday that the guild is winning the “PR war” against the studios, as members share their stories in the media.

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“It seems the whole world is on our side,” wrote Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, a WGA East vice president, in an email to members titled “Our Momentum Grows.” “Members’ individual stories of our broken system — of getting by on ten weeks of work a year, of residual checks amounting to pennies — are resonating with the public. They understand we are losing out on the middle-class American Dream. We are not the elite. We are just like them. We are them.”

Cullen noted the solidarity across entertainment unions, and said that WGA members’ pickets have shut down industry events and productions. She also stated that based on prior estimates, “the strike could be costing about $30 million a day in lost studio output.”

The WGA later issued a correction to Deadline, stating that the figure actually comes from a Milken Institute study measuring lost output across the entire California economy due to the 2007-08 writers strike.

The DGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to a media blackout for the duration of their bargaining, and both declined to comment. The talks began last Wednesday.

But according to sources who have heard about the talks secondhand, discussions between the DGA and AMPTP appear to be progressing in a collaborative way. “Calm,” is how one industry insider described the mood in the negotiating room.

Those reports are consistent with the DGA’s reputation as the guild that sees the studios as partners rather than as enemies. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be sticking points. DGA leadership has been far more vocal than in the past about what directors see as the important stakes in this contract negotiation.

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The DGA is focused primarily on getting a streaming residual formula that would allow members to benefit from international subscriber growth. The current formula is based on U.S.-Canada subscriber numbers — with a 35% bonus meant to account for platforms’ international reach.

The DGA is also focused on getting an outsized hike in minimums to account for the last couple of years of runaway inflation. Another key point is creative rights, as the guild seeks to “protect the role and vision of all directors, and, in particular, television directors.”

The guild has said it also wants provisions on diversity, set safety, and securing the pension and health plans — none of which sound like potential deal-breakers for the AMPTP.

Assuming the DGA can reach an agreement, particularly on streaming residuals, that formula could be applied to the WGA.

WGA leaders have already advised members, however, not to expect that a DGA deal will resolve the strike, as happened in 2008. The DGA is not focused on writer-centric issues, like TV room size, which would still remain unresolved. The DGA is also not believed to be seeking a performance-based residual increase for successful shows, which has been one of the WGA’s demands.

The WGA is planning a Zoom meeting for members on Thursday.

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