Summary of Directors' Creative Rights Under the Directors Guild of America Basic Agreement of 2020 - Features & Long-Form Television

Following is a summary of Directors’ creative rights for theatrical motion pictures and long-form television under Article 7 of the Directors Guild of America Basic Agreement of 2020. It is not intended to change or interpret Article 7. If there is any difference between this summary and the Basic Agreement, the Basic Agreement is controlling. Therefore, you should not rely solely upon this summary. Basic Agreement paragraph numbers are cited in the summary for your convenience.


1. The Director's Function

The Director contributes to all creative elements relating to the making of a motion picture and participates in molding and integrating them into one dramatic and aesthetic whole. (7-101)

2.  One Director To A Picture

With few exceptions, only one Director may be assigned to a motion picture at any given time. (7-208) Only the Director assigned to a motion picture may direct it. (7-101)

3.  Creative Decisions

From the time you are hired or assigned to the picture until the end of post-production, you must be informed as soon as possible of any proposal, and, if reasonably available, you have the right to participate in all decisions concerning the selection of cast and other creative personnel, approval rights to third parties and any other creative matter involving the production (for example, the script, locations, set designs and constructions, shooting schedule and post-production scheduling). In no case should any creative decision be made about preparation, production and post-production unless the Producer consults with you. The Producer should, in good faith, consider your advice and suggestions. (7-202, 7-1501)

4. Deal Memorandum

The individual with final cutting authority over a motion picture must be designated in your Deal Memorandum. If that person leaves the company, his or her successor must be of equivalent rank and must be designated within a reasonable time. If the company fails to designate a successor, you have the right to select one from three persons submitted by the company. (7-206)

The intended post-production locale must also be mentioned in your Deal Memorandum. (7-506)

5. Production Executives

You may contact the executive in charge of production if you have a dispute with the individual in charge of the film. (7-207)

6. Third-Party Agreements

The Producer may not make an agreement with a third party, the terms of which require the Producer to breach its obligations to your creative rights under either the Basic Agreement or your individual contract. Nor may the Producer negotiate a provision in any other collective bargaining agreement that infringes upon your creative rights under the Basic Agreement. (7-1502)

7. No Retaliation

The Producer may not discriminate or retaliate against you because you assert your creative rights under the Basic Agreement. (7-1503)

8. Replacing A Director

Except in an emergency (and then, only for five days), no person already assigned to the motion picture may replace you. (7-1401) Arbitration decisions confirm that the Producer may not create an “emergency” by terminating your employment.


1.  Disclosure Before Assignment

Before you are assigned to a film, the Producer must inform you of: (1) the creative personnel already employed; (2) existing film contemplated to be used; (3) any rights of script or cast approval held by someone other than the Employer or individual Producer; (4) the motion picture’s top sheet and (5) the story and script, if any. The Producer should also fully disclose to you all other creative commitments relating to the picture. (7-201)

2.  Office, Parking & Transportation

The Producer must provide you a private office at the studio and a private facility on or next to the set. The office must be large enough for at least two people and have a door that shuts, adequate ventilation, a telephone, a desk and desk chair, and good lighting. The Producer must use its best efforts to provide reasonable parking at no cost to you. (7-403)

If the Producer provides a private facility for others at a distant location, it must also provide you with a private facility. Upon your request, the Producer must provide you with private transportation to and from local locations, unless this increases the Producer’s costs. (7-403)

3.  Delivery of Script

After your assignment, at your request the Producer must promptly submit to you any script or outline and any revisions. All revisions made later must be submitted to you before they are made available for general distribution. The individual Producer or another appropriate person must confer with you about changes to the script and consider your recommendations. (7-301)

4.  Selection of DGA Crew

The Producer must consult with you about the selection of any Second Unit Director. (7-205) If you and the Producer disagree over the selection of the Second Unit Director, Paragraph 7-205 provides a procedure for selecting a Second Unit Director acceptable to both you and the Producer. You have the right to select the First Assistant Director. (7-204) The Producer must consult with you about the selection of the Unit Production Manager for any theatrical motion picture or non-episodic television program. (7-203)

5.  Casting Sessions

The only persons who may attend casting sessions are those who have a reasonable purpose for being there and who are invited by you, the individual Producer or the Employer. (7-1504)

6. Second Units

Before principal photography starts, the Producer should inform you of the material intended to be shot by a second unit. The Producer may not later schedule new second unit work, unless certain circumstances arise which could not have been reasonably anticipated. (7-404) The Producer must give you an opportunity to consult with the Second Unit Director about the manner in which the second unit photography will be shot. (7-205)

