Statement on the Passing of Director Elliot Silverstein

Silverstein Interview

November 27, 2023

Los Angeles – Directors Guild of America President Lesli Linka Glatter made the following statement upon learning of the passing of Director Elliot Silverstein:

“Every Director today owes a debt of gratitude to Elliot Silverstein. No one ever worked harder or was more passionate about protecting artists from having their work and vision altered than Elliot. He knew how deeply intertwined the end product was with a Director’s authority to execute their vision, and that these rights were essential for their best work to shine through. Almost sixty years ago, Elliot successfully led the charge to secure the right to a Director’s cut – something that had been a DGA goal for years. And through his work and determination he helped codify and negotiate a list of creative necessities with producers through the development of the Bill of Creative Rights – something which governs the rights of DGA members to this day.

Elliott’s commitment to the needs of Directors knew no bounds. He once purposely made a spectacle in the middle of the Universal Studios lot, dragging a chair into the street as his ‘office’ to draw attention to the fact that producers refused to provide workspaces for Directors. Thanks to him, that changed in the next round of negotiations. Elliot went on to serve in Guild leadership for four decades, and his tremendous impact earned him almost every service Award the Guild could bestow, including the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 1985, Honorary Life Membership in 1990, and the DGA Honors John Huston Award in 2002. His legacy endures in every Director’s chair today. He will be deeply missed.”

In the 1990s, Silverstein founded the Artists Rights Foundation to focus more specifically on the concept of filmmakers’ moral rights. Under his leadership, the Artists Rights Foundation secured two major legal victories in Europe that set a precedent for the protection of a Director’s work no matter where it is shown around the world. In 2002, the Artists Rights Foundation and The Film Foundation consolidated into one entity known as The Film Foundation under the umbrella of the Directors Guild of America, and Elliot for years remained active in the protection of Directors’ rights as chair of The Film Foundation’s Artists Rights Education and Legal Defense Fund Council.

The Film Foundation Founder and Chair, Martin Scorsese, shared his thoughts on Silverstein’s contributions to Director’s rights:

“Elliot Silverstein was a tireless champion of the creative rights of filmmakers — he fought valiantly to preserve the vision and original intent of all artists. Every American filmmaker has benefited from his fierce dedication.”

DGA Service and Awards:

Elliot Silverstein was an original member of the DGA Creative Rights Committee and served as Chairman from 1968-1992. In 1964, under then committee chair Frank Capra, he helped prepare the Creative Bill of Rights, which included such landmark achievements as the establishment of the Director’s cut, and has since grown into the Creative Rights Handbook, which summarizes the creative rights of DGA members. From 1967 to 2003, Silverstein served on the DGA National Board in various capacities, including a term as first vice president from 1983 to 1985. He also served on the Western Directors Council for nearly three decades, on the Negotiating Committee for three negotiations, as a trustee of the Directors Guild Foundation for a dozen years, and chaired numerous Guild committees including the President’s Committee, the Professional Standards Committee, and the Safety Committee. He was founding president of the Artists Rights Foundation, which merged with The Film Foundation under the DGA umbrella in 2002, and also served as chair of the Artists Rights Council.

In honor of his decades of extraordinary service to the Guild and its members, the Guild bestowed Silverstein with the DGA Honorary Life Membership Award in 1990 and the Robert B. Aldrich Award in 1985. At the DGA Honors gala in 2002, he received the John Huston Award, which highlights individuals who have shown outstanding courage, artistic integrity and leadership on behalf of artist’s rights. In 1965, Silverstein was nominated for a DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Cat Ballou.

  • Click here to read the DGA Quarterly article revealing how in 1964, Director Elliot Silverstein contested edits made without his approval to his episode of The Twilight Zone. The DGA backed Silverstein in a landmark stand for creative rights, ultimately prevailing over the show's producers


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