Published on: 18 December 2015 in Campaigning
2015: Review of the Year
Reading time: 24 minutes and 51 seconds
It’s the end of another huge year for Directors UK, and so we thought it apt to take a bit of time to reflect on everything we - and our members - have done and achieved over the last 12 months, as well as linking to all the great content you may have missed.
2015 started with a bang, with Directors UK members receiving £4.5 million for sales and transmissions made between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014. Early January also saw the publication in The Times of a letter from CEO Andrew Chowns, praising the UK film tax breaks but calling for a “diverse range of British films that reflect our culture, our ideas and our experiences” (ARTICLE). Board member Rebecca Manley wrote us an introduction to the world of animation directing (ARTICLE). On the campaigning front we had open meetings for the BAME Directors Campaign and for directors working in multi-camera and entertainment – you’ll be hearing a lot more from these two groups as we continue through the year… Another aspect of Directors UK’s work that grew and grew as the year progressed, was in the area of training – that began here with the launch of our High-End Drama Training Scheme.
Our events calendar kicked off with a screening of Testament of Youth, followed by a Q&A with director James Kent (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). James also very kindly wrote for us about his move from documentary to TV and then to film (ARTICLE). This was soon followed by a very exciting ‘In conversation with…’ event with Richard Linklater. Richard spoke to Charles Sturridge about his diverse directing career and of course the then-Oscar nominated Boyhood (VIDEO). Awards season was upon us in more ways than one, with Head of Campaigns Ali Bailey penning a number of opinion pieces about the lack of women and minority ethnic directors amongst the Oscar nominees (ARTICLE) and the lack of recognition for British film at the BAFTAs (ARTICLE).
February began with the news that long serving Directors UK Chair Charles Sturridge would be stepping down. Charles achieved a huge amount in his three terms as Chair, overseeing the transformation of Directors UK from a Collective Management Organisation into a full campaigning membership organisation (ARTICLE). Having spearheaded 2014’s Women Directors Campaign, Beryl Richards was duly elected as his replacement, saying that she wished to “make sure the director’s creative voice is heard and respected” (ARTICLE).
The website hosted a number of new articles. Directors UK member Aurora Fearnley wrote about the making of her sci-fi short, Pulsar, telling us about the technical challenges of making a film that was heavily reliant on visual effects (ARTICLE). Imran Naqvi wrote about his experience taking part in the Sky Table Read (ARTICLE). And we wrote about proposed changes to the EU Copyright Directive, and what they could mean for you and your work (ARTICLE).
Events included a screening of the first episode of Channel 4’s smash hit drama Indian Summers, followed by a Q&A with director Anand Tucker (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Matthew Vaughn joined us for a screening of raucous spy flick Kingsman: The Secret Service (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). While The Third Floor visited Directors UK to introduce members to the world of previs (ARTICLE).
The Women Directors Campaign held its first meeting of the year, while the Entertainment and Multi-Camera Committee (we told you to keep an eye on those guys) released an official rate card determining a new minimum daily rate for directors working in those genres.
This month saw the launch of our Pay Survey. Director pay is the one issue that members raise with us again and again, and so, inspired by the work of the Entertainment and Multi-Camera Committee, we decided to arm ourselves with facts and find out exactly what you’re getting paid. You can still fill in the survey now. The more responses we get the better!
One of March’s big pieces of industry news was the fact that Edit Producers would from now on be referred to as Edit Directors (ARTICLE). We held an open meeting about the decision to bring our colleagues into the Directors UK fold, and Board member Tom Roberts explained why this is the only way to prevent the “fragmentation of the director’s role” (ARTICLE). Other industry stories included the announcement of a new “locked-box” revenue sharing deal with the BFI, Pact and The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, giving creatives a better share of the revenue from their film projects (ARTICLE). Andrew Chowns appeared at the Westminster Media Forum, calling for greater support for freelancers, training and the development of talent (ARTICLE). Andrew also wrote about the industry’s growing skills gap in an article for Broadcast (ARTICLE). In perhaps Andrew’s busiest month on record, he also travelled to Brussels with director Roger Michell to support SAA’s launch of its second White Paper on Authors’ Rights and Remuneration (ARTICLE). Meanwhile the digital team went to find out what the future has in store for us at Manchester’s FutureEverything festival (ARTICLE).
On the events front we hosted a screening of autism + maths drama X+Y, followed by a Q&A with director Morgan Matthews (LIVE-TWEETS).
