Through all the glitz and glamour that the Hollywood and filmmaking industry is known for, it’s still a business. Like many businesses, organizations are created to protect their workers and ensure they are treated equally and fairly. Some organizations come from Human Resources, Unions, and Guilds. Hollywood is no exception, and a central cog in everyday life of filmmaking is unions and guilds.

Working in the movie industry often means working with film unions and guilds to help progress the career of a creative individual. Many of these groups are here to help those during contract negotiations, getting health care, or other means of having a stable life along with their career. One important thing to remember is the difference between film unions and guilds.

Film Unions and Guilds

Some outsiders of the moviemaking business aren’t in tune with the inner works of the business side of Hollywood. A Union or Guild might be separate things in different labor sectors or even among a group of friends. A film union is a collective bartering organization for employees in the film industry. For film guilds, the collective is slightly shifted as a negotiating organization for independent contractors.

Let’s look at some of the unions and guilds that are a significant part of filmmaking’s working machine for those considering becoming a member.

American Federation Musicians-Local 47

Burbank, CA

Phone: (323) 462-2161

The labor union for professional musicians promotes and protects the concerns of those in all areas of the music industry. The 6,000 members strong organization is filled with high-level studio musicians signed to major indie labels and working on major motion pictures and television. They also serve those who tour worldwide and are members of premier orchestras and symphonies in Los Angeles counties, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura.

American Federation of Musicians was formed in 1897, and the group continues to advocate for fair wages and working conditions. Additionally, they oppose the forces of exploitation through solidarity and collective action and preserve the dignity and respect all professional workers deserve.

American Society of Cinematographers (ASC)

Los Angeles, CA

Phone: (800) 448-0145 (U.S. only) or (323) 969-4333

Founded in Hollywood in 1919, The American Society of Cinematographers’ purpose is to advance the art and science of cinematography. They do this by bringing cinematographers together to exchange ideas, discuss techniques and promote the motion picture as an art form. This mission was established at the inception of the organization and continues today. Although the ASC has 400 active members, the group has remained true to its ideals of loyalty, progress, and artistry for over 100 years.

Art Directors Guild

Studio City, CA

Phone: (818) 762-9995

The Art Directors Guild comprises members of art directors, graphic artists, illustrators, matte artists, model makers, and other artists in the field. The IATSE Local 800 labor union represents 3,000 members who work throughout the world in their respective fields. This group helps negotiate with their employers from a position of strength, striving for fair wages and benefits. The group also endeavors workplace health and safety, job training, and other work-related issues.

Founded by 59 Art Directors in May 1937, the union understands the importance of ensuring that management acts reasonably and treats its workers respectfully.

Costume Designers Guild (CDG)

Burbank, CA

Phone: (818) 848-2800

The Costume Designers Guild is another local IATSE union with 1,200 members. The CDG consists of professional costume designers, assistant costume designers, and illustrators. These members work in film, television, commercials, and other media but are not considered an employment agencies. The group offers health insurance and a pension and understands the importance of being part of a community that shapes future policy.

The CDG was formed in 1953 by a group of 30 passionate motion picture costume designers. They found power in creating this community and responding to the evolving needs of the movie. Industry

Director’s Guild of America (DGA)

Nation Headquarters

Los Angeles, CA Phone: (310) 289-2000 and (800) 421-4173

New York, NY Phone: (212) 258-0800 and (800) 356-3754

The labor organization was founded in 1936 when a modest group of the best-known directors of that era joined to protect directors’ economic and creative rights. The Guild represents directors, assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors, stage managers, and production associates. Their services include communications, contracts, credits, government and international affairs, and legal. In addition, they offer benefits in economic rights, creative rights, pension, health plans, and residuals.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)

IATSE General Office

New York, NY Phone: (212) 730-1770

IATSE Canadian Office

Toronto, Ontario, Canada Phone: (416) 362-3569

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has been a big help to workers in the entertainment industry. The union was founded in 1893 and continues to represent those in the United States and Canada. IATSE members work in live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows, and exhibitions. In addition, the group represents those in television broadcasting, concerts, equipment, and construction shops. The 150,000 members’ mission is to improve all entertainment workers’ lives inside and outside the workplace.

Location Managers Guild International (LMGI)

Los Angeles, CA

Phone: (310) 967-2007

Though the LMGI was established as recently as 2003, the nonprofit corporation has made some decisive moves since its inception. The organization is dedicated to promoting and bringing the interests of its members and relations with the general public, communities, and industry partners. They do this by bringing awareness of their creative collaborators, standards of personal conduct, and business ethics. In addition, they support the formation of strong links with business members, governmental agencies, and local communities.

All members are career location professionals in the motion picture, television, commercials, and print production industries.

Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild

Burbank, CA

Phone: (818) 295-3933

The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild is another section of the IATSE. These artistic associates are crucial in entertainment and have created many iconic looks for Hollywood’s most memorable characters and stars. The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild has grown to 2,100 artists since 1937 and continues to grow. Their make-up artists and hair stylists work in film, television, stage, and digital media.

They believe in hard work, perseverance, and passion on hold their membership very proudly.

Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG)

Hollywood, CA Phone: (323) 876-4770

New York, NY Phone: (212) 302-0700

Atlanta, GA Phone: (404) 361-5677

Editors are the threads that keep film or television programs together. The national labor organization currently represents over 8,800 freelance and staff post-production professionals. MPEG work in negotiating new bargaining agreements as well as enforces existing agreements with post-production employers. Also, the group is involved in financial, medical, and safety concerns their artist may bring to their attention.

