Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions from applicants seeking placement on the DGA Qualifications Lists. While the answers in response to these questions are intended to provide accurate information about DGACA’s application process and procedures, it should be kept in mind that the administration of the Qualifications List is governed by provisions in a collective bargaining agreement between participating studios and the DGA. The provisions in that collective bargaining agreement will control in the event of any variance between those provisions and the information presented below.
The purpose of DGACA is to administer the Qualification Lists (QL) established under the collective bargaining agreement between participating studios and the DGA. This collective bargaining agreement is called the DGA Basic Agreement and the QL information can be found under article 14, starting with section 200.
Additionally, DGACA and the QLs attempt to provide some stability to a freelance workforce: to allow persons working in Guild represented classifications some modicum of continuity in their careers, and to insulate production companies from pressures to employ inexperienced people.
DGACA, or Directors Guild of America Contract Administration, should not be confused with the Directors Guild of America itself or the "contracts" department of the DGA. DGACA is a separate entity and is not managed or overseen by the DGA. DGA Membership is a completely separate application process.
DGACA (sometimes called DGACA West, or the Basic List) administers the Southern California Qualification List (SCQL), Third Area Qualification List (TAQL), and the Multi-Camera Qualification List (MCQL). The type of work you do and where you typically take jobs may determine the best list. Please see the requirements for each list available on this site, and contact us with any questions.
Keep in mind there is a separate New York QL, administered by DGACA-East, which is a different entity from DGACA. Additionally, there is a third entity that administers the Commercial Qualification Lists, also based out of New York. To work on commercials or to submit Production Assistant (PA) days, you must contact the Commercial QL. For film and television work as an Assistant Director or UPM, the Southern California QL supersedes the other film and television lists (NYQL, TAQL). **
**You cannot be listed on the Southern California QL and the New York QL simultaneously. Please contact the NYQL to inquire about the Eligible-to-Work in Southern California QL.
Work as a Production Assistant does not qualify applicants for placement on the DGACA Qualification Lists. Please contact the Commercial Qualification List Administration if your work experience is as a PA, even if you work on film and television projects.
How do I contact the other Qualification Lists?
Many people confuse their Qualification List "area" with "production center," but one has nothing to do with the other. To find out more about your production center, you must contact the membership department at the DGA: (310) 289-2000.
The title of Production Supervisor is not a title covered by the DGA Basic Agreement, and any days worked as a Production Supervisor will not be credited for placement on the QL.
If I am listed on the Third Area QL, where am I eligible to take employment? Southern California QL? New York QL?
Being on the Third Area QL allows you to take work anywhere outside of the Southern California and New York City areas. Southern California is defined as the northern San Luis Obispo county line, across the state, and south to the Mexican border. New York City is defined as a 75-mile radius from Columbus Circle (but please contact the New York QL for more information).
Being on the Southern California QL allows you to take work anywhere in the country in your job category. The New York QL allows you to take work anywhere but Southern California as defined above (but please contact the New York QL for more information).
What if I'm a UPM on the QL but I get a job as a 1st AD? What if I'm a 1st AD and I get a job as a 2nd AD?
You can always work below your QL category in the appropriate area.
Yes. This is called an interchange, typically done from Third Area to Southern California. Check our website for more information about the number of required days for the QL on which you are seeking placement. If you don't know how many days you have already "banked" in your file from your previous QL placement, please send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Which types of projects qualify for placement?
Each application is taken on a case-by-case basis. Generally, feature films and scripted television programs are the only types covered for QL placement. Work on the following types of projects will not count for placement on the DGACA Qualification Lists: commercials, music videos, documentaries, animated projects, student films (including AFI or any project made under the umbrella of an educational institution), promos, and industrial or educational films. Some work experience in these areas may qualify for the Commercial Qualification List. Contact the CQL for more information. Work on short films may qualify under certain circumstances.
Work on new media/web series/streaming/internet-only projects (including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) will not count for placement unless it meets the requirements of High Budget SVOD new media projects per the DGA Basic Agreement. Information about programs produced for new media and definitions of High Budget SVOD programs can be found in the DGA Basic Agreement under Sideletter No. 35 and the 2020 MOA. Please visit www.dga.org to find this information.
Qualifying work can be union or non-union. Special circumstances apply to work outside of the United States being used for placement. Please contact us for more information.
As a general rule, production companies that are signatory to the DGA may only hire Assistant Directors or UPMs who are on the appropriate Qualification List, unless there are no persons on the QL available to work in those classifications. Being a DGA member does not automatically qualify you for QL placement. DGACA is a separate entity and does not have access to the DGA system or records.
DGACA must be able to verify the following: the types of projects you worked, when shooting took place, where shooting took place, the job title you held, the duties you performed, and that you were compensated for your work (showing payment was received by you from the production).
We need the back-up paperwork to verify all of these details before placing you on a QL. That is why we ask for five elements: call sheets, production reports, pay documentation, crew lists and deal memos. If you worked DGA jobs, you may be entitled to copies of your deal memos which can be obtained by calling the DGA's Reports Compliance department. You may also obtain an earnings summary or quarterly statements from the DGA-Producer Pension & Health Plans which DGACA can use as payment verification.
DGACA cannot verify work experience with IMDb listings, resumes, videos of show credits, purchase orders, invoices, time cards, or letters from employers. If you have any doubts about the paperwork you are submitting to DGACA, please email us: email@example.com.
There is no fee to apply to the QL.
Joining the DGA is determined by whether and when you worked on a production covered by a DGA collective bargaining agreement. DGACA does not impose, and is prohibited by federal labor laws from imposing, requirements for joining the DGA, either as a condition of getting placed on a QL or after getting placed on a QL.
Depending on which list you've been placed, your upgrade requirements may be different. The days already credited for placement on a QL are "banked" and subsequent days can be added with a new application. If you are unsure of the requirements, or how many days you have been credited, please email us. We do not accept documents piecemeal. They would need to be submitted all at one time, meeting all of the application requirements. We do not accept incomplete applications.
I have a job starting very soon, but I know DGACA needs about 6 weeks to process my application for QL placement. What do I do?
Applications will be handled in the order they are received. If you have a legitimate job offer in place, a rush on your application will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Only after your complete application has been received by our office, can you send a rush request via email that includes the name of the project, the start date, the production company, the employer name, the employer phone number or email, and any other pertinent information.
Please fill out the registration form available on this site under the "Log In/Register" tab. Even if you have submitted an application in the past, please register so we can verify your profile. We will reply as soon as possible with further instructions that detail how to organize your .pdf documents and how to use our online portal for your application submission.
You will need to submit the following back-up documentation when you fill out your application in our portal:
- Deal Memos
- Pay Documentation (see notes below)
- Call Sheets for each shooting day worked. For television programs, please provide application entries by season.
- Production Reports for each shooting day worked.
- Crew Lists
- Please make sure documents are organized, are clearly legible, and are not cut off.
- Documentation of work within the last six months before your QL application submission. In other words, you need at least one recent day of work. This is required of all applicants.
- Please email us first if you are considering mailing a hard-copy application, and do not use the address on our site.
- We no longer accept walk-ins for application drop-off.
Please email with any other questions and include your full name. We are happy to help you through this process.