Frequently Asked Questions

The Directors Guild of America is a powerful force that can help you realize your vision regardless of budget. Find out what the DGA is all about.


What comes to mind is, ‘all things great and small...’ that’s what the DGA is all about. – Michael Apted, IDC Co-Founder
How do I join the DGA?

As a director, you must either be hired by a signatory company to direct a project or develop a feature length project and make your company/project signatory. On a very select, case-by-case basis, a director who has directed feature films that have bona fide theatrical releases in the United States and have received significant critical acclaim and/or commercial success may be invited to join. In the latter case, the director’s membership application is subject to special review by the appropriate Director’s Council.

Stephen Gyllenhaal
How much is initiation?

The initiation fee for directors joining on low-budget (under $11 million) narrative and documentary features is $3,500, with 40% payable up front and the remainder paid out over a year. The regular (non-low-budget) initiation fee is $11,015 (updated annually on July 1). If you join as a low-budget director, you simply pay the additional $7,515 when you do a “regular” project.

Before I joined the Guild, I felt like I was floating on a raft all by myself, surrounded by sharks. It’s hard to see, particularly as a young filmmaker, that the Guild has been dealing with directors’ concerns for many years and can help pull you off that raft and onto the boat. – Charles Burnett.
How much are dues?

Guild dues are based on DGA earnings. Earnings are reportable, and the corollary dues payable, quarterly. Each member pays basic dues of $50 per quarter. Basic dues are credited against each member’s obligation to pay percentage dues equal to one and one-half percent (1½%) of his or her gross earnings from employment in any Guild category, provided that such dues shall be payable only on gross annual income of between $10,000 and $300,000. In addition, each Guild member also pays dues on one percent (1%) of the total residuals of all types he or she receives pursuant to employment under a DGA collective bargaining agreement.

Jamie Babbit & Angela Robinson
If I am a member of the DGA and want to make a low-budget or no-budget feature, documentary or new media project, does it have to be covered under a DGA contract?


Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton
Do I have to hire a full DGA staff?

Usually. However, the DGA will consider reduced staffing on a case-by-case basis, but you must contact the Guild to discuss this issue before you start production.

What are the pay rates?
Miguel Arteta

The minimum salaries for directors and their teams are budget-dependent. Under the Guild’s low budget agreement, these minimums are percentages of the “scale” rates in the DGA Basic Agreement governing higher budget films and television productions.

Other waivers of basic minimums apply to each budget level; for example, there is no vacation or unworked holiday pay due until Level 4c. (Please see the DGA Contracts section for a complete copy of the Low Budget Agreement and for Rate Cards with percentages of scale conveniently calculated for each budget level.)





Level 1a




Level 1b

$500,000 - $1,100,000


33% of scale

Level 2

$1,100,000 - $2,600,000


50% of scale

Level 3

$2,600,000 - $3,750,000


60% of scale

Level 4a

$3,750,000 - $5,500,000

75% of scale

70% of scale

Level 4b

$5,500,000 - $8,500,000

75% of scale

80% of scale

Level 4c

$8,500,000 - $11,000,000

90% of scale

90% of scale

Kimberly Peirce
If I am a director member living outside the U.S., is it possible for my feature films shot outside the U.S. to be covered under a DGA agreement?

Yes. The Guild has developed an international agreement specifically designed to address the needs of directors living and working outside the United States and/or who are citizens of other countries. Please contact DGA staff for more information.

Many times, particularly on low-budget films, the director is in a very vulnerable position. I joined the DGA because I wanted the support of that institution behind me in the event that something went wrong. –Tom DiCillo
Who can I contact for more information?

Filmmakers or employers who would like more information on the benefits of Guild membership and working under the DGA’s Low Budget Agreement should contact:

    • Lisa Layer in Los Angeles: 310-289-2067
    • DGA Offices in New York: 212-258-0800