Film directors are responsible for overseeing creative aspects of a film. They visualize the script, and guide the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of his or her vision. Film directors are responsible for approving camera angles, lens effects, lighting, and set design. They often take part in hiring key crew members. They coordinate the actors’ moves.
Directors have different methods of filming. Certain directors just give an outline and let the actors improvise dialogue. Whereas, certain others control every aspect of the film, and demand that the actors and crew follow instructions precisely. There are directors who write their own script, appear in their films and even compose music for their films.
In some cases, film directors do not have absolute creative control. The producer is responsible for financing, contract negotiation and marketing. As a result, producers generally have the final say in the matters right from the script approval to the final cut of the film. Directors, however, have long argued that a film is an original artistic work and that the creative force in its making is the director. Although copyright protects an original artistic work in case of films, copyright, in a sense, protects the investment of a producer, rather than the work of an author. Currently scriptwriters and screen composers receive copyright protection for their works, but the same is not true for directors. The courts have held that the copyright owner of a film is generally the producer or production company.
If there is a written agreement to the contrary, or if the director is also a producer, a director may also own copyright for the film. Generally much of the work of an entertainment law practice is transaction based, i.e. drafting contracts. The transactions include option agreements, talent agreements and agreements relating to copyright.
The Directors Guild of America (DGA) represents more than 14,000 members throughout the U.S. and abroad. The Guild protects the creative and economic rights of members working in feature film, television, documentary, new media and other forms of production. These members include Directors, Assistant Directors, Unit Production Managers, Associate Directors, Stage Managers and Production Associates. Members of the guild have access to competent legal assistance within the industry especially about contracts and negotiations, labor laws, working conditions and compensation.