April was a comparatively quiet month at Directors UK but even so we still held a distribution of £600,000 for 2013/14 DVD sales, and brought you several fantastic events, including a screening of Simon Curtis’s Woman in Gold. Simon told Roger Michell how he brought to life this story of a Nazi-stolen Gustav Klimt portrait (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). This was soon followed by a screening of Dark Horse, an inspirational documentary about a Welsh mining village syndicate and their incredible racehorse. Director Louise Osmond joined us for an interesting Q&A afterwards (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Also in April: director, writer and former actor Brian Gilbert led a number of Directors UK members through a Working with Actors workshop.
As the General Election approached, we gave you a rundown of the various promises that were being made about supporting the creative industries (ARTICLE). Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg? Anyone remember those guys?
And so the nation went the polls. No, not the General Election, we’re talking about the far more important decision you had to make this year: who to vote for in the Directors UK Board elections. Members had put themselves forward in March, with voting finally opening on May 11 to elect a whole new Board, a plethora of Committee Chairs and a scattering of Nations and Regions Representatives. Also in May: we held the first of our two annual foreign distributions, paying out around £1.5 million to members.
We screened immaculate conception drama Second Coming, with Yann Demange questioning director Debbie Tucker Green (LIVE-TWEETS). We also hosted a networking evening with our friends at Pact and the CVP Group gave members a demonstration of the latest in gimbal technology. We also held a screening of all five successful applicants to the Directors UK and Arri Challenge ALEXA competition. We spoke to all the directors about their projects, which covered a huge range of subjects, from the forced marriage of an underage British Indian girl to a spoof advert for feet (ARTICLE). You can enter the 2016 contest now.
© Rachel Brewster of Little Vintage Photography
Iain Softley wrote an interesting piece for the Directors UK website on the importance of shooting on film and film preservation, highlighting some of the great (and surprisingly affordable) new packages offered by Kodak and Alpha Grip (ARTICLE). Also on the website, director Zoe McCarthy returned to give us an update on her crowdfunded film noir, Sunset Rose (ARTICLE). Meanwhile, The Sleeping Room director John Shackleton introduced us to an alternative model: equity crowdfunding (ARTICLE).
After lots of campaigning from us, we were very excited to announce that RTS would be introducing two new director categories at the next RTS Craft and Design Awards (skip ahead to December if you’d like to find out who eventually won) (ARTICLE).
We held this year’s AGM on June 11, in the lovely Donmar Dryden Street building. As well as passing motions to accept the audited accounts and new Articles of Association, the evening also saw an update on the current UK Rights Agreement negotiations, a formal goodbye to departing Chair, Charles Sturridge, and the announcement of the Board election results (ARTICLE). We also announced that Directors UK would be joining forces with the Directors Guild Trust and Stage Directors UK to set up a brand new charity: the Directors Charitable Foundation (ARTICLE).
This month also saw us host another entry in our long-running Meet the Commissioners series of events, this time with a panel from Film4 (LIVE-TWEETS). We also held two exciting television screenings this month. First up was an exclusive preview of the final episode of exquisite historical-fantasy adaptation Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, where we were joined by not only director Toby Haynes but also writer Peter Harness (AUDIO, LIVE-TWEETS). This was soon followed by a preview of the first episode of Iain Softley’s The Outcast, another elegant TV adaptation of a beloved novel (VIDEO).
Directors UK travelled to Sheffield to host a panel session entitled ‘How to Keep Control in the Cutting Room’ as part of this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. Directors Tom Roberts, Jill Nicholls, Mike Todd and Kirby Dick were there to share what they’d learnt over their long careers (LIVE-TWEETS). We also reported from this year’s Creative Week festival, particularly the ‘Sense of Direction’ panel that featured directors Nikki Parsons, James Strong and Olly Richards (ARTICLE).
Directors UK member Nik Morris wrote for us about using previs and making the most of limited resources for #HEARoes, a Higher Education Academy narrative commercial project (ARTICLE).
