Published on: 21 December 2016 in Campaigning

2016: Review of the Year

Reading time: 21 minutes and 56 seconds

What a year. What. A. Year. As we approach the dying moments of 2016 we take a look back at everything Directors UK and our members have been up to, as well as link to all the great content - video, audio, live-tweets and more - you may have missed.

January

It might be hard to imagine now, but 2016 actually started off with some rather wonderful news as current Board member and long-time supporter of Directors UK, Piers Haggard, was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to film, television and theatre (ARTICLE). While it didn’t come hand delivered by a member of the royal family, the other members of Directors UK were nevertheless pleased to receive their own reward in the form of a share of the £5.4 million we paid out for sales and DVD across the New Year period. Our events programme got off to a great start with a screening of Bolshoi Babylon and a Q&A with its director Nick Read (LIVE-TWEETS). Corruption and intrigue involving the Russian government; I shouldn’t expect that’ll take on new-found relevance later in the year… Our ever-expanding career development programme started as it meant to go on, with a hugely ambitious multi-camera training scheme. Some of the industry’s top multi-camera directors, including Steve Smith, Jane Elsdon Dew, Geoff Posner, Tony Gregory and Ian Russell, took a team of six young directors through their paces over two weeks of practical learning that culminated in an as-live broadcast complete with presenters, shiny floor studio and OB. The participants reported back to us throughout, filling us in on everything they got up to (VIDEO AND ARTICLE ROUND-UP).

On the campaigning front, we had our first open meeting of the year, with directors working in factual TV coming together to discuss their aims for the year ahead. And Directors UK made an appearance at a creatives’ roundtable organised by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to discuss the future of the BBC.

February

Early February saw the announcement of the results of the latest round of Directors UK Board elections, with Bill Anderson joining as Chair of the TV Fiction Committee, Karen Kelly as the Nations and Regions Rep for Scotland, Lotus Hannon as Associate Member Rep and Anthony Reeves as Rep for Successor Members (ARTICLE). Director Anthony Wilcox wrote for us about his innovative new web series, Shield 5, a thriller that was transmitted in 15-second episodes via social media platform Instagram (ARTICLE). Andrew Chowns explained to members how the BBC would be operating auto-enrolment pension entitlements (ARTICLE). Director Stephen Fingleton joined us for a candid Q&A about his debut feature, The Survivalist (LIVE-TWEETS). Our animation directors met for some animated discussion in our second open meeting of the year. The video from 2015’s The Art of Directing event - held in partnership with the Royal Opera House - was made available, featuring film director David Yates, theatre director Thea Sharrock and Director of The Royal Opera, Kasper Holten (VIDEO). There was more money to be distributed to members: £633,000 worth in fact, for transmissions made between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015. We teamed up with Wales Screen to take our members on a tour of the new Pinewood Studio Wales (ARTICLE). Never work with children or animals, as the old saying goes. Well, we tried to challenge at least half of that truism by having acting coach Miranda Harcourt run a seminar on directing child actors and teens. Directing animals? I’m afraid you’re on your own.

March

In March, we celebrated International Women’s Day with a report from director Lisa Sabina Harney about her experience directing Kenyan TV drama Mukatano Junction and then training two other women to direct their own episodes (ARTICLE). We held a screening of the heart-warming Britcom Eddie the Eagle and heard from director Dexter Fletcher afterwards (LIVE-TWEETS).

We were particularly focussed on production, distribution, finance and sales this month, with a panel of executives from Film4 joining us for a discussion evening about the topic (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Similarly, director Shane Davey wrote about taking his film The Albion Falls through a residential workshopping process at Production Value in Amsterdam (ARTICLE). Newly-elected Scotland Rep Karen Kelly hosted an event in Glasgow, giving Scottish members the chance to meet her and discuss their concerns and needs. Across the North Channel, TG4 were getting ready to broadcast Eipic, a raucous Gaelic comedy-musical-drama series. Director Louise Ní Fhiannachta wrote an article explaining how she captured the required tone and energy for this exciting and original series (ARTICLE). The next round of the ITV Continuing Drama Training Scheme took place, with seven directors working for a week on Coronation Street. You may have noticed the albert+ symbol appearing in the closing credits of more and more TV series as the year has gone on; well that’s partly down to the dedicated team at albert and albert Ambassadors such as The Graham Norton Show director Steve Smith. Steve explained why sustainability is a director’s responsibility (ARTICLE).

