Summary of Directors' Creative Rights Under the Directors Guild of America Basic Agreement of 2023 - Episodic Television & High-Budget SVOD Series

Following is a summary of Directors’ creative rights for episodic television and high budget SVOD series under Article 7 of the Directors Guild of America Basic Agreement of 2023. The references below to "motion picture" or "motion pictures" mean an episode of television, as that is the specific term used in the Basic Agreement. This summary 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. 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)

6. No Retaliation

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

7. 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.

There is an exception to this rule for additional scenes, retakes, and unfinished principal photography. You have the absolute right to direct all of the principal photography for your episode, as well as all additional scenes and retakes. However, if you are not available to direct scheduled principal photography that was not completed or any additional scenes or retakes, that material can be directed by a "career Director" who is employed on the series as long as you are afforded the opportunity to consult with the Director who is directing that material. (7-1401)


1.  Disclosure Before Assignment

Before you are assigned to a motion picture, the Producer must inform you of: (1) the creative personnel already employed; (2) existing footage contemplated to be used; (3) any rights of script or cast approval held by someone other than the Employer or individual Producer; (4) the pattern budget 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.

3.  Delivery of Script

The Producer must give you a working draft of the script at least one day before your preparation period begins. (7-302(a))

If the script is provided on your second day of prep or later for a half-hour episode, or the third day of prep or later on a one-hour episode, then the Writer/Executive Producer must meet with you and an executive of the studio to discuss a plan to complete the episode despite the lateness of the script.

For every episode, the Producer must submit to the DGA a signed affidavit stating the date on which a completed shooting script was provided to you.

After your assignment to an episode, at your request the Producer must promptly submit to you any script or outline and any revisions that exist. 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.  Distribution of Scripts

Your name must appear on the title page of each script distributed after you are assigned to an episode. (7-305)

5.  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.

6.  Casting

You have the right, if reasonably available, to participate in all decisions concerning the selection of the cast in consultation with the Producer. (7-202) 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) On or before the first day of prep you must be informed of the casting protocols and schedule for the episode. You must be invited to participate in the casting concept call when the call takes place during your prep period. When casting via electronic link you must be included on the distribution of the links at the same time they are sent to the Writer/Executive Producer or any other producer. You should be advised in advance when casting links are scheduled to be distributed and must be provided a reasonable opportunity to provide input before casting recommendations or decisions are communicated to the studio or network. (7-306; Sideletter 37)

7.  Preparation Time

You must have actual preparation time of no less than three days for a half-hour program, seven days for a one-hour program and 15 days for a two-hour program. This rule applies only to programs made for network prime time (excluding pilots) and comparable programs made for pay television. (7-304)

8.  Table Reads – Single Camera, One-Half Hour Television Series

You must be notified of the date, time and place of any table read as soon as the Producer has scheduled the table read, but in no event less than seventy-two hours prior to the table read, except in the event of an unplanned change to the scheduling, in which case the Producer must notify you as soon as possible. Depending upon the number of guaranteed preparation days you are afforded, you may be entitled to compensation for attending a table read that is held outside the guaranteed prep period. (10-101)

9. 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)

10. 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)

11. Electronic Transmissions

The Producer may not electronically transmit from the stage any image or sound without first informing you. Image or sound may only be transmitted outside the immediate production facility when (a) requested for VFX purposes, (b) an Act of God prevents travel to the location, (c) an immigration restriction prevents travel to the location or (d) the transmission is sent to a single Producer and is not intended to be viewed by multiple people. You must be provided the name and title of those receiving the transmission and be consulted in advance. The consultation requires your agreement on the process for providing notes and the specific shoot days and scenes which will be transmitted.

