We are delighted to reveal the second group of directors to be accepted onto the 2023-24 cycle of Inspire.
Inspire takes place across the year and is designed to encourage Directors UK members across all genres to pursue and manage structured support from a more experienced director.
Read about the July 2023 cohort on Directors UK Inspire below.
The next cycle of Inspire will be announced in the Autumn.
Mentor: Khurrum M. Sultan
Alexandra is an accomplished American director/writer, based in London. Her repertoire includes award-winning short films, web series and music videos, with an exciting first feature film in development. A champion for representation, Alexandra co-founded Red Siren Entertainment in 2016, a women-centric production company in Los Angeles, and recently established Steamcraft Ltd, a production company in London, further solidifying her commitment to creating compelling and inclusive storytelling. Her work primarily centres around dramatic narratives, action and crime-oriented storytelling, and period pieces.
“I applied to the Inspire program to advance my career with the guidance and support of an accomplished director who has successfully attained the objectives I aspire to achieve. I am truly excited to embark on this transformative path of growth and success.”
Mentor: Paris Zarcilla
Alexandre is a French-Cambodian director based in London and working in music videos, commercials and short films. His diverse commercial work has been nominated at the 1.4 Awards and the Young Arrows, and his film Aniccam premiered on Nowness Asia in 2020. Keen to transition to more narrative work, Alexandre recently shadowed Philip Barantini on Boiling Point, the 2023 BBC series. He is currently working on his next short film Goodbye Vietnam.
“Being Southeast Asian and interested in telling personal stories through genre, I always struggled to find the right mentor. So, I feel infinitely lucky to have gotten in touch with Paris Zarcilla for the Inspire programme. With Inspire, I hope to accelerate my transition towards directing fiction on HETV and features. Over the next 12 months, I plan to shadow more, direct 2nd-unit and prep my short: Goodbye Vietnam.”
Caitlin French McLeod
Mentor: Rebecca Gatward
Caitlin is originally from Iowa, grew up in Yorkshire, and now lives between Berlin and the UK. She has over a decade of experience directing theatre, before moving into short film and music video. Caitlin’s award-winning debut short One Like Him was funded by BFI Network and has screened at multiple BAFTA and Academy Awards-qualifying festivals around the world. One Like Him is now being developed into a feature. Caitlin is also a Sky Arts Scholarship winner, founding a creative incubator for female and BIPOC artists, and is currently a Creative Director at Only Child Collective.
“I’ve been hugely inspired by Rebecca Gatward’s work and I’m thrilled to have the chance to learn from her directing up close, as well as being part of such a brilliant cohort of peers.”
Mentor: Rhodri Huw
Caryl is a multi-camera director from North West Wales. A former script supervisor, she has been directing for over a year and specialises in (although not exclusively) music. Caryl’s mentor is Rhodri Huw, a prominent music director who has worked extensively over the last 20 years on high profile musical concerts and events such as First and Last Night of the Proms, Cardiff Singer of the World and the Doctor Who at 50 spectacular from the Royal Albert Hall as well as numerous Operas and Theatre productions. Caryl has worked with Rhodri a number of times over the years as a Script Supervisor and is delighted that he has agreed to be her mentor on this programme.
”I am thrilled to have been selected by Directors UK for this year’s Inspire programme. So far I’ve been directing at festivals, etc. as part of a wider directing team. Through the Inspire programme and by being mentored by Rhodri, I wish to progress from being just another member on the directing team to directing as the creative lead on shows/concerts/studio programmes. This is a really exciting time for me.”
Mentor: Julian Holmes
Charlie Dennis is a writer/director hailing from the West Midlands, now based in London. Balancing the board between directing narrative and commercial, he’s been nominated for awards at BAFTA, BIFA and Academy Award-qualifying festivals internationally. After directing shorts for the BBC and second unit on a Sky TV series, he’s currently developing a dystopian, Deaf-led TV series which deals with accessibility in a hostile world. His work is influenced from real life, and even his flair for high-octane moments deliver an honest punch.
