Published on: 02 December 2014 in Longform
2014: Review of the Year
Reading time: 19 minutes and 21 seconds
2014 has been an incredibly busy and successful year for Directors UK and here we round-up just some of the highlights. Please feel free to share your own in the comments below.
We started off the year in customary fashion, with members receiving their traditional New Year UK distribution payments from a grand total of over £3.5 million. Our first screening of the year was for ladies toilet-based drama Powder Room, by first-time feature director MJ Delaney. We invited some of the top agents and agencies for a briefing at Directors UK HQ. The first entertainment and multi-camera open meeting took place, where it was decided which issues we’d be focusing on in the coming year. And CEO Andrew Chowns represented Directors UK at a Ministerial Roundtable meeting on diversity given by Ed Vaizey MP.
Board highlights: John Dower
Joining, as a newcomer, a Directors UK board with teeth and feeling that, at last, I was part of an organisation that can and is promoting -The importance in the role that directors play. The status of directors. How important it is to create a level playing field where directors are valued because of their voice, talent and vision and not because of where they come in an outmoded view of 'the pecking order'.
In early February members were invited to attend a camera drones demo given by 3 Mills Studios and Beyond HD – check out the Black Armoured Drone 3 they were able to test drive. We hosted a screening of some of the best UK shorts featured at this year’s London Short Film Festival.
And we hosted a fascinating and very funny audience with David O. Russell, where the Oscar-winning director of American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook told us about his early career, his years in the Hollywood wilderness and how he wishes he hadn’t called his first film Spanking the Monkey (VIDEO).
March saw a screening of the beguiling Under the Skin (some of us have only just started to sleep through the night again), followed by a Q&A with Jonathan Glazer (VIDEO). We held a number of successful CV clinics in Bristol and Glasgow. Helping to put a greater emphasis on directors in non-broadcast mediums, the first animation directors open meeting took place, followed by an event looking at directing for video games and interactivity. Directors UK President Paul Greengrass delivered this year's David Lean Lecture, discussing his first experiences of cinema and explaining why young directors need to be given more opportunities in the UK film industry.
Our very own Ash Mann joined Directors UK as head of Website and Social Media. We signed a reciprocal distribution agreement with Argentinian collecting society DAC. Directors UK made submissions to the European Commission’s public consultation on the review of EU copyright rules, and to the Intellectual Property Office consultation on extending the benefits of collective licensing. And we distributed a further £1.7million under the UK scheme to members for DVD sales and international sales of programmes reported by production companies.
In April we had a Q&A with filmmaker, writer and amateur dentist Richard Ayoade, following a screening of his sophomore film The Double (LIVE TWEETS). We held a dual-language Meet the Commissioners event with S4C (ENGLISH VIDEO, WELSH VIDEO). We had a preview screening of the adrenalin-charged first episode of ITV drama Prey, followed by a candid Q&A with director Nick Murphy (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). Following a successful London event in March, Directors UK once again teamed up with the BBC for a workshop aimed at women directors looking to return to work, this time in Salford. And ARRI gave 4 members the opportunity to make a short film in and around Covent Garden with their new AMIRA camera, before the rest of our members got a full camera demo later that day – read a report from ARRI or watch member Richard Elson’s short film here.
Board highlights: Steve Smith
My highlight of the year has been helping to bring multi-camera directors together so we can share our experiences and work together to ensure we all have a brighter future. Since our first meeting in January we have achieved a lot. We’ve set a new minimum daily rate and started a pay campaign, we are negotiating creative rights agreements to give us more security in our roles and we are coming together to work out how to train the multi-camera directors of the future. 2014 has been a productive year but is only the start with more to do in 2015.
The big event in May was the release of our report into the number of women directors working in UK television: Women Directors – Who’s Calling the Shots? Showing that only 11% of drama series episodes were directed by women, with many of the most popular shows never having employed a woman, the report was a big news story appearing in The Guardian, The Telegraph, Broadcast, IndieWire, Televisual, Ariel, The Knowledge, The Stage, BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and Media Show programmes, Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon show and the World Service’s Newshour (REPORT, SUMMARY).
We had a screening of blockbuster Godzilla, followed by a Q&A with Gareth Edwards (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). We then went on tour for a week, visiting Cardiff, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester as part of the Directors UK Roadshow, meeting members from the nations and regions and finding out about their concerns (LIVE TWEETS). Member Francis Annan wrote for us about his experience shooting on 35mm for his film The Longest Drive (ARTICLE). Alison Bailey joined the Directors UK staff as Head of Campaigns. And the first foreign distribution of the year took place, paying out £1.4 million to members.
