Creative Rights

Jonathan Mostow
Jonathan Mostow
Christopher Nolan
DGA Creative Rights Handbook 2020-2023
Download a PDF of the full DGA Creative Rights Handbook 2020-2023.

To browse sections of the handbook online please click on the CREATIVE RIGHTS LINKS to the right.

Dear Colleague,

The purpose of this Creative Rights Handbook is to help raise awareness of your rights, which span all phases of production. Whether you are a veteran director or new to the guild, we encourage you to take a few moments and acquaint yourself with these provisions, several of which have changed since the previous publication of this handbook.

We achieved a number of significant improvements in Creative Rights in the last round of negotiations, both in features and in television.

In features, we secured much needed updates to the pseudonym process (8-211) and negotiated a new procedure that applies when an Employer want to replace an editor (7-209). In addition, we enhanced the notice provisions and your right to request a label indicating the running time or aspect ratio of a theatrical motion picture has been changed for any domestic ancillary exploitation of the film.

In television, we engaged in serious discussions with the studios regarding the Director’s participation in casting, which resulted in a commitment from the studios to encourage “in-person” casting sessions with the talent. Several other important gains were made for Directors of episodic series.

It is important for every member to understand that these are “use them or lose them” rights; each time we choose not to exercise them, we further the chances of their erosion.

As you enjoy the benefits of DGA creative rights on your next directing assignment, hold a special thought for the Directors who have fought battle after battle to win these protections for us all. And if you find yourself with any creative rights questions or problems, please call the DGA.


Jonathan Mostow
Christopher Nolan
Co-Chairs, DGA Creative Rights Committee


Thomas Schlamme
Thomas Schlamme
Nicole Kassell
Nicole Kassell


The Television Subcommittee of the DGA Creative Rights Committee seeks to raise member awareness of rights that have already been established and address various challenges that still remain.


The companies feared a "Director's Cut" would mean increased post-production costs. Capra proposed that the companies and the DGA draw up a list of the top 12 Directors in the world. In the event that any Director held up post-production in the way that the companies feared, the Guild, at its own expense, would fly in any one of those Directors from anywhere in the world to finish that work, even if it was only a half-hour TV show. Impressed by the sincerity of the proposal, the studio heads agreed that the Director is entitled to prepare his or her cut of the film.

"The difficulty arose because the only right we had in the contract back then in the early '60s was to make suggestions for improvements in a 'rough cut' to the associate producer. We called many directors together and all of them agreed that they were having similar problems. So we met under the supervision of Joe Youngerman over a period of time to see if we could draft what we called a 'Bill of Creative Rights.' George Sidney, who was President of the Guild at the time, asked Frank Capra to chair a special negotiating committee to obtain acknowledgment of these rights. And that's how it started."

Elliot Silverstein, original member of the 1964 DGA Creative Rights Committee and Chairman from 1968–1992.

"We gotta show 'em how much we care!"

Frank Capra, first Chairman of the DGA Creative Rights Committee, recommending to his directorial colleagues in 1964 the way to convince studio heads that directors should be entitled to a "Director's Cut."