“With my long term goal to be directing HETV, within the next 12 months I aim to figure out the landscape of the TV world. I want to understand how I can take my first major steps into directing for TV — and I’m so grateful for both the Directors UK Inspire programme and my mentor Julian Holmes for opening up this incredible opportunity.”
Mentor: Thomas Hardiman
George is a Bristolian writer/director working at the intersection of psychological expressionism and participatory practice. His stories explore moments of crisis, parallel perspectives, and transcendental moments in ordinary lives. George specialises in working with neurodiverse subjects and subject matter. His own experiences have led him to believe that rich, truthful representations of diverse inner lives are essential enablers of empathic connection and social change.
“I’m aiming to use the mentorship to take the next step on the road to my first feature, whilst continuing to build a fulfilling, sustainable directing career.”
Mentor: Karen Guthrie
Hannah Currie is an award-winning documentary director from Glasgow with a reputation for powerful portrayals of prescient human stories. Her films include BAFTA Scotland-winning and Grierson-nominated short That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore about a couple dealing with life after brain injury, Lumo: Too Young To Die documenting the Glasgow hip hop community in the aftermath of a young rapper's death, and most recently BBC iPlayer series Not Your Average Family about a young LGBTQ couple challenging stereotypes as they try to start a family.
“I am in the daunting early stages of my first feature project and delighted to be part of the mentorship scheme with Karen Guthrie, whose work I really admire. I'm fascinated by Karen's outside-of-the-box thinking and hoping to grow my own creative process — I’m very excited and ready to learn!”
Mentor: John Maidens
Hannah Quigley is a Disabled, Neurodivergent, Lesbian, Londoner of Irish heritage freelance director, who works across theatre, screen, digital and radio, with experience of working with and telling stories celebrating these perspectives and beyond. In 2023, she was selected to participate in a director training initiative at Hollyoaks (Directors UK/Screen Skills/Stage Directors UK/Lime Pictures), and she has been a shadow director on several HETV productions including All Creatures Great and Small (Playground UK) and After the Flood (Quay Street/ITV Studios).
“I am beyond thrilled to be a part of Inspire and being mentored by John Maidens. This year I hope to develop my craft whilst I direct a short documentary film and work towards my first TV directing credit.”
Mentor: Jennifer Sheridan
Jadey is an award-winning producer, writer and director, working in comedy-action. She has a background as a stuntwoman and actor on major Hollywood productions as well as for the BBC, Channel 4 and Marvel. Jadey founded her own production company DreamMore Films in London and has directed the award winning, BAFTA-qualifying comedy-action film 10 Minutes For A Pound, comedy short Sticky Fingers starring Amit Shah and Jack Bradley, and comedy-action The First Date. Jadey is currently writing and pitching a number of comedy TV shows.
“I am super excited to be mentored by the amazing Jennifer Sheridan on the Directors UK Inspire scheme. With Jen’s guidance, I can learn how to transition into directing TV. My end goal is to write and direct original TV shows that have female-driven stories and are as cinematic as they are funny, representative and modern, but that also have excellent jokes and head-butts!”
Mentor: Douglas Mackinnon
From the Isle of Lewis and now based in Glasgow, JM is a director/producer working in drama and factual. His RTS-winning short film Keep an Eye on Me has been screened at numerous festivals around the world. JM is also an Alumni of the Young Films Foundation where he began the development of his first feature As the Women Lay Dreaming based on the D.S Murray Novel.
“I’m very honoured to be a part of the Inspire programme and look forward to working with Douglas over the next 12 months. Having access to this level of support will be invaluable as I move forward in my career.”
Mentor: Tom George
Josie is writer and director from Somerset, now based in London. Her short films have screened at a range of UK & international festivals including Manchester Film Festival, Underwire, and Bolton Film Festival. She was a finalist for Best British Director at the 2022 British Short Film Awards. All of her projects ensure at least 50% representation for women, trans and non-binary people in cast and crew. She is currently developing her first feature.
