Distribution
Credit Hierarchy

This new hierarchy and director definition will apply to all works made from 1 July 2014 onwards. You can view our old hierarchy here.

Definition of a Principal Director:

The role of principal director on an individual film or TV programme (a ‘work’) consists of the following components:

  • interpreting and planning the realisation of the creative content, style and structure of a work
  • capturing and gathering the creative content through directing the production crew, performers, presenters and contributors in a work
  • directing the editing of the creative content to form it into a cohesive whole

Definition of a Series Director:

To be considered a principal director of an individual work or episode, a Series Director must:

  • Direct a significant portion of the episode / series
  • Establish the overall “look” and distinctive visual signature for a series, and ensure that this is carried through the production
  • Be the principal person briefing and leading the creative team including all other directors working on the series

As well as carry out at least one of the below:

  • Be involved in the hiring of the senior creative and technical team and/or junior directors
  • Be significantly involved in overseeing edits and the post production

Credit Hierarchy:

Tier 1*

  • A Film By (in the absence of a director credit) 
  • Directed by 
  • Director 
  • Produced / Directed by 
  • Producer / Director 
  • Series Director (see definition) 
  • Studio Director 
  • Writer / Director 

 Tier 2

  • Animation Director
  • Camera Directors
  • Director / Cameraman
  • DV Director
  • Edit Director**
  • Gallery Director
  • Gallery Producer / Directors
  • Live Action director
  • Location Director

* Any combination of these credits (for example, filmed, produced and directed by) will not affect the ranking of that credit.

** Edit directors are admitted to tier 2 of the hierarchy from 1st July 2015. Only edit director credits on programmes with a first transmission on or after this date qualify under our distribution rules.

  • If a tier 1 director is credited then they shall be deemed to be the principal director.
  • If more than one tier 1 director is credited then they shall all evenly share the credits on our database and any payments due to the work.
  • If no tier 1 director is credited then any tier 2 directors credited will be deemed to be the principal director(s) and, likewise, share any payments evenly in instances where more than one tier 2 director is credited.

Revisited Director (e.g. Grand Designs Revisited):

Payment will be split 50:50 between originating and revisiting directors unless the directors concerned agree a different division and submit details in writing to Directors UK. 

Producer Credit:

Where there is only a credit for Producer and/or Series Producer (i.e. no director credit) payment will not be allocated under the UK Distribution Scheme. We are aware that the absence of a Director credit usually means that the Producer (or Series Producer) performed both functions. However, an individual Producer is not an author under UK Copyright legislation and, therefore, not entitled to payment under our UK Distribution Scheme. It is important that members check their credits and contract carefully.

Pre-July 2014 Credit Hierarchy

Any works first transmitted before July 2014 would be subject to our previous hierarchy, which you can see below.

Order of identification:

  1. Director, Directed by, Producer/Director or Produced & Directed by, Written and Directed By
  2. Filmed and Directed by (where only one director is credited); or Camera and Director (again, where only one director is credited).
  3. Series Director; Where there is a credit as Series Director the following will apply:
    • i. Where a single director is credited on an episode in the series, this director will be identified as being the Principal Director of that programme.
    • ii. Where several directors are credited on an episode, alongside a Series Director, the Series Director will be identified as being the Principal Director.
  4. Location/Item Director or Studio Director (whoever directed the greater part of the programme).
  5. Animation Director

Disputes:

In the event of there being a dispute between directors as to how payment for a production should be shared, no payments will be issued until all of the directors concerned have resolved the dispute and advised Directors UK in writing as to how payments should be divided.

More information about our credit disputes procedure.

Processes involved:

It is the principal director who holds rights and is entitled to payments under our distribution schemes. But how do you identify a principal director in a programme which has a multiple types of director credit? This was a question that was put to the distribution committee last year as they were tasked with reviewing the credit hierarchy which the distribution team use to identify the principal director from off-air credits.

During the course of the review, the hierarchy was also presented to the factual committee as well as a number of non-Committee members for comment and advice.

The first stage of this process was to identify all of the elements of the role of principal director. Despite being mentioned in copyright law, there is surprisingly no legal definition of what a principal director does. The Committee drew upon their experiences and laid out a three stage process of what a principal director would be expected to do on a programme. The definition covers the pre-production, shooting and post-production stages of directing (See above).

As the role of series director can vary from programme to programme, a separate definition was created to help indicate when a series director should be deemed to be the principal director.

The Committee then identified and analysed the different types of director credit currently being used by production companies and ranked them in relation to the definition of a principal director. They reviewed over 35 different types of director credit before deciding upon the final two tiered system above. This system identifies tier 1 directors as those director credits that could reasonably be expected to fulfil most or all of the role of principal director. Tier 2 directors, meanwhile, are those that will only have fulfilled part of the role of principal director.

The hierarchy came into effect on the 1 July 2014 and applies to new works transmitted after this date. Members will need to ensure that their credits on their works transmitted after this date use the following rules.

The new rules will not be applied retrospectively to any works that have already been broadcast.