Hollywood’s unionization in April 1937 would help create the world’s premier craft guild in May and set the standards for excellence in the post-production industry.

Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE)

Granada Hills, CA

Phone: (818) 506-7731

As there is with film editing, there’s sound editing as well. The MPSE was founded in 1953 and is the foremost organization for sound editing professionals. The group is dedicated to improving the recognition of its worldwide membership, which educates the public and the entertainment industry. Furthermore, the organization acknowledges the artistic merit of sound editing and supports diversity and emerging talent.

Benefits from MPSE vary for career and student members. Still, all offer a great opportunity to those wanting to find a union that wishes to elevate their craft.

Producer’s Guild of America (PGA)

Los Angeles, CA Phone: (310) 358-9020

New York, NY Phone: (646) 766-0770

The PGA’s motto reads: “Bringing together the producing team in film, TV, and new media.” The nonprofit trade organization has been making a significant impact on Hollywood since 1962. The 8,000 members safeguards and encourage the interests of all colleagues of the producing team in film, television, and new media.

The group invests in its core values that benefit the industry and is rooted in advocating for sustainable production practices. Additionally, they believe in minimizing human and environmental harm and creating viable paths into the Guild for the next generation of producers.

Production Sound and Video Engineers Guild

North Hollywood, California

Phone: (818) 985-9204

Part of IATSE (Local 695), the official labor union, is for those who are production video assist technicians, studio projections, television engineers, and sound technicians. These members include boom operators, production sound mixers, recordists, playback operators, and utility sound technicians. Other union members include data capture and management, video engineers, broadcast and projectionists, playback, and video assistants. Their appreciation for production sound and video engineers has been vital to their success since 1930 and continues to this day.

The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)

Los Angeles, California

Phone: (855) 724-2387

The union, SAG-AFTRA, has been a driving force in equality for those in front of the camera since 1933. As a result, the association is even vaguely familiar to those with a passing knowledge of Hollywood. SAG-AFTRA currently holds 160,000 members in their ranks of actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, and other media professionals. Though its central offices are located in LA and New York, the organization conduct business in local offices nationwide.

They’re committed to organizing all work under jurisdictions, negotiating the best wages, working conditions, and health and pension benefits. In addition, the group continues to do its due diligence in educating and engaging members to take advantage of their great benefits and become a model of an inclusive organization.

Set Decorators Society of America (SDSA)

North Hollywood, CA

Phone: (818) 255-2425

The SDSA’s mission states: “To promote the highest standards of excellence in the field worldwide and to entertain, inspire, teach and preserve the legacy of set decoration in motion pictures and television.” They are the only national nonprofit association devoted to supporting past, present, and future set decorators in entertainment. Furthermore, the group features mentorship programs for students looking to get into the art of set decorator and even several great benefits for their tier members.

Society of Camera Operators (SOC)

Burbank, CA

Phone: (818) 563- 9110

Production is not a production without the hard-working folks behind the lens. The SOC knows this and strives to ensure its members feel appreciated and respected in their fields. Camera operators have been one of the focal points of Hollywood since the earlier day, but the group was incorporated in 1979. Since then, the SOC and its members have been kept at the forefront of the industry’s evolving technology through their workshops and corporate-sponsored equipment showcases.

The members and educators include camera operators, still photographers, camera assistants, grips, directors of photography, and others.

Stuntmen’s Association

North Hollywood, CA

Phone: (818) 766-4334

The action set pieces in cinema can be entertaining for any moviegoer. Still, the safety of the people performing these stunts is even more critical. The Stuntmen’s Association was founded in 1961 by forward-thinking stunt coordinators and performers who eventually changed the course of professional stunts. Their goal is to always set the highest standards of safety on set with the combined experience and knowledge of their members. Additionally, their community efforts allow a unifying voice to address their concerns, share ideas, and push the envelope of what could be done for filming stunts.


North Hollywood, CA

Phone: (818) 985-7374

Teamsters are one of the vital things that make the cinema world go round. The Local 339 represents personnel in the Motion Picture Industry, including firms that produce feature films, television, commercials, and other media productions. This union is committed to securing fair wages, jobs, and pension and health benefits for its members. They believe that strength within their Local group helps keep them united and allows them to become a powerful voice in entertainment.

United Stuntwomen’s Association

Brooklyn, NY Phone: (818) 762-0907

Los Angeles, CA Phone: (818) 762-0907

Atlanta, Georgia Phone: (818) 762-0907

Stunt performers need to perform their duties safely, so it is for stuntwomen. The United Stuntwomen’s Association has been the longest-standing women’s stunt team since 1967. The organization has hundreds of major motion picture and television credits on its record and continues to grow. On top (of that), their members are experts in various stunts, including motorcycle racers, circus performers, high divers, and much more.

Their motto: “We are here to help you create great, realistic Action Art. Nothing is impossible, and together we are strong!”

Writers Guild of America (WGAW)

Los Angeles, CA

Phone: (323) 951-4000 and (800) 548-4532

A story will start with writing, and a great story needs a great writer. The WGAW labor union represents thousands of writers in scripted series, news programs, features, and other media content. Initiated in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts protecting its members’ creative and economic rights. Their involvement involves a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers. Furthermore, the WGAW is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels.


These unions and guilds are just a drop in the bucket of organizations in the world that help those working in the entertainment industry. Unions and guilds help keep equality and fairness alive behind film and television scenes. Communities of people are there to help those trying to get in their foot in the door and have a successful career perfecting their craft. It’s just a matter of which craft will cater to those in need to express their art in an original and unprecedented way.