“I’m delighted to be a part of the Inspire scheme, and particularly to be mentored by the brilliant Tom George. I have been a fan of his work for years and already as a mentor he has proven as generous as he is talented. I can’t wait to see what the year brings!”
Mentor: Jonny Campbell
Luca is an award-winning Italian director based in London. His latest short film won Best Short at the Oscar-qualifying Rhode Island Film Festival, as well as the Giffoni Film Festival, and was acquired by Rai Cinema and Omeleto for release on their platforms. His debut feature film was recently selected as UK Winner at the JETS Event 2023 within the Berlinale. Luca writes and directs fiction, and has also received training from Miranda Harcourt (acting coach for the likes of Jane Campion) to work with non-professional and child actors.
“I’m excited to be part of Inspire and have the chance to be mentored by the incredibly talented Jonny Campbell. Learning from his creative process is giving me invaluable insights into what makes a director great, therefore allowing me to build the skills and confidence to further advance my career. I can’t wait to develop my projects under Jonny’s guidance and continue to work on my goal of directing my first feature and landing my first directing job in TV!”
Mentor: Bruce Goodison
Mark is a documentary and factual series director/shooting PD, with a wealth of experience in making compelling films and series for leading UK and international broadcasters and platforms. His work covers a wide range of topics, from the brutal realities of summary justice in Iran, to the personal stories of the last surviving D-Day veterans. Originally from a working-class background in Lincoln, Mark has been based in London for over 20 years and is keen to pursue his ambition of directing High-End television. He is currently developing an intriguing true crime drama project.
“It’s a great honour to be part of the Inspire programme and to have the opportunity to learn from the brilliant Bruce Goodison. I’m looking forward to developing my skills and vision with the end goal of directing longform drama.”
Mentor: Miranda Howard-Williams
With an art school background and 20 years of on-set experience (primarily as an AD) writer/director Michelle tells stories that find hope in the most desperate situations. Her short films have screened in UK and international festivals. Michelle is developing a mixed media installation with a Manchester-based charity and is working towards her first broadcast director credit. She lives in Manchester.
“I’m excited to be mentored by Miranda Howard-Williams who, as an Inspire alumnus, is the ideal person to help me gain the most from the programme. I hope to strengthen my skills in key areas where I haven’t yet had much experience, such as development and pre-production.”
Mentor: Catherine Morshead
Onyinye is a director/screenwriter based in London. She directed 2 episodes of Crime and Justice Lagos, which won Best TV Series at the 9th AMVCA. Her short films have screened and been nominated at BAFTA and Oscar-qualifying film festivals around the world. Her feature script, A Season in Talgarreg, featured at Cannes Film Market’s Producers Network in 2022. She is a 2016 BBC Writer Award winner, 2022 BBC London Voices Alumna and 2023 BBC Writers Room shortlister with previous work developed with London CallingPLUS, Film London’s MICROWAVE, and EIFF’s Talent Lab Connects.
“Being a part of this cohort is inspiring on a whole other level for me. It offers long-awaited access to a clearer career direction in TV directing and much-needed traction in the industry. More importantly, and solely due to Directors UK’s Inspire scheme, I get to be mentored by Catherine Morshead, whose unbelievable career crosses over multiple TV genres! I am eager to learn as much as possible and I am excited and hopeful for future possibilities.“
Mentor: Lucy Blakstad
Poonam is a professional director working in theatre and now in film, who is passionate about working with new writers to widen the range of stories told on stage and screen. She has also created work with her own theatre company 3Fates through a devising process, directed short films, including the BFI funded Home Girl, which played at 55 festivals in the UK and internationally, and directed for Hollyoaks to gain experience in TV. She loves working with writers and hope to continue these collaborations. She is evolving into a fledgling writer/director by authoring her own films, through a combination of techniques from writing to improvisation and collaboration with actors and HOD’s, in a bold new step. She is currently planning towards my first feature, Lake at Summer and directing more commercials and her next short film, In Natural Childbirth We Trust.