7. Budget and Shooting Schedule

The Producer may not in bad faith or capriciously reduce the budget or the shooting schedule. (7-201)

8. Stunts

The Producer may not increase the difficulty of a stunt in the shooting script delivered to you, or later add a stunt to this script, unless you consent. (7-303)

9. Video Assist

You have the discretion choose to use video assist or not utilize it on features and long form television motion pictures. On feature films only, if you choose to use video assist, you must be allowed to determine the number and placement of monitors to be used. (7-406)

10. Electronic Transmissions

The Producer may not electronically transmit from the stage any image or sound without first informing you. (7-1505)

11. Dailies

You must have the opportunity to see the dailies of each day’s photography at a reasonable time. (7-401) If you so request before departure for a distant location, the Producer must provide you on distant location with interlocking sound and picture projection facilities or their equivalent for the viewing of dailies. (7-402) The Producer must ship these dailies to the distant location within 24 hours (excluding Saturday, Sunday and holidays) after synchronization. (7-401)

12. Special Photography & Processes

Before completion of principal photography, the Producer must inform you about any intent to use special photography and processes, and permit you to participate in considerations about their use. After principal photography, you must be consulted about and participate in the consideration of using such special photography and processes, if you are available. (7-405)


1. Vesting of Rights

If you direct 100% of scheduled principal photography, you may not be replaced except for gross willful misconduct. (7-503) You must be given the opportunity to direct additional photography and retakes, and, if unavailable, you must have the opportunity to consult with the person who directs these. (7-1001)

If you direct at least 90% of scheduled principal photography, you are entitled to all post-production creative rights, unless you were primarily responsible for the motion picture going over budget or your replacement directs more than 10% of all principal photography, no part of which was shot to defeat your rights. (7-503)

2.  Post-Production At A Distant Location

When post-production takes place at a distant location, the Employer must pay for your transportation, hotel and meals while you perform post-production services. (7-506)

3.  Editor’s Assembly

Only the Editor and the Editor’s immediate staff may view the Editor’s Assembly before you. You have the right to view the Assembly as soon as it is finished and may request that no other person, except the Editor and Editor’s staff, view the Assembly for 24 hours after you view it. (7-505)

4.  Preparing the Director’s Cut

The Director’s right to prepare his or her Director’s Cut is absolute. (7-508) You must supervise the editing of the first cut following completion of the Editor’s Assembly. You have the right to instruct the Editor and to make whatever changes you deem necessary in preparing the Director’s Cut. (7-505)

No one can interfere with or cut behind you during the period of the Director’s Cut. (7-504)

The Producer must give you time to complete the Director’s Cut as follows:


Ten weeks, or one day of editing for each two days of scheduled photography, whichever is longer. (7-505(b))

Certain creative rights, particularly the amount of cutting time, have been modified in the DGA Low Budget Agreement. If you have any questions regarding your creative rights for low budget theatrical motion pictures, please call the Contracts Department at (310) 289-2010.

  • 91 minutes to 2 hours: 20 days
  • Each additional hour in excess of 2 hours: 5 days (7-505(b))

If your Director’s cutting time is abbreviated due to a release or delivery date, and that date is postponed, you must be given more time to complete your cut. (7-505(i))

You may delegate the assembly of second unit photography to the Second Unit Director. (7-205)

5.  Viewing the Director’s Cut

Only the individual Producer and the person with final cutting authority are entitled to see the first screening of the Director’s Cut. (7-505(d))

You have the right to request a preview of the Director’s Cut of a theatrical motion picture before a public audience or, at the Producer’s choice, a private audience of no less than 100 persons (excluding relatives and employees). (7-505(e)) This preview cannot be conducted using the “Avid output” or other substandard processes. (7-705)

If your theatrical or long-form television motion picture involves substantial effects, you must be allowed to incorporate reasonable temp effects (and have additional cutting time necessary to do so) for the preview of your Director’s Cut. (7-505(h))

6.  Replacement of the Editor – Theatrical Motion Pictures Only

If the Producer intends to terminate the editor’s employment on a theatrical motion picture, you must be notified at least two business days prior to the termination. During that two-day period, you have the right to consult with the Producer regarding the decision to terminate the editor and the selection of the replacement editor. The Producer has the final decision regarding the termination of the editor and selection of the replacement editor, unless you have overscale approval rights concerning those matters. (7-209)

7.  Right To Be Present and To Consult Throughout Post-Production

You must be notified of the date, time and place of each post-production operation. (7-506)

