The primary duty of a Trainee is to assist the DGA staff as well as the producer in the performance of their duties. A Trainee must be flexible in interacting with the various personalities on a set and in coping with quickly changing circumstances and conditions during the workday. S/he must take direction well, have an ability to organize and prioritize, and be able to withstand high levels of stress. A Trainee must be able to read, write, and communicate very well and must have basic mathematic and accounting skills.
The position of Trainee can be physically demanding. A Trainee must be able to be on time for all calls and to stay on a set for long hours, in extreme weather conditions (heat, cold, rain, snow and wind) with little rest time. There is no flexibility in establishing a schedule. Trainees are at the beck and call of the producers and directors and must be available for calls seven days a week, 24 hours a day. A Trainee may be required to stand for long period of time, to run, to climb, and to lift and carry equipment.
A Trainee must understand that the film business in NY is not constant. Acceptance into the Program does not represent a guarantee of consecutive assignments. Trainees must be prepared to cope with periods of unemployment, like many people who work in the entertainment industry. When not assigned to a production, Trainees may need to supplement their income with short term employment.
ON THE JOB TRAINING
350 days of on set production work is required. Trainees work on feature films,TV and commercials shot on film for companies that have a contractual relationship with the Directors Guild of America. In order to be exposed to many types of productions, Trainees are assigned to projects by the Program. They cannot choose the projects, nor can a production request a particular Trainee. During the course of two years, a Trainee will work on a variety of productions which may include full length feature films (high or low budget), episodic television, TV movies, commercials, etc.
After each assignment, individual performances are evaluated by the Assistant Directors and Unit Production Mangers in writing. Evaluations are reviewed by the Program Administrator and the Trustees. Meetings are conducted with individual Trainees to review their performance on an ongoing basis.
The Program is a feature of the collective bargaining agreement between the Directors Guild of America and both the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers for the Eastern Region (AICP). Trainees are paid by signatory producers at rates that have been determined by DGA/Producer negotiation. When assigned to a production, the Trainee becomes an employee of the production company. Trainee weekly salary rates increase over the two year period on a quarterly (six month) basis as follows:
1st quarter: $781
2nd quarter: $839
3rd quarter: $899
4th quarter: $959
Trainees are entitled to overtime pay after working 54 hours in a week. Trainees generally work between 70-90 hours during a 5 day work week. While participating in the Program, Trainees are provided with health insurance, at no cost.
Trainees are required to attend regularly scheduled monthly seminars. They are generally held on Saturdays. Designed to increase knowledge of the Industry, these seminars cover a wide range of related topics. They are conducted by such professionals as ADs, UPMs and various representatives and craftspeople from other film unions. Through these seminars, Trainees have the opportunity to learn more about topics such as film editing, stunts and safety, setting background actors and sound mixing.
Acceptance into the Program is not a guarantee of graduation. Trainees are graduated upon successful completion of all requirements of the Program, at which time they are eligible to join the DGA as Second Assistant Directors.