Sturla Gunnarson on the merits of DGC Membership for DOC Members

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The DGC is a labour organization and the bulk of membership benefits
flow from the existence of a collective agreement. These include: the
best medical/dental/health care plan in the country, a retirement
savings plan, a collective agreement with meaningful minimum rates,
creative rights and enforcement mechanisms. The Guild also represents
the collective voice of creators in the screen-based industries and as
such is an effective voice in the national public policy discourse,
advocating on behalf of our members and the industry at the
parliamentary and cabinet level as well as at agencies including CRTC,
CMF, Telefilm Canada, and the CBC.

The Guild currently has a negotiated collective agreement only with
the NFB and therefore can offer tangible benefits only to
documentarians working on NFB productions and co-productions. Non-
tangible benefits include belonging to a community of filmmakers,
helping to shape its policy and philosophy and having an effective
voice in shaping the industry we work in. The Guild’s long-term
objective is to negotiate collective agreements for all documentarians
and we are currently engaged in an outreach campaign which includes
the suspension of both initiation fees and annual dues for documentary
filmmakers who wish to join. We have recently welcomed over forty new
members from the documentary community, including some of Canada’s
most respected filmmakers and look forward to the cultural shifts
within the Guild that will result from an influx of documentary

There are areas of common interest with DOC and areas where our
interests diverge. For example, most DOC members are producers as
well as being filmmakers and as such, resist the idea of being bound
by a collective agreement. Many existing DGC directors are also
entrepreneurs and have wrestled with the same issue. Most of us have
concluded that our passion for filmmaking inevitably results in us
shamelessly exploiting ourselves and that it’s in our own best
interest to belong to an organization that protects us from our own
worst instincts.

The organizations diverge somewhat on the copyright front as well,
though we share many of the same values. DOC members have a strong
interest in fair use and tend toward the copy-left. DGC is concerned
about intellectual property and assuring that filmmakers have an
ongoing economic relationship with their work — our primary input
into the proposed new legislation revolves around recognition of
directors as authors and the copyright benefits that flow from there.
We’re not at opposite ends of the spectrum on this issue and I think
we’re capable of developing a nuanced position together.

We’re facing tough times ahead both economically and politically and
it’s imperative that filmmakers coalesce as a community, identify
their common interests and articulate them forcefully with a single
voice. The DGC has a long tradition of documentarians at the helm,
has a clearly expressed desire to embrace the documentary community,
and has the resources to help advance their issues.

Sturla Gunnarsson
Directors Guild of Canada

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