The Producer must allow you to be present at all times and be consulted throughout the entire post-production period. You must have a reasonable opportunity to discuss the last version of the film before negative cutting or dubbing, whichever is first. (7-506)

The Producer may not use the company’s scheduling authority or the post-production locale to undermine your creative rights. (7-506, 7-512)

8.  Looping and Narration

Looping and narration must be directed by you (7-1101) as long as you are available at the time, place and cost the Employer scheduled. It is the Producer’s obligation to send you to the place where looping or narration is recorded unless it is minor in nature. (7-1102) If unavailable, you must be consulted about the selection of a substitute and be allowed to explain to the substitute your ideas on the work to be done. (7-1103)

With respect to long-form television, if you are not sent to the place of looping, the Producer must provide communication to the looping site through ISDN, T-1 line or a similar device if readily available. (7-1104)

9. Spotting and Dubbing

The Producer must give you the opportunity to take part in the spotting and dubbing of sound and music, provided such participation does not increase costs. (7-1201)

10. Motion Picture Rating

If the Employer appeals the rating given by the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration, you have the right to participate fully in the proceedings before the CARA’s Appeals Board. If the Producer wants to change the film to achieve a desired rating, he or she must give you the opportunity to make the changes.

If the Employer does not designate you as one of the Employer’s representatives to the MPAA’s CARA, the designated representative must promptly advise you of any communications with CARA. You must be informed fully and accurately of CARA’s concerns and consulted in good faith with respect to any actions to be taken. (7-515)

11. Previews of Theatrical Films

The Producer must give you (or the DGA if you cannot be reached) five days’ advance notice of the time and place of all previews of a theatrical film. (7-701) If the first preview is outside Los Angeles or Orange County, the Producer must provide you with first-class travel and lodging. (7-702) The Producer must have at least one public or private showing of the film. (7-704)


1.  Colorizing, Panning and Scanning, Etc. - Theatrical Films

The Producer must consult with you concerning colorizing, panning and scanning, time compression and changes made to exhibit the film in 3D. (7-513)

2.  DVD Release

You must be advised of the schedule for release(s) of the domestic DVD as soon as it is determined. The Producer must consult with you concerning the content of the DVD in a timely manner to allow full consideration of your input. (7-521)

3.  Television Release of Theatrical Film

The Producer must try to license theatrical motion pictures for network broadcast so that they will be broadcast with no changes except those required by Network Broadcast Standards and Practices. To the extent practical, the production company – not the network – should oversee any necessary editing.

You must be given notice of the amount of time to be added or removed and any change to the aspect ratio, and the first opportunity to make the required cuts. If the Director is deceased, the DGA will select another Director to make these cuts. (7-509(b))

If the license with the network provides that the network will edit the motion picture, the Producer must obligate the network to consult with you. You and the Producer are required to abide by procedures set forth in this Paragraph. (7-509(c))

If the Producer decides to edit a motion picture at the Producer’s facilities for the purpose of syndication, you, if available, must be given the opportunity to edit the motion picture. (7-509(d))

4.  In-Flight Exhibition of Theatrical Film

The Producer may not edit or permit a licensee to edit a feature-length theatrical motion picture down to an in-flight version shorter than its generally released version. However, if the film is longer than two hours, it may be cut to two hours in length. (7-509(f))

5.  Other Versions of Theatrical Films

If the Producer wants to change a motion picture for distribution on DVD, basic cable, domestically in New Media, or in-flight, you must be given notice of the amount of time to be added or removed and any change to the aspect ratio, and you must edit the new version or be consulted about the changes in the same manner as you would edit or be consulted in connection with changes for television. (7-509(g))

6.  Request for a Label - Theatrical Films

If a theatrical motion picture is to be exhibited in an ancillary market with a running time, format, or aspect ratio different from the domestic theatrical release version, you may send to the Producer a written request of the licensee to display a label, in the form of a disclaimer, prior to the commencement of the exhibition of the motion picture. (7-522)

7.  Photography Added to Theatrical Film

The Producer must give you the opportunity to direct photography added to a theatrical film beyond its theatrical version. (7-509(e))

8.  Foreign Theatrical Release of Television Films

If a television motion picture is to be cut in the United States for foreign theatrical release, you must have the opportunity to prepare a Director’s Cut. (7-1301)

9. Release of Director’s Cut of a Theatrical Film

The Producer may not release a version of your theatrical film identified as the "Director’s Cut" unless it has been so identified by you. (7-518)