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Directors Guild of America president Thomas Schlamme is stepping down after four years in the role next month.
The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip director and executive producer penned a farewell letter to Guild members that was printed in the September edition of the DGA Monthly magazine and published online on Monday. (It is traditional for DGA presidents to leave the role after two terms.) “I will be stepping down at our upcoming Biennial Convention — and look forward to a new voice leading us,” he wrote. “It has been my honor to serve.”
The craft union’s next leader will be chosen at the Biennial Convention on Sept. 18. Schlamme was first elected to the role at the Convention in 2017, taking over from outgoing leader Paris Barclay, and was re-elected in 2019.
In his letter, Schlamme celebrates the Guild’s gains during his time at the helm, including its 2017 contract negotiations, “where we achieved a tripling of made-for-SVOD residuals at a crucial inflection point of major technological change.” He touts victories in made-for-SVOD residuals, pension contributions, income and creative rights for TV directors in the Guild’s subsequent contract, and the organized labor teamwork that went into creating safety protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic. “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,” he writes.
The outgoing president also offers some thoughts as to the future, arguing that the Guild will need to lean on its “collective character” as “the challenges on the horizon in this moment of transition only intensify.” He adds, “I don’t doubt for a second that we have what it takes. But we need you. Speak up and be part of this diverse family. It is that collective, evolving character of ours to always learn, to always do better, and to always try harder that makes us who we are — unified, bold and unstoppable.”
Prior to serving as president, Schlamme served on the DGA’s National Board since 2005 and worked as its third and fifth vice president. He co-chaired the Guild’s 2014 and 2017 Negotiations Committee and was a founding member of its Political Action Committee’s Leadership Council.
With recent work on FX’s Snowfall and HBO’s The Plot Against America, Schlamme is also the recipient of four DGA Awards in addition to the Guild’s Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award.
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