“I’m thrilled to be mentored by Lucy Blakstad, who has carved her own path through the industry, authoring and directing both features and commercials, in her own distinctive and original style. It has already been hugely inspiring and motivating to chat to Lucy in a wide ranging discussion about directing and life and I can’t wait to develop my projects under her guidance.”
Mentor: Chris Cottam
Ross is a founding member of Deadline Films UK and has directed 4 multi-award winning short films for the company since 2017. He has just finished his web series Hangover Food: Vampire Influencer, which has premiered to rave reviews on the platform Klipist.com. Before this, Ross directed original content for the channel ShowBiz TV, which included 2 original series. In addition, Ross works as an assistant director on high end television and feature films. He has numerous projects in various stages of development.
“I’m delighted to have been accepted on the Inspire programme, and thrilled to be learning from Chris, who has an eclectic body of work. My goals over the next 12 months are to develop as a commercials director, as well as developing my film and television slate.”
Mentor: Steve Hughes
Samuel has an interest in exploring coming-of-age and identity in any genre with a particular love for the clash between fantasy and reality, where ordinary characters finding themselves in extraordinary situations. Being Deaf, Samuel has directed, and at times written and edited, a range of award-winning Deaf / British Sign Language-focused 30-minute dramas for the BSL Zone that were broadcast on Film4. Samuel also co-wrote, edited and directed Freestyle, a short monologue drama that was broadcast on CBBC, and directed Asa, a BFI Network South East short drama starring Nicholas Pinnock. He currently lives in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes.
“I'm very excited about being part of the Inspire scheme as I hope this will be the first step into progressing into directing hearing-led film and TV drama, and being able to work at the same level as my hearing peers.”
Mentor: Toby Frow
Saudat Sanusi is a Nigerian-British female writer/director based in London. Her aim is to tell stories about those who feel caught in between different worlds, whether it be culturally or figuratively. Saudat has directed and produced several award-winning short films. Her focus over the next 12 months is to make her next short film, gain more exposure to TV directing and develop her first feature film.
“I’m excited to be part of the Inspire programme. I’m looking forward to working closely with — and gaining guidance from — my extremely talented mentor Toby Frow. Through Inspire, I’m hoping to learn more about how to build a sustainable career, as well as how to navigate and gain a better understanding of the industry.”
Mentor: Isher Sahota
Timi Akindele-Ajani is a British-Nigerian Director based in London. Timi has worked with a range of organisations across photography and film, such as the British Film Institute, NTS Radio, and Google. His Latest Short Film Guests is being made in collaboration with the BFI and Pavilion Works, and is currently entering the international film festival circuit. Timi’s skills lie in bringing human moments to the screen and telling personal stories with a distinct creative flair.
“I’m thrilled to have been accepted on to the Directors UK Inspire programme. I look forward to learning exactly what goes into directing HETV and improving on my skills as a director. I feel especially lucky to be mentored by Isher Sahota, whose insights have already proven invaluable.”
Mentor: Prano Bailey-Bond
Zillah is a Welsh/English writer, director and artist. Her recent short films have screened and won prizes at BAFTA-qualifying festivals worldwide, including Staying / Aros Mae, which won Grand Jury Prize at Premiers Plans Angers Film Festival and Special Mention at Encounters Film Festival in 2021. A graduate of the National Film and Television School, she is developing her debut fiction feature with Sixteen Films and Ffilm Cymru Wales/BFI NETWORK Wales, and recently participated in the LIM development programme.
“I applied to learn more deeply about the different stages towards making my first feature as a writer/director and I’m excited to learn from Prano’s journey as a visionary filmmaker. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her as my mentor this year.”