The cornerstone of June was the first ever Directors UK Directors’ Festival, taking place in the spectacular surroundings of Altitude London in the Millbank Tower. This fantastic day featured interesting panels, lively debates, a screening of Belle, appearances from Amma Asante, Tom Hooper, Mike Newell, Jed Mercurio, Geoff Posner, Hamish Hamilton, Nikki Parsons, Ben Anthony and Nick Holt – but most importantly, it gave members the chance to meet, have a drink and celebrate directors and directing (VIDEOS, LIVE TWEETS, PHOTOS). The festival also saw the debut of One of You, Many of Us – a short film about Directors UK and the work it does for directors (VIDEO).
Directors UK took part in Sheffield Doc/Fest, with a provocative panel looking at whether working and directing in factual is still creative (LIVE TWEETS). We held the first meetings of the Campaigns and the Reserves and Un-distributable Funds Committees. We hosted a Working with Actors workshop in Cardiff. And member Michael Lavers wrote for us about crowdfunding his latest film, Joseph’s Reel (ARTICLE).
July started with the announcement that Paul Greengrass would be stepping down as President of Directors UK, having served in the role since 2007 and overseeing a hugely successful and transformative 7 years (ARTICLE). We launched EMPLOYER ADVISOR, a brand new web service providing a comprehensive guide to what it's really like to work for all the different production companies in the UK, with members submitting reviews and sharing their experiences - both the good and the not so good (WEBSITE). From July 1 the new Credit Hierarchy came into effect (DETAILS).
The Women Directors Campaign webpage was launched: directors.uk.com/women, giving members an update on all the latest news on the campaign and the wider discussion on gender diversity issues (LINK). We held another Meet the Commissioners event, this time with the guys from London Live (VIDEO). We ran a Manchester CV clinic in collaboration with the BBC. We invited members to see a demo of the new RAPTA system at Prime Focus. And the supplementary UK distribution paid out over £1.4 million to members.
At the beginning of August we held a screening of supernatural thriller Blackwood, followed by a Q&A with director Adam Wimpenny (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). We formally called on ITV Studios to enter into pay negotiations on behalf of freelance directors of continuing drama series, in a letter signed by 40 directors of Emmerdale and Coronation Street (DETAILS). Screen legend Lauren Bacall sadly passed away and directors Charles Sturridge and James Cellan Jones wrote for us about their experiences of working with her (ARTICLE). Director Susanna White appeared on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour to represent Directors UK in a discussion about the low number of women directors, with a lot of the discussion focused on our earlier research (ARTICLE). First time director C.A. Cooper wrote for us about the rather unconventional methods he used to make his feature The Snare (ARTICLE).
CEO Andrew Chowns and Head of Campaigns Alison Bailey attended the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, feeding back their thoughts on the various panels and sessions and what they might mean for directors (ARTICLE). And we were extremely saddened by the death of Lord Richard Attenborough CBE, following a long and distinguished career at all levels of film production and having made an immeasurable contribution to the British film industry (OBITUARY, A PERSONAL TRIBUTE BY SIR ALAN PARKER).
September kicked off with a screening of psychological thriller Before I Go to Sleep, followed by a Q&A with director Rowan Joffe (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). Member Christine Lalla wrote an article for us about shooting her no-budget feature The New Boy (ARTICLE). We held a Working with Writers session in partnership with Fresh Voices; aimed at black and minority ethnic writers and directors, the session included a Q&A with Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio (LIVE TWEETS). This was followed later in the month by our first BAME Directors Open Meeting, allowing members to share their experiences ahead of a Directors UK campaign in 2015 looking to address the lack of racial diversity in UK film and television production.
Directors UK attended the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol, bringing back our top 10 tips for directors from the Meet the Buyers session (ARTICLE). A number of board members travelled to Malmö in Sweden - home to the highest murder rate outside Midsomer - to represent Directors UK at the FERA Assembly; directors John Dower and Dan Clifton reported back on their experiences and what they learnt about the Nordic model of TV production (ARTICLE). We assisted board member Piers Haggard in setting up a new organisation to represent and improve the pay and working conditions of directors working in the theatre, Stage Directors UK. And we launched our Pay Campaign webpage - directors.uk.com/pay - by publishing an official rate card for directors of entertainment and multi-camera programmes, establishing a new minimum daily rate of £600 for all directors (LINK).
