We invite you to explore our past 77 years by clicking on the timeline above. Each year contains a summary of the year’s key events and major accomplishments, often accompanied by articles and historical photos.
The Directors Guild of America is a labor organization that represents the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports and new media.
Founded in 1936 when a small group of the best-known directors of the time joined together to protect the economic and creative rights of directors in motion pictures, the DGA is the world’s preeminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team, including Directors, Assistant Directors, Unit Production Managers, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates – 15,000 strong worldwide.
DGA President Paris Barclay and DGA National Executive Director Jay Roth
The DGA is governed by an elected National Board of Directors made up of actively working DGA members and is managed by a professional staff of 140 in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Guild departments that service the members include Communications, Contracts, Credits, Legal, Membership, Operations, Reports Compliance, Research, Residuals, Signatories, and Special Projects working actively to monitor and enforce Guild collective bargaining agreements, communicate important issues to the membership and the public, and program special events designed to educate, strengthen and enhance the Guild community. The professional staff works with the best outside law firms, accountants and auditors to assist them as needed in serving the membership.
In addition to the National Board, the membership is represented by six councils of elected members that are designated by categories (Directors; Assistant Directors and Unit Production Managers; and Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates) and geographic area (East; West). Diversity, coordinating and special committees represent additional member groups and activities.
On behalf of its members, the Guild negotiates industry-wide agreements governing the minimum compensation, benefits, working conditions and duties of DGA members. Through its negotiations, the DGA has achieved significant gains for our members including world-class pension and health plans, residuals provisions that enable members to financially benefit from the reuse of their work and the development of flexible and low-budget agreements that allow even the lowest-budgeted films and television to be made under a DGA agreement. The Guild provides its members with an infrastructure and safety net that enables directors and their teams to flourish while knowing that the Guild is here to support them.
Benefits of DGA membership include:
On behalf of its members, the Guild negotiates industry-wide agreements governing the minimum compensation (salary), benefits, working conditions and duties of DGA members. Negotiating these collective bargaining agreements provides the DGA with the opportunity to address changes in the industry and to negotiate further gains for DGA members.
Directors are guaranteed the right to be actively involved in all aspects of the filmmaking process, including (but not limited to): one director to a film; the right to a designated period of time to edit the first version of a motion picture or television episode without any interference; the right to select the First AD; the right to participate in casting; the right to direct all reshoots or additional photography and ADR.
Pension and Health Plans
The DGA Pension and Health Plans are among the very best available anywhere, and one of the best ways the Guild looks out for our members. Once eligible by achieving the requisite minimum earnings each year, members are entitled to high-quality health coverage for themselves and their families, and can build toward future retirement through the Pension Plan.
DGA contracts provide the right to payments, called residuals, for the distribution or exhibition of feature films and most television beyond their initial release. These residuals include television reruns, basic cable exhibition, home video and digital exploitation. Residuals represent significant income for DGA members ($300 million annually), help fund the Pension and Health Plans, and are one of the greatest financial advantages of being a DGA member.
Contractual & Legal Protection
DGA contracts guarantee members certain minimum rights regarding compensation, working conditions and creative rights. The Guild represents members in enforcing these rights, as well as certain rights that arise from a member’s personal services agreement. Many times, DGA field representatives, executives or other Guild staff members can resolve a dispute by discussing it with an Employer. If informal avenues do not lead to a resolution, the dispute may result in a grievance or be referred to the DGA’s Legal Department to file an arbitration claim. If necessary, the Guild may go to court to enforce an arbitrator’s award.
The DGA hosts numerous seminars, workshops and cultural events each year through our various Committees, Councils and Special Projects Department. These programs are designed to heighten the profile of directors and their teams within the industry, help our members stay abreast of the latest trends in the art and craft of filmmaking and allow them to add new skills or brush up on old ones.
The Guild operates an extensive theatrical screening program at its state-of-the-art theaters in Los Angeles and New York, and additional screenings in Chicago, San Francisco, London and Washington, D.C. Members also have free access to certain public screenings in commercial theaters and are eligible to receive “for your consideration” screeners and information about private screenings hosted by studios and distributors.