Thomas Schlamme shall be stepping down as president of the DGA when the guild convenes its biennial conference on September 18. In a heartfelt farewell handle to the DGA’s members, he regarded again on his 4 years in workplace, and ahead to new management because the business emerges from the pandemic, which he, in no small half, helped get again on its ft.
“I will be stepping down at our upcoming Biennial Convention – and look forward to a new voice leading us,” he stated in his farewell handle, which was despatched out to members and is on the DGA web site. “And though this letter is a goodbye of sorts, more than anything it is filled with gratitude to this sacred institution of folks standing up for one another.”
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It’s conventional that DGA presidents step down after 4 years in workplace.
First elected to a two-year time period in 2017, Schlamme stated that “starting my first time period, we celebrated our historic 2017 negotiations, the place we achieved a tripling of made-for-SVOD residuals at a vital inflection level of main technological change. And proper at that second, there was additionally lengthy overdue social change afoot with the highly effective voices of #MeToo. Just as we had at all times fought for our inventive and financial rights – so too did we struggle for our members’ proper to go to work and be protected and free from harassment.
“In my second term, our Negotiations Committee consisting of more than 70 members from all categories and regions, co-chaired brilliantly by Jon Avnet and Todd Holland, secured a strong new contract. We achieved another leap forward in made-for-SVOD residuals, as well as gains in wages, increased pension contributions, and much needed creative rights for TV directors.”
The guild had reached an settlement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a brand new movie and TV contract on March 5, “but there was unfortunately no time to celebrate,” he wrote. In lower than two weeks, earlier than the deal might even be ratified by the DGA’s members, the business would go into full lockdown because the Covid-19 pandemic swept internationally.
“It was at this exact moment that the world as we knew it was turned on its head,” he wrote. “Overnight, we were faced with near total unemployment across our membership. As we contended with this unimaginable pandemic, the senseless murder of George Floyd ignited a powerful racial reckoning, and a clarion call for change not only in our nation but also within our Guild. There was no playbook for what we faced. But with our strong foundation beneath us, we looked deep within ourselves to meet these moments together.”
“To get this industry back up and running safely,” he wrote, “we worked with our professional staff and sister guilds and unions. So many dedicated members from all areas were a critical part of this process led by Steven Soderbergh and Paris Barclay. And I am proud to say, one year later, the visionary protocols we developed and negotiated for are the singular reason so many of our members are safely back to work.”
Those protocols, adopted final September, would make movie and tv productions among the many most secure locations to work within the nation, and return tons of of hundreds of individuals safely again to work.
“At the same time,” he famous, “we recognized that inclusion was about so much more than our longtime fight against employers’ biased hiring practices,” he instructed the guild’s members. “We heard from a lot of you concerning the painful points endured – within the office and past – as you spoke out, difficult us to do the exhausting work. We started to do exactly that…collectively.
“These seemingly overwhelming challenges might by no means have been met with out the big dedication of so many. I need to thank our National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, Russ Hollander. He has been within the trenches with me for the previous 4 years, at all times listening, at all times studying and most significantly, at all times main. We are a greater Guild due to Russ, and his equally glorious skilled workers who work tirelessly for our profit.
“I want to thank my fellow officers throughout these past four years – Betty Thomas, Vince Misiano, Mary Rae Thewlis, Lesli Linka Glatter, Ron Howard, Jon Favreau, Brooke Kennedy, Laura Belsey, Bethany Rooney and Lily Olszewski – as well as our entire Board for their counsel that I rely on so much. That same appreciation extends to all the leaders across our six Category Councils and our many Committees. The most invaluable resource a person can give is their time, and I am always moved by the commitment and sacrifice made by these leaders. But mostly, I want to thank you” – the members.
Looking again to his youth, Schlamme recalled how films and tv reveals sparked his creativeness. “As a younger adolescent in Houston, Texas, after Sabbath School, I’d skip temple, take the bus downtown on my own to one of many grand film palaces and slip into the darkness. These theaters had been my temple – and though I didn’t know the opposite viewers members, we had been bonded by our shared expertise.
“There was one other place I got that special feeling…in my living room where we had our one television set. I would listen to my dad’s belly-laugh as he watched Hogan’s Heroes (who’d have thought a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany, returned as an American soldier, and helped liberate the camps would be the prime demo). I’d see tears roll down my mother’s cheeks, and occasionally my father’s as well (before he quickly covered them up), as we all watched Bonanza. These moments for me were indelible, evoking a sense of belonging, both to a community and to a family. And in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined that I would one day be able to work on the other side of that magical world.”
Twenty years later, he discovered himself “standing in entrance of Martin Scorsese, mustering all of my braveness to ask him to signal my utility to formally be a part of the DGA – and get my first cherished membership card. I didn’t actually know Marty on the time, however I had an workplace close to his and he graciously obliged. An equally indelible second.
“As I joyously immersed myself within the work, I didn’t actually perceive the true that means of that card. I didn’t understand there was a neighborhood of those that had been defending me. Brave members who fought for the incredible wages that allowed me to construct a dwelling for myself and my household…the residuals that obtained me by way of down durations… my unbelievable healthcare… the safety of a pension… and the inventive rights I relied upon to convey my visions to life.
“That all changed when I met past president and Guild giant Michael Apted, who we sadly lost earlier this year. It is because of Michael that I first got involved in Guild service. At an innocent lunch, he asked me for help, and I took the bait. I remember looking at him back then, in awe of his commitment as he took on this full-time role of President, on top of his demanding full-time day job. But Michael knew something that I didn’t know yet. And as my second presidential term winds to a close, I too have come to find out that living up to the duty and honor of this very challenging position is also its greatest reward.”
Schlamme, who has gained 9 Primetime Emmys – together with seven for The West Wing – has additionally gained 5 DGA Awards, together with the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 2017 for his service to the guild.
Reflecting on his journey, Schlamme says he was reminded of a quote from the e book The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, wherein historian Jon Meacham writes: “What counts is not just the character of the individual at the top,” Meacham wrote, “but the character of the country, its inclinations, its aspirations, its customs, its thoughts, its attachments to the familiar and its openness to the new…”
Schlamme famous that “Though Meacham was speaking concerning the nation, these phrases ring simply as true for us. We are 18,000 sturdy – with a collective character so suited to rise to the large obstacles of our time.
“That is one thing we’d like now greater than ever because the challenges on the horizon on this second of transition solely intensify. We might want to stand collectively to proceed to embrace the acquainted and be open to the brand new to maintain our Guild sturdy for the longer term.
“I don’t doubt for a second that we’ve got what it takes. But we’d like you. Speak up and be a part of this various household. It is that collective, evolving character of ours to at all times study, to at all times do higher, and to at all times strive more durable that makes us who we’re—unified, daring and unstoppable.
“The indelible emotions I felt looking at those screens many years ago never go away. They actually get stronger. Much like our Guild.”
Signing off, he stated: “It has been my honor to serve. With gratitude.”