Navigating Key Collaborations & Our Creative Rights

January 18, 2022 A DGA Women's Steering Committee Virtual Event

On January 18, ahead of their online meeting, the Women’s Steering Committee (WSC) hosted the panel discussion, Navigating Key Collaborations & Our Creative Rights. The event featured Directors Maggie Kiley, Jessica Lowrey and Dawn Wilkinson in a conversation moderated by WSC Director Category Representative Valerie Weiss that covered best practices and how to navigate questions such as how newly hired Directors can communicate their creative choices; how to best utilize the Producing Director; and the creative rights of a Director and the best way to assert them.

During the conversation, the panelists revealed that learning what is important to the Writer-Producer will help the guest Director deliver a successful episode and pave the way for a fulfilling collaboration. They suggested that it’s a good idea to discuss "the rules of the relationship" with the Writer-Producer as early as possible such as, how they like to communicate — in person, over email, or via text — and how it's important to listen actively and well. They added that having a Pre-tone or Story Meeting at the very beginning of Prep can be an effective start to this process.

In cases where a guest Director disagrees with the Writer-Producer, the panel agreed that it is important to distinguish your point of view from being just a matter of taste and to make your case with respect to what executes the storytelling of the scene most effectively.

On the subject of Director's cuts, the panelists had varying approaches. Some thought it best not to diverge too far from the script but rather deliver the best version of the scripted content that exists. Others had the perspective that if lifts or reordering scenes makes the episode more effective, this is an opportunity to share this version with the Writer-Producer.

All panelists agreed that it is critical to protect the creative rights we have fought so hard to negotiate and maintain as a Guild and suggested that Directors with questions about these issues contact their DGA Field Rep or call the DGA Contracts line.

Following the moderated portion of the conversation, the panelists fielded questions submitted by the online audience.

Maggie KileyMaggie Kiley
Most recently, Kiley served as Director and Executive Producer for the upcoming series Breathe and directed the first three episodes of the six-episode event series. Her other recent credits include directing and executive producing of the first two episodes of the limited series Dr. Death, and Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, where she directed four out of the eight episodes. She has also directed episodes of American Horror Story: CultScream Queens 9-1-1RiverdaleThe GiftedWhat/IfThe Chilling Adventures of SabrinaInsatiableNightflyers and the pilot and finale episodes of Katy Keene. Kiley joined the DGA in 2016. 
Jessica LowreyJessica Lowrey
Lowrey is an alumnus of the DGA Director Development Initiative mentorship program as well as the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program. Her directing credits include episodes of Perry MasonHaloLightyearsHeelsBriarpatch and Queen of the South. A DGA member since 2006, before beginning her directing career, Lowrey gained extensive experience as an Assistant Director on multiple series including BallersTogethernessLooking and Mad Men
Dawn WilkinsonDawn Wilkinson
Wilkinson’s directorial credits include the feature, Devotion, and episodes of DegrassiKim’s ConvenienceAll AmericanEmpireRiverdaleLocke & Key and Truth Be Told. Her recent credits include serving as the Executive Producing Director on the series Step Up and the feature film Block Party. Wilkinson joined the DGA in 2016. 
Valerie WeissValerie Weiss (moderator)
Weiss’s directorial credits include the feature films, MixtapeThe ArcherA Light Beneath Their Feet and Losing Control; the movie for television, An American Girl Story: Maryellen 1955 – Extraordinary Christmas; and episodes of, EchoesMonarchOuter BanksWhy Women KillSuits and Impulse. A DGA member since 2016, Weiss was recently elected as the Director Category Representative of the Women’s Steering Committee. 


The Women's Steering Committee (WSC) was created to advance the professional interests of its members, and to heighten their visibility and career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The WSC currently promotes diversity through sponsoring net-working events, screenings and seminars, and fosters relationships between the members to provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities. The WSC’s current Co-Chairs are Tara Miele, Shawn Pipkin-West and Liz Ryan.

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