Board highlights: Rebecca Manley
The first is the recent screening of The Lego Movie followed by a wonderful Q&A with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I was excited, especially as the board member representing animation, that it was an animation event with such high profile speakers. And I was pleased that the Q&A struck a good balance between children's queries about the film and its characters and the emotional, technical and practical aspects of making an animated feature. It was a really fun evening. My second highlight is the Q&A with Amma Asante at the DUK festival. For me, as a female director, it was refreshing to hear Amma speak about her career so far and making Belle. She has a real energy and passion for her work and I found her extremely inspiring.
As part of October's London Film Festival, Directors UK hosted The Big Picture on Small Screens, a panel about working as a director across multiple mediums including film, television, commercials and more; joining us were directors Susanna White, James Kent, Bryn Higgins and Jen McGowan (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). We held a screening of Yann Demange's debut feature, the tense war drama '71, followed by a Q&A (LIVE TWEETS).
Later that month saw the debut of the first Directors UK-ITN Source Video Pub Quiz, with the brilliant team at ITN Source developing a series of fiendishly difficult questions based on some of the most obscure and fascinating footage from their archive (in case you were wondering, the Directors UK staff team came a dignified second). Andy Williams, Managing Director of ITN Source, wrote for us about the company and how they can help directors with their work (ARTICLE). The month ended with a seminar on pensions auto-enrolment aimed specifically at freelance directors, courtesy of accountants Berg Kaprow Lewis. And £1.4 million was paid out to Directors UK members in the latest foreign distribution.
In early November Directors UK hosted a session at the Broadcast Production & Post Forum, entitled Production on a Budget; we were there to summarise a few of the tips and advice shared by directors Toral Dixit, Peter Nicholson and Matt Harlock (LIVE TWEETS). Everything was awesome at our special screening of The Lego Movie, followed by a brilliant Q&A with directing team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (VIDEO, LIVE TWEETS). The screening was also a great opportunity to hold our latest animation directors meeting.
Following the low number of women winners and nominees at this year's Grierson Trust British Documentary Awards, we co-hosted a debate at the Televisual Festival entitled Invisible Women: The Great Documentary Disappearing Act, with directors Toral Dixit and Jill Nicholls on the panel (VIDEO AND LIVE TWEETS). Mark Lawson penned an article for the Guardian entitled Why television will never be a director's medium, which triggered a number of interesting and illuminating responses from our members including Charles Sturridge, Robin Sheppard and Toby Haynes (ARTICLE).
Having received an increasing number of enquiries from members about crowd-funding, we published our top tips on the do's and don'ts of funding your project this way (ARTICLE). We also featured a case study from member Zoe McCarthy, writing about the successful crowd-funding campaign for her latest short, the noir-influenced Sunset Rose (ARTICLE). The Directors UK Offices played host to an exhibition of Sir Alan Parker's acerbic cartoons about the film industry.
The board approved the launch of a new Directors UK Bursary Fund which will enable members to apply for funding to put towards the cost of training courses or postgraduate courses that benefit their career as a director (DETAILS). Directors UK welcomed the call for a Judicial Review of the unfair UK Private Copying Law (DETAILS). We hosted Meet Film London, giving members the opportunity to hear directly from Film London about how they can help directors (VIDEO AND LIVE TWEETS, ARTICLE). And following the publication of new Ofcom figures suggesting that children and teens are now watching half as much TV as adults, we asked several members working in children's TV and non-broadcast media to speculate on how this will effect directors (ARTICLE).
December started with a trip to the Screen International Film Summit, with Membership Services and Events Officer Abigail Berry there to represent Directors UK and report back on how the findings of the various panels will effect directors in the coming months and years (LIVE TWEETS). Directors UK welcomed the announcement in the government's Autumn Statement of plans to introduce a new tax incentive for children’s television (DETAILS). We held a screening of the spectacular Interstellar, followed by a very special Q&A with Christopher Nolan - you can read an in-depth report on all the things he discussed, including his early career, the impact of blockbusters and the importance of shooting on film (ARTICLE). We also celebrated the season with a festive family screening of social-realist feel-good Christmas film Get Santa. Member Richard Elson wrote for us about filming A Christmas Star for the charity Cinemagic, and more generally about working as a director in the charitable sector (ARTICLE).
And we ended the year with a trip to Strasbourg, with CEO Andrew Chowns, Head of Communications and Public Affairs Amanda Parker and board member Delyth Thomas visiting the European Parliament to lobby MEPs on behalf of Directors UK, and to support member Pawel Pawlikowski as he won the LUX Film Prize 2014 for his film Ida.
Phew! Here's to an equally packed 2015. What were your highlights? Let us know in the comments below.