1936; 81 years ago (1936)
Paris Barclay, President Vincent Misiano, Vice President Michael Apted, Secretary-Treasurer Jay D. Roth, National Executive Director
7920 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90046
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) is an entertainment guild which represents the interests of film and television directors in the United States motion picture industry and abroad. Founded as the Screen Directors Guild in 1936, the group merged with the Radio and Television Directors Guild in 1960 to become the modern Directors Guild of America.
As a union that seeks to organize an individual profession, rather than multiple professions across an industry, the DGA is a craft union. It represents directors and members of the directorial team (assistant directors, unit production managers, stage managers, associate directors, production associates, and location managers (in New York and Chicago)) that representation includes all sorts of media, such as film, television, documentaries, news, sports, commercials and new media.
The Guild has various training programs whereby successful applicants are placed in various productions and can gain experience working in the film or television industry.
As of 2017, the guild had more than 16,000 members. The DGA headquarters are located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, with satellite offices in New York and Chicago and coordinating committees in San Francisco, Chicago and London.
According to DGA's Department of Labor records, the guild's reported membership classifications currently account for 1,532 "retirees" (about 10% of total membership), 323 "suspended" members (2%), and 5 "life" members (<1%), compared to 13,577 "active" members. "Suspended" members pay dues but are ineligible to vote in the union. DGA contracts also cover some non-members, known as agency fee payers. These non-members currently number 172, or comparatively about 1% of the size of the union's membership.
The agreements signed between the Guild and film and television production companies make various stipulations covering pay and working conditions for Guild members, and require that all those employed in the relevant fields on a film made by that company are Guild members. Guild members are generally prevented from working for companies that have not signed an agreement with the DGA. This sometimes leads production companies which have no such agreement to form new companies, purely for the purpose of making a particular film, which do then sign an agreement with the DGA.
Other than wages and basic working condition the DGA has a particular role in protecting the creative rights of the film director. Such protections that the guild provides include defining the director's role, ensuring, with examples, the principle of "one director to a picture" and the right to prepare a director's cut or edit. Generally each of these protections is to help offset the power that producers can have over a director during the film-making process.
The DGA hosts the annual DGA Awards, an important precursor to the Academy Awards. In its 65-year history, the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film has been a near perfect barometer for the Best Director Academy Award. Only seven times since the DGA Award's inception has the DGA Award winner not won the corresponding Academy Award. Honorees are awarded with a statue, manufactured by New York firm, Society Awards.
The rule that a film can only have one single director was adopted to preserve the continuity of a director's vision and to avoid producers and actors lobbying for a director's credit, or studios hiring multiple directors for a single film or television episode.
The rule is waived only for directorial teams recognized by the DGA who have a history of working together and sharing a common vision. Examples include The Wachowskis, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Hughes brothers, Brothers Strause, and the Coen brothers. The Coens for years divided credit, with Ethan taking producing credit, Joel taking directing credit, and both of them sharing the writing credit (even though the two of them shared all three duties between themselves) until The Ladykillers.
An example of the DGA refusing to recognize a directorial team was Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller for Sin City; they were rejected because they had never worked together before; Rodriguez quit the DGA so that Miller would share director's credit.
In the past, the DGA has also engaged in disputes with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) over possessory credits, first used in the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation. The WGA tried to limit possessory credits to writers, but has always been successfully opposed by the DGA, leaving directors free to try to negotiate such credits if they wish.
Not all Hollywood directors are DGA members. Notable exceptions include George Lucas and Robert Rodriguez. Quentin Tarantino directed six feature films before becoming a DGA member, in 2012. Those who are not members of the guild are unable to direct for the larger movie studios, which are signatories to the guild's agreements that all directors must be guild members.
Paris Barclay has been president of the DGA since 2013. The following are the past Presidents of the Screen Directors Guild and the DGA: