Frequently Asked Questions

The Directors Guild of America is a powerful force that can help you realize your vision regardless of budget. Find out what the DGA is all about.


Karyn Kusama
The DGA has worked hard to accommodate my ongoing interest in indie filmmaking with its Low Budget Agreement. – Karyn Kusama
How do I join the DGA?

As a director, you must either be hired by a signatory company to direct a project or develop a feature length project and make your company/project signatory. On a very select, case-by-case basis, a director who has directed feature films that have bona fide theatrical releases in the United States and have received significant critical acclaim and/or commercial success may be invited to join. In the latter case, the director’s membership application is subject to special review by the appropriate Director’s Council.

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay
How much is initiation?

The initiation fee for directors joining on low-budget (under $11 million) narrative and documentary features is $3,500, with 40% payable up front and the remainder paid out over a year. The regular (non-low-budget) initiation fee is $13,416 (updated annually on July 1). If you join as a low-budget director, you simply pay the additional $9,916 when you do a “regular” project.

Robert Eggers
In this wild and tumultuous profession, it's important to have colleagues you can turn to. I know the DGA will have my back, both in protecting my vision and in helping to provide security for me and my family. – Robert Eggers.
How much are dues?

Guild dues are based on DGA earnings. Earnings are reportable, and the corollary dues payable, quarterly. Each member pays basic dues of $50 per quarter. Basic dues are credited against each member’s obligation to pay percentage dues equal to one and one-half percent (1½%) of his or her gross earnings from employment in any Guild category, provided that such dues shall be payable only on gross annual income of between $10,000 and $300,000. In addition, each Guild member also pays dues on one percent (1%) of the total residuals of all types he or she receives pursuant to employment under a DGA collective bargaining agreement.

Jamie Babbitt
Jamie Babbit & Angela Robinson
If I am a member of the DGA and want to make a low-budget or no-budget feature, documentary or new media project, does it have to be covered under a DGA contract?


Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Kyle Patrick Alvarez 
Do I have to hire a full DGA staff?

Usually. However, the DGA will consider reduced staffing on a case-by-case basis, but you must contact the Guild to discuss this issue before you start production.

What are the pay rates?
Barry Jenkins
Barry Jenkins

The minimum salaries for directors and their teams are budget-dependent. Under the Guild’s low budget agreement, these minimums are percentages of the “scale” rates in the DGA Basic Agreement governing higher budget films and television productions.

Other waivers of basic minimums apply to each budget level; for example, there is no vacation or unworked holiday pay due until Level 4c. (Please see the DGA Contracts section for a complete copy of the Low Budget Agreement and for Rate Cards with percentages of scale conveniently calculated for each budget level.)





Level 1a




Level 1b

$500,000 - $1,100,000


33% of scale

Level 2

$1,100,000 - $2,600,000


50% of scale

Level 3

$2,600,000 - $3,750,000


60% of scale

Level 4a

$3,750,000 - $5,500,000

75% of scale

70% of scale

Level 4b

$5,500,000 - $8,500,000

75% of scale

80% of scale

Level 4c

$8,500,000 - $11,000,000

90% of scale

90% of scale

Mary Harron
Mary Harron
If I am a director member living outside the U.S., is it possible for my feature films shot outside the U.S. to be covered under a DGA agreement?

Yes. The Guild has developed an international agreement specifically designed to address the needs of directors living and working outside the United States and/or who are citizens of other countries. Please contact DGA staff for more information.

Nisha Ganatra
Because of creative rights protections like a guaranteed Director's Cut or the ability to choose my First AD, I'll always sing the DGA's praises. – Nisha Ganatra
Who can I contact for more information?

Filmmakers or employers who would like more information on the benefits of Guild membership and working under the DGA’s Low Budget Agreement should contact:

  • Jennifer Peat in Los Angeles at 310-289-5305
  • Mary Hatch in New York at 212-258-0801