Verdi signs contract with Netflix, which devalues ​​directors

netflix and United Services Union Verdi have agreed that, from July 1, both the collective agreement for film and television workers employed for the duration of production and the collective wage agreement between Verdi and the Producers Alliance will form the basis of the reward in the production chain. . The agreement also stipulated a minimum fee for board members.

The Federal Association of Managers (BVR) protested the system, calling it “a taboo”. The Federal Society, with more than 550 members, is one of the largest professional associations in the film industry. In BVR’s view, the agreement with Netflix is ​​neither a collective agreement nor a joint bonus base, but a “bargain” unfavorable to managers.

Rarely is any director represented in Verdi

Jobst Oetzmann, director, screenwriter and member of the BVR Executive Board’s advisory board, says the “reward for creation and use of work” negotiating area is traditionally given by BVR, because Verdi does not represent fancy directive. The Syndicate has hardly any members in this field, and is therefore not representative of representing the interests of directors of novels in commissioned productions.

Therefore, the Federal Association of Directors negotiates remuneration rules for directors for all long format formats with public and private broadcasting groups as well as with the Producers Alliance. The Directors’ Association has come up with general rules for remuneration, as permitted by law since 2002. It works by empowering its members and fulfilling legal requirements, above all representation and freedom from opponents.

According to Oetzmann, bonuses offered to live broadcasters must take into account the conditions under which the films or series are produced and how they are used. An example is the DGA (Managers Guild of America) regulations. There, payment is made for creating the work, according to certain conditions, formats and times, then the range of rights according to regions, times of transmission, the number of subscribers and according to success. The fee Verdi negotiated with Netflix did not take this into account. It is remarkably low and only metered according to budgets.

Verdi gets involved in the controversy

In the interview, the director and screenwriter notes that the Federal Association of Directors has been in negotiations with Netflix for the same region – 45 Minutes of Fiction – since 2020 and that they announced a few weeks ago that the negotiations had failed. “So Verdi is struggling in the upcoming arbitration proceedings between BVR and Netflix.”

According to the directors’ union’s calculations, the outcome of the contract means that the director’s fee is one-third of that of the United States or other countries. Netflix’s goal is clear: low-wage countries will be created and production will be moved to them. If these become more expensive, one will find new low-wage countries and move there. For the guild involved, this is a strange role reversal, even if it is just about ‘only’ the direction: freshmen in the weak competition. Netflix announced a few weeks ago that it was not prepared to pay the appropriate fees in Denmark, and announced that they would boycott the production site in Denmark.

BVR will continue to arbitrate. In the end there will be an agreement with Netflix or an arbitration award. The arbitrator’s judgment, shown by experience with ARD, indicates appropriateness. Oetzmann says broadcasters and producers will accept this even if no agreement is reached. According to the Netflix Directors Association, arbitration will not be excluded. There is no reason why Netflix, with its German productions and worldwide use, should not be subject to copyright law with its explicit requirements for proper reward. International platforms must be subject to European and German law just like everyone else. Anything else would be a failure for the legislature, says Jobst Ötzmann.

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