Quebec television directors hike rates

Montreal: Directors working in English-language television in Quebec have increased their minimum rates by 4% for low-budget episodic series and up to 24% for high-budget production. The new rate structure from the Quebec District Council of the Directors Guild of Canada also introduces new perpetuity and standalone compact-device buyout options.

The rate increase for tv movies, miniseries, pilots, spin-offs and drama specials ranges from 3.5% to 24%.

Fortner Anderson, the qdc’s business agent, says remuneration rates for directors hadn’t been raised since 1991 while rates in Ontario, Vancouver and Nova Scotia have increased ‘at least two times’ during the period. ‘There’s been a tremendous amount of pressure from the membership to push them to a more realistic market level,’ he says.

Anderson says the new rates ‘are slightly less, but comparable to Ontario.’

Agreements between dgc directors and producers are signed on a project-by-project basis.

‘The new structure offers producers a couple of new opportunities – the option for a perpetual buyout, or to limit the buyout to compact [videocassette] use,’ says Anderson.

The perpetual buyout condition becomes a standard option in contracts.

Producers have the option of buying tv rights in perpetuity for all television motion pictures (defined as made-for-tv movies and miniseries) for 75% of a director’s total fee, with payment due at the time of production. High-volume strip programming – typically soaps and other dramas telecast daily and three-camera series originated on videotape – will be subject to a separate rate schedule, likely to be published within the next couple of months.

Buyouts for tv distribution are scaled from years one to five (55%), with an additional 6% prepayment charge for each additional year, payable prior to the date of use. In the past, producers had signed a basic qdc agreement allowing them to pick up rights over five years at the 50% buyout rate. The new five-year buyout structure effectively increases that rate by 10%.

‘A new category of buyout has been added as well, and that is the compact device [standalone delivery categories including videocassette, dvd, etc.],’ says Anderson.

The buyout for compact-device use for North American rights (as well as for world rights excluding North America) in perpetuity is 30% of the director’s total fee. A worldwide rights buyout in perpetuity for compact use is 50%, 110% for combined worldwide tv and compact device. In the less common circumstance when tv productions are picked up for theatrical distribution, the ‘life after cable syndrome,’ the buyout rate for non-Canadian productions is 40%, 20% on Canadian productions.

The new pay structure for directors working in tv drama now includes a guaranteed number of working days, including both shooting and preproduction.

For example, the guaranteed minimums on a 90-minute tv movie are 30 days (shoot and prep) at a rate of $37,095 for tier-one productions (defined as under $4.5 million), and up to $44,435 for a tier-three production (over $8 million.)

On half-hour tv series, the minimum rates for directors is set at 10 days (shoot and prep) and $7,660 for tier-one productions (under $300,00 per episode), and $8,750 for tier two (over $300,000 to $500,000 per episode).

qdc contracts specify additional director charges for working days over the minimum.