After a very successful inaugural event in 2014, July saw the welcome return of the Directors UK Directors’ Festival. Building on last year we were able to put together an ever bigger and better programme than before, with a whole host of incredible directors working in all sorts of genres and formats. Members were able to meet up, enjoy some fantastic food and drink, and see some insightful and inspirational sessions that celebrated the best and most interesting work being created by their directing peers. Michael Apted gave an impassioned keynote speech about the importance of tenacity, luck and directors’ rights (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). We also had the team behind one of this year’s most impressive dramas: Wolf Hall. Director Peter Kosminsky and editor David Blackmore told us all about their long-standing and fruitful creative collaboration (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Suffragette director Sarah Gavron and Testament of Youth director James Kent joined Piers Haggard for a discussion of their recent work (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Award-winning documentary directors Louise Osmond, Vanessa Engle and Brian Hill discussed how to get the best out of interviews and contributors (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Our second keynote speech was from the very animated and entertaining Legend writer-director Brian Helgeland (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Comedy directors Ed Bye, Ben Taylor, Richard Boden and Christine Gernon discussed how to make comedy lift off the page (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Second Unit Director and Stunt Co-ordinator Lee Sheward was on hand to talk stunts and explosions (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Cath le Couteur, Anand Tucker, Toral Dixit and Richard Max assessed some of the latest new kit (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Animation directors Nicolas Ménard, Andy Martin and Rebecca Manley talked all about their craft (VIDEO). John Dower introduced The Mocap Academy who were there to demonstrate motion capture in action (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). And Digital Manager Ash Mann was on hand to tell directors why they really need to start tweeting more! (LIVE-TWEETS).
In other July news, Steve Smith introduced us to the Albert Consortium and their work to reduce the film and television industry’s carbon footprint (ARTICLE). While Head of Legal Affairs, Charlotte Brotherton wrote about how important it is to read the small print when entering your work into competitions (ARTICLE). We also held our supplementary distribution and paid out over £1.6 million to members.
Perhaps the biggest thing to happen in August was the launch of the brand new Directors UK website. We hope you’re still enjoying our face-lift and that you’re finding it a far better place to visit and read about what we’re up to. We added a host of new articles and content to show off the new site’s capabilities. David Street wrote about his experience filming cycling legend Graeme Obree for the documentary BATTLE MOUNTAIN: Graeme Obree’s Story (ARTICLE). Alex Kalymnios compared directing in the US and the UK (ARTICLE). Martin Percy told us about the skills required to be an interactive director (ARTICLE). We asked Clare Richards and Patrick Collerton, two previous winners of the Grierson Best Newcomer Award, what winning had done for their careers (ARTICLE). And finally we caught up with Claire Oakley, winner of the Best Director award at Underwire 2014, for which she won a year’s membership of Directors UK (ARTICLE).
Our training programme continued to expand with the launch of Directors Room, a brand new scheme giving directors the chance to work on one of the BBC’s four flagship continuing dramas: EastEnders, Holby City, Doctors and Casualty.
We sadly lost two legendary film and television directors in August: Herbie Wise passed away on 5 August, and Jack Gold on 9 August. Piers Haggard and Mary McMurray led the tributes to these two distinguished directors and the impressive body of work they left behind (ARTICLE).
After a short summer break the events schedule got back into full swing with a screening of the extraordinary Mad Max: Fury Road plus a Q&A with director George Miller. It most certainly wasn’t mediocre (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Director Hugo Blick and composer Martin Phipps joined us to discuss a creative partnership that has worked to such great effect on recent TV masterpieces The Honourable Woman and The Shadow Line (AUDIO, LIVE-TWEETS). We had a screening of Dartmoor Killing and spoke to director Peter Nicholson about the inspiring and unconventional means he used to get it funded and distributed (LIVE-TWEETS). We worked with the Royal Opera House to present a session on The Art of Directing at the Deloitte Ignite Festival. Directors David Yates, Thea Sharrock and Kasper Holten told what it’s like to direct in a number of different mediums. And we took members to post-production house Molinaire to Meet the Colourists.
The first results of our pay survey were released to members, giving a better picture than ever before of the realities of director pay. Don’t forget you can still submit a response and ensure that that picture gets even better. The Nations and Regions representatives you elected back in June held their first meetings, with events taking place in Manchester and Cardiff, and Bristol following in early October.
A great deal of debate followed our release of an article about the ubiquity of self-shooting. Stephen Lennhoff and another director who wished to remain anonymous, wrote about the limits of the practice in an article called ‘Self-shooting ourselves in the foot?’ (ARTICLE). Let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook.
October housed the first ever Directors UK Conference, which gave members the chance to chance to shape the debate on the key issues affected your future as a director. A lot of important business was debated, such as our campaign aims regarding pay, working conditions and creative rights, career development and training. Members also got the chance to meet the Board and the Directors UK management team, as well as chat and enjoy some delicious food and drink. We produced a full report on everything that was discussed during the day (ARTICLE). In other governance news, five directors were co-opted to the Board to ensure that it fully represents the range, diversity and skills of our membership (ARTICLE). We also launched a new training scheme with ITV Studios that would give ten potential new multi-camera directors an insight into what goes into making Emmerdale and Coronation Street.