April

April saw us host a preview screening of BBC documentary Abused: The Untold Story from director Olly Lambert. This gripping film made sure that attention was paid to the victims of sexual abuse rather than the perpetrators, and Olly joined us to talk about conducting such a difficult series of interviews (LIVE-TWEETS). Director Phil Turner wrote a timely piece about the way the touchscreen is changing the type of content viewers consume and what directors should be doing to adapt (ARTICLE). I know you won’t believe me but one of the most important events in April was a series of extremely dramatic and exciting changes that were made to the way collecting societies like Directors UK are regulated. We made sure to carefully explain the consequences of these changes and what they mean for members (ARTICLE). Media Wizards ran a seminar on the importance of contract law and everything a director needs to know before signing their contract (key takeaway, probably: if an exec asks you to sign something in blood take extra special care when reading the small print). And finally, we joined forces with PACT to organise a very successful networking evening for factual directors and producers.

May

The main story in May was the release of Cut Out of the Picture, our big report of the year, this time focussing on the number of women directors working in UK film (spoiler alert: there aren’t many of them) (REPORT AND SUMMARY). As well as the broad facts, we asked a whole host of brilliant directors, both male and female, to share their thoughts on our findings and gender inequality more generally (ARTICLE). The report generated a huge amount of attention, appearing in newspapers and magazines, all over Twitter and Facebook, and even on radio (ROUND-UP). We also took the report to Cannes, where a number of industry representatives backed our recommendation that women should be directing 50% of publicly-funded films by 2020 (AUDIO AND LIVE-TWEETS).

But just because we were busy releasing this important piece of research, it didn’t mean we could let up on all our other activities. The distribution team sent out the first of our two annual foreign distributions, paying out £1.6 million to members. We held a screening of Susanna White’s tense John le Carré thriller, Our Kind of Traitor (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). We teamed up with Women in Film and Television for a breakfast meeting between directors and DoPs. We also ran a workshop informing members of everything they need to know about privacy and consent. Directors UK member Des Daniels was selected for a mentoring opportunity on Wall to Wall’s Who Do You Think You Are? (ARTICLE). And director Chris Chung wrote about making his independent cross-cultural comedy pilot, Wok (ARTICLE).

June

June started with a screening of this year’s Challenge ALEXA finalists. We spoke to the five directors taking part and asked them how the process went (ARTICLE). You can also watch two of those films alongside many others in our new archive of four years’ worth of Challenge ALEXA films (VIDEOS). We held our AGM, taking members through a whole host of important governance matters (REPORT). Directors UK was in attendance at the Media Production Show, and we brought directors Andy de Emmony, Dearbhla Walsh, Saul Metzstein, Lewis Arnold and James Hawes with us for a panel session looking at the growth of international co-productions and the different expectations that come with directing UK drama for an international audience (LIVE-TWEETS). We were allowed out the office again mere days later, as we travelled up to Sheffield Doc/Fest for our session on what elevates a documentary to make it something people pay to see in the cinema. Morgan Matthews, John Dower, Louise Osmond, Anthony Wonke and James Spinney explained all (LIVE-TWEETS). There was an event organised to allow Associate members to meet their rep, Lotus Hannon. Lotus also spoke to a group of Associate members for an article about what being a member of Directors UK means to them (ARTICLE). We hosted two practical sessions for members as well: a factual directors’ networking event in association with Wall to Wall, and a carbon literacy training workshop with the guys from albert. The end of June was dominated by the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Before the big day we published our thoughts on the possible consequences for directors and the industry (ARTICLE), and once the result was known we assured members that we would do everything in our power to support their rights and protect their royalties (ARTICLE). Where does it all go from here? Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be 100% clear by the end of the year.

