Published on: 3 September 2020 in Opportunities

Directors UK Inspire: A Mentoring and Career Development programme

Directors UK is thrilled to announce the re-opening of Inspire, our year-round mentoring programme for Full and Associate members.

Inspire aims to encourage directors across all genres to seek structured support from a more experienced director to enhance their career opportunities. COVID-19 has caused major disruptions to our industry, but this should not be considered an obstacle when it comes to successful mentoring and continuing to develop your career.

While COVID-19 continues to cause uncertainty, invaluable advice and experience can still be gained through remote mentoring, invaluable advice and experience can still be gained through remote mentoring. Platforms such as Zoom, Skype or even just phone calls and email contact should be utilised during this time to maintain regular contact with your mentor. To see how mentoring relationships can work well online, why not read this interview with Directors UK member Gaëlle Mourre, who was mentored by fellow member Richard Clark on the set of War of the Worlds.

We strongly advise our members to continue to follow advice from reputable sources, and would recommend completing ScreenSkills’ Coronavirus basic awareness on production training, which you can find here.

The 2020/2021 deadlines

  • Friday 5 March 2021

This is a wonderful opportunity for directors who are seeking regular support, and to build a rewarding relationship that could lead to further career opportunities.

Rubika Shah, director of White Riot (Grierson Award for Best Documentary, BFI London Film Festival), was mentored by Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth (20,00 Days on Earth) as part of Directors UK Inspire.

“20,000 Days on Earth is one of my favourite films, so I was incredibly lucky to be mentored by the directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. When you watch a film as a filmmaker you come up with all sorts of questions on how they did that and how did that work. Getting the opportunity to ask Iain and Jane lots of behind-the-scenes, directing questions was invaluable, especially as I was about to embark on my debut feature documentary. They were very approachable and happy for me to contact them as and when. They were so gracious with their time.”

How to apply

All applicants must provide an up-to-date CV as well as a personal statement (one side of A4) including the following:

  1. A named mentor. This can be either a director you know and have had initial discussions with, or a proposed name who you think is best suited to your objectives. We may consider 1-2 additional names, but we encourage you to focus your application on the one director you would like to partner with — and how they would be suited to helping you. The most productive mentoring partnerships succeed when the mentor is just** one or two steps ahead** of the mentee in terms of their respective career paths – so please bear this in mind when naming your desired director. If your application is accepted, you must have consent from your proposed mentor before being confirmed as part of the programme.

  2. Please outline your key objectives and intended outcomes from a 12-month mentorship and the actions you would like to take with your mentor to achieve these goals — you can see some examples of successful mentoring below. Please tell us how this experience will help develop your career. This is a competitive programme and we will rely on clear and concise personal statements relevant to your potential mentorship when reviewing your application. Try to avoid providing a biography or a great deal of background information within your personal statement – we should gain an understanding of your career to date from your CV.

The Directors UK Career Development team have put together some tips on what we think makes a successful application. You can read the tips here.

Please email your CV and personal statement to training@directors.uk.com with the subject line, ‘Inspire 2020/2021 Application’. Applicants must be Full or Associate members of Directors UK.

If shortlisted, we will then ask you for a detailed plan of action including your estimated expenditure. Directors UK has a small budget for each mentee, and will financially support eligible costs directly related to your mentoring partnership for up to 12 months.

Examples of successful mentoring

  • Mentoring partnerships that centre on continuous support, whereby you have access to your mentor for general advice, phone and video calls or emails.
  • Mentoring advice for a specific project or career goal – or a safe space for discussion outside of a project or scheme.
  • General support as a freelance director – gathering and maintaining contacts, networking.
  • Advice on changing roles or direction – up-skilling.

For a great recent example of successful mentoring, check out our interview Deva Palmier, who started up a mentoring partnership with William McGreor.

Interested in becoming a mentor?

We know that many directors may already operate as mentors and support those coming through the industry. Being a mentor is extremely rewarding and career enhancing as it offers a chance to pause and consider your own decisions and experiences. If you would like to become a mentor and be added to a pool of directors keen to offer this support please contact us. We can add you to our list and discuss opportunities in relation to this new programme as they arise. If you would like to become a mentor and be added to a pool of directors keen to offer this support please send us a brief biography and a few sentences about what you may be able to offer a mentee over a 12 month period to training@directors.uk.com.

Future opportunities and commitments

Whilst the detail of the conversations between you and your mentor will always remain confidential, we would love to be able to share your experience, where appropriate, with other members and will ask you to commit to some publicity and/or case studies.

Diversity

Applications are encouraged from directors of colour, women directors and disabled directors as the industry recognises that all are currently under-represented within the film and television industry.

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