The continuous, unrestricted transmission of images or sounds (e.g., an “open mic”) to a location outside the set, stage or control booth is prohibited. (7-1505)

12. Dailies

You must have the opportunity to see the dailies of each day’s photography at a reasonable time. (7-401) Only with respect to pilots, 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)

13. 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)

There is an exception to this rule for additional scenes, retakes, and unfinished principal photography. You have the absolute right to direct all of the principal photography for your episode, as well as all additional scenes and retakes. However, if you are not available to direct scheduled principal photography that was not completed or any additional scenes or retakes, that material can be directed by a "Producer-Director" who is employed on the series as long as you are afforded the opportunity to consult with the Director who is directing that material. (7-1401)

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

The Producer must have the Editor’s Assembly of television motion pictures prepared within four business days for half-hour shows, or six business days for one-hour shows, after the close of principal photography. (7-505(c))

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. If it is not promptly completed, it will be held up to two weeks for your availability. (7-505(c))

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)

With respect to television motion pictures 60 minutes or less in length, if you do not start the Director’s Cut within 24 hours after receiving notice the Editor’s Assembly is or will be completed, the Producer may assign someone else to supervise the first cut. If the Producer does, he or she must notify the Guild within one day following the assignment. (7-505(g))

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

You have the following time periods in which to complete your Director’s Cut, depending upon the length of the episode, and the time does not start to run until the Editor’s Assembly is completed (7-505):

  • 30 minutes or less: within one day plus time (not to exceed one more day) to make changes if necessary.
  • 30 minutes or less (Pilot or first episode of a series without a pilot): within two days plus time (not to exceed one more day) to make changes if necessary.
  • 31 to 60 minutes: four days
  • 31 to 60 minutes (Pilot or first episode of a series without a pilot): five days
  • 61 to 90 minutes: fifteen days

Beginning July 1, 2024, episodes made for High Budget SVOD platforms with 20 million or more subscribers and all pay television platforms which are 20-35 minutes in length with a budget of $5 million or more, or 36-65 minutes in length with a budget of $7 million or more will provide the Director additional cutting time. Following submission of your Director’s Cut the Producer will provide notes within 24 hours. Once the notes are received, you will have additional time (24 hours for a 20-35 minute episode; 48 hours for a 36-65 minute episode) to work with the editor and implement the notes into your cut. Within 10 business days of delivering this cut, you are owed payment for the additional post-production services (1 day for 20-35 minute episodes; 2 days for 36-65 minute episodes).

With respect to television films 60 minutes or less, the Director’s Cut should be no more than approximately one minute over or under the planned broadcast time. (7-505(g))

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))

6.  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)

7.  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)

8. 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)

9. Screenings

Until completed, a television motion picture may not be shown to persons who are not involved in post-production (for example, critics and network affiliates) unless there is a notice on the screen at the beginning and end of the film stating that it is an unfinished work in progress. (7-514)


1.  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)

2.  Foreign Exhibition

If additional material is to be added for foreign exhibition of a television motion picture, you must be given the opportunity to direct that photography and to edit any English-language version. (7-510)

3. DVD Copy of Television Episode

You may request a digitally watermarked digital copy of the final version of a half-hour or hour television episode without commercials, which the Producer must provide at no cost to you after the first television exhibition of the episode.

In the event you are being considered for an opening directing assignment and the prospective Employer requests to see the completed episode prior to exhibition, the Employer should not unreasonably deny a request to provide access to the final ‘air’ version of the episode or selected scenes. (7-604)

4. Pilot Director Recognition *

If you directed the pilot of a series, and a domestic DVD or an interactive Web page is labeled for that series, the Employer must include your name, background and filmography if such information about the “creator” of the series is included. (8-308b)

3. Theatrical Exhibition of a Television Motion Picture

You have the right, subject to your reasonable availability and at no additional salary, to supervise the additional editing and direct any additional footage (at the pro rata daily salary rate) required for the theatrical release of a motion picture after its initial exhibition on television or initial availability on an SVOD platform. (11-201) You have the right to an additional three days to edit (at no additional salary) a motion picture for its theatrical release prior to its exhibition on television or availability on an SVOD platform and the right to direct, at the applicable pro rata daily salary rate, any additional footage required. (11-201)

* This provision appears in Article 8 of the DGA Basic Agreement.