July

As is now traditional, the BIG event in July was the annual Directors’ Festival. Returning once again to Millbank Tower in London, the day kicked off with a Q&A with Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha, who appeared in conversation with Simon Curtis (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). We had a session on directing presenters featuring Film... presenter Danny Leigh (LIVE-TWEETS). Attendees were given the chance to play with the latest Virtual Camera technology (LIVE-TWEETS). Animation director Mark Waring spoke about his work on stop-motion films like Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie and Fantastic Mr. Fox (LIVE-TWEETS). And a panel of commissioners taught us how not to pitch (LIVE-TWEETS).

A colourist, a post-production supervisor and music supervisor walked into a panel session and imparted their expert opinions on the various post-production processes that directors need to know about (LIVE-TWEETS). Four commercials directors told us about the creativity that exists in the wonderful world of commercials (LIVE-TWEETS). Stephen Frears was there for an in-depth Q&A about his 40-year career (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). And we sent members home with a screening of the hilarious Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and a Q&A with director Mandie Fletcher (VIDEO, LIVE-TWEETS). Watch the highlights video, take a look at all the other content and make sure you get your ticket next year! (ROUND-UP OF VIDEOS AND LIVE-TWEETS).

Also in July, we paid out the supplementary UK distribution, dishing out around £1.33 million. In sadder news, Directors UK member Caroline Aherne passed away. Directors Dominic Brigstocke and Tony Prescott told us what it was like to work with her genius (ARTICLE).

August

August was a relatively quiet month for Directors UK but we still managed to travel up to Scotland for the Edinburgh International Television Festival. CEO Andrew Chowns and director Christiana Ebohon-Green appeared on a panel there, discussing ways to address the industry’s need for high-end TV talent (VIDEO), and we also teamed up with Raising Films to host a career planning and personal development session for film industry professionals. Elsewhere, we had a Bristol screening of Swallows and Amazons and a Q&A with the director, Philippa Lowthorpe. The legal team explained to members about recent changes to intermediaries’ legislation and the implications for directors (ARTICLE). We delivered updates on two of our recent career development programmes: directors Charlotte George, Claire Tailyour and Christine Lalla were mentored on Hollyoaks, and told us about the experience and being invited back to direct episodes in their own right (VIDEO AND ARTICLE); plus we spoke to the five directors who were selected for 2015’s High-end Drama Mentoring scheme (ARTICLE). Skipping ahead slightly, you can now apply for the next iteration of this scheme (APPLY).

September

It was all change at Directors UK in September as we moved a whole 320 metres away to our new offices on Stukeley Street (ARTICLE). Despite the upheaval we were still able to put on plenty of other events and sessions for our members, including the fantastic Creative Partnerships Day in collaboration with Film London and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB). The day included sessions with directors J Blakeson, Philippa Lowthorpe and William McGregor alongside an enviable selection of top writers and producers (LIVE-TWEETS). Director-writer-producer-actor Noel Clarke joined us for a Q&A and screening of BrOTHERHOOD. Director of the first film in the ‘HOOD trilogy Menhaj Huda returned to ask Noel some searching questions in this extremely candid session (AUDIO, LIVE-TWEETS).

Menhaj was also on hand to lead the latest open meeting about our ongoing BAME directors campaign (CAMPAIGN). We hosted a special practical workshop in Scotland with director Kenny Glenaan about making the leap from factual to drama. We also went to the Encounters Festival to partner on the Widening the Lens pitching competition, and for Ali Bailey, Head of Campaigning at Directors UK, to take part in a panel looking at how the industry can tackle diversity ethics within film and filmmaking practice.

October

October was a big month for us including as it did a number of important events and our second foreign distribution, where we paid out over £1.5 million to members. This followed a number of changes to the Distribution Committee, with long-term Chair Delyth Thomas stepping down in favour of fellow Committee member Dan Zeff (ARTICLE). We took part in the London Film Festival, hosting an event that offered a filmmaker’s guide to virtual reality. Directors UK Chair Beryl Richards led an open meeting about our gender equality campaign, updating members on the progress that had been made since the release of the Cut Out of the Picture report in May (CAMPAIGN). Celebrated Polish director Andrzej Wajda sadly died in October. His influence was felt far beyond Poland and Directors UK member Udayan Prasad told us what his work meant to him (ARTICLE). We hosted two screenings in quick succession this month, starting with an unsurprisingly dapper Tom Ford, who joined us for a screening of his intense second feature Nocturnal Animals (VIDEO). