Welcome the first edition of our revamped ADG magazine SCREEN DIRECTOR. Some of our long serving members will remember the previous incarnation of the magazine and how it brought the issues that affect directors into serious debate through articles in the magazine. The ADG feels it is time again to address issues that affect directors in a more considered way. The magazine aims to do this. And keeping up with the times it will be an e-publication suitable for reading on all those electronic devices that we have become accustomed to using. It will also have life as a print publication. Each member of the ADG will receive a traditional print version as part of their membership and also has access to the e-version.
But the real value in having an e-version will be the additional material that is now available online. You will be able to see the short films that are being discussed and listen to podcasts of interviews with directors getting additional material that will not be available in the print edition. There will be links to other sites and further discussions; in short it will open up the magazine to a huge array of content. The magazine will focus on the aesthetics, craft and policy that affect directors’ work in whatever screen medium they direct. There will be interviews with ADG members on their work practices; analysis of styles of directing; a look at policy decisions by our major screen industry bodies; reflections of our history and examples of members’ work.
One of the reasons we have decided to revive the magazine has been the lack of serious and in-depth analysis of the craft of directing. With the demise of a range of publications in the screen world we realised there was no place that the issues that affect directors could be explored, where debates on craft and aesthetics could be aired and where serious analysis of decisions in our industry that affect directors could be analysed. We will be calling on members who have something to add to the craft of directing to submit articles or ideas they have. The editorial committee will actively seek out opinions and expertise from within the membership.
One of the main concerns for the ADG at the moment is our move to be registered under the Fair Work Australia Act and become an effective union. This has been mooted for many years by the membership and will become a reality this year. As we go to press our application for registration has been submitted to Fair Work Australia. This will then begin a process that will take several months depending on the level of objections we receive from our application. We believe any objections will be overcome and it will be only a matter of time before we are registered.
So what will change at the ADG when we have registered?
I think the main change will be our ability to officially begin contract negotiations with organisations such as the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA). As a registered unio we will seek to negotiate contracts for all directors and this will begin with the negotiating of a standard television drama directors’ agreement. The ADG television drama directors have been working with the ADG to develop a standard agreement that will set a benchmark for directors in the television industry. It will be a tough negotiation and just because we have become a union does not mean we will automatically get what we want for directors. It will be a negotiation with our colleagues at SPAA and various production companies who are not members of SPAA. This will cover areas such as remuneration, standard rates, pre-production time, post-production rights and the directors copyright clause.
This last issue is one that has been dogging the ADG since the change to the Copyright Act in 2006. For many years no director was able to get this right included in contracts let alone receive any remuneration from it. It wasn’t until 2012 that a director received money from the retransmission of a program that he directed. This was a breakthrough and allowed us to ramp up the campaign to get the clause inserted into all contracts. And this has happened with many directors successfully negotiating their contracts to include the clause. But there have also been companies refusing to include it. This has led to the ADG beginning a negotiation with SPAA on inclusion of the director’s copyright clause in all contracts by SPAA members. This is ongoing and we believe will be brought to a head when we register as a union.
The other exciting development this year is our partnership with Screen Australia on the creation of the DIRECTOR’S ATTACHMENT SCHEME (DAS). For the first time a national scheme aimed at finding and supporting up-and-coming feature film directors will be implemented on a national basis.
In the first year we will have three attachments on feature films and will work to include television in subsequent years.
The rationale behind the scheme is to create a way for directors to follow a path that will provide them with the legitimate credits to give them a way to become fully professional directors. Our aim is to give those who do one of these attachments a step forward towards their goal of becoming a feature director. With three feature attachments per year we will be able to identify the new and talented crop of directors emerging in the industry.
I recently wrote an article in IF Magazine on the plight of directors in this country. The aim of the article was to highlight the way directors’ work has been reduced from the major creative input to one of a “gun for hire”. This has been particularly evident in the work of television drama directors. We have also seen an assault on the role of documentary directors with a reduction in the number of single documentaries that are currently being supported in the industry. All in all I believe we need to reassert the role of the director in whatever medium as the primary creative force behind the production of screen content.
We hope that the magazine will be a chance for us to articulate the arguments for this and many other issues that affect the craft of the screen director.
Executive Director Australian Directors Guild