Our campaigning work continued as we announced that following lengthy negotiations we’d finally reached a new UK TV Rights Agreement with broadcasters and producers. The monumental new agreement guarantees us £32.7 million over the course of the deal - a 60% increase over the total paid to us under the previous 3-year agreement (ARTICLE). We also paid out over £1.7 million to members in further distribution payments this month.
In events, we hosted Swedish Film Institute CEO Anna Serner, who told us how Sweden had managed to achieve equal funding for men and women across all film productions. We ran another Meet the Commissioners event, this time with the people from BBC Films (AUDIO, LIVE-TWEETS). And we also had a Short Film Festival Strategy Seminar delivered by Encounters co-founder Kieran Argo (LIVE-TWEETS).
Last month’s self-shooting article inspired John Holdsworth and Max Barber to come to its defence and tell us instead about the joys of self-shooting (ARTICLE). Iain Softley wrote a very interesting piece about the mini, self-organised 20th anniversary re-release of his 1995 cult classic, Hackers (ARTICLE). We also spoke to fellow Board member Illy Hill about his experience advising a Bollywood film that was shooting in the UK earlier this year (ARTICLE).
We went slightly events mad in November, hosting events with two of the most well-known living directors, one of the most acclaimed directors of recent years, and a screening one of the most exciting films of the year. We started off with a special In Conversation with… event with Ridley Scott. Hot off the huge success of The Martian, Ridley joined Kevin Macdonald and a room full of Directors UK members to discuss his incredible body of work (VIDEO). As if that wasn’t enough, we were also lucky enough to have the one and only Steven Spielberg come and address members before a screening of his new film, Bridge of Spies. Steven talked about the British film industry, the importance of pick-up shots and the unavoidable desire to do things differently (VIDEO). We also had a screening of Suffragette, followed by an illuminating Q&A with director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). We held a special memorial event for departed director Jack Gold. And we finished the month with a second In Conversation with… event, this time with Amy and Senna director Asif Kapadia (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Phew, I think we all needed a lie-down after those few weeks.
Our campaigning work continued with two open meetings, one for TV fiction directors, the other to discuss the work of the BAME Directors campaign. And there was an awful lot to discuss, as the middle of November had seen the release of our long-awaited report into the number of BAME directors working in UK television. UK Television: Adjusting the Colour Balance revealed the shocking statistic that only 1.5% of UK television is made by a BAME director (REPORT). We asked a number of BAME directors for their response to the findings; rather damningly, they mostly told us that they were unsurprised and had numerous stories about the discrimination they’d faced within the industry (ARTICLE). Our report was a key area of discussion at BAFTA’s Diversity in Television event hosted by Lenny Henry (ARTICLE).
We’d written a great deal about last year’s Grierson Awards and the fact that very few women had been nominated, won awards or appeared on stage. So we were very pleased to report that things had improved at this year’s ceremony, with directors including Kim Longinotto, Laura Poitras, Rowan Deacon and Jane Pollard all picking up awards (ARTICLE). Ellen Husain wrote a wonderful article for us about the three year quest for the incredible whale hunt footage she shot for the opening episode of nature documentary The Hunt (ARTICLE). And finally, we launched yet another new training scheme, this time a Multi-camera Directors Training Programme.
The first ever winners of the brand new RTS Best Director awards were announced, with Julian Farino triumphing in the Director - Fiction category for Marvellous, and Colette Camden picked up the Director – Non Fiction award for What Do Artists Do All Day? (ARTICLE).
December started with even more exciting events. We hosted a special advance preview screening of The Danish Girl, followed by a Q&A with Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Because one Oscar-winning director just isn’t enough we also held an In Conversation with… event with The Revenant and Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu (LIVE-TWEETS). The thing about Oscar-winning directors is that they’re very moreish, and so we also had a Q&A with the wonderful Danny Boyle following a screening of his new movie, Steve Jobs (LIVE-TWEETS). We also held a panel discussion on UK Film and Women Directors. Absolutely no Oscar-winning directors were present, but then with the number of women allowed to direct Hollywood films that’s hardly surprising. Let’s see what 2016 brings…
So that was the wild and wonderful 2015! We’ll be back next year, with more money to distribute, more campaigning, more fantastic events, more training opportunities, more incredible directors, more video, live-tweets, articles and other content. See you all for a jam-packed 2016.