A key strategist in the final rounds of the battle to establish the Guild was its attorney, Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who arranged for the pivotal hearings before the National Labor Relations Board in Washington and also drafted the Basic Agreement of 1939, the Guild’s first contract with the studios.
To understand how directors formed a guild - and, even more important, why they formed a guild - it's necessary to look at labor conditions in Hollywood in the '20s and early '30s.
The Guild and many prominent directors volunteered their creative talents to help win World War II. Their films from the front left a lasting record.
When President Frank Capra boldly threatened to boycott the Academy Awards in 1939, the Producers Association finally accepted the Guild.
As television arrived in the late ’40s and ’50s, the job of directing TV was defined. For young directors, it was the time of their lives.
The merger of East and West Coast directors in 1960 led to many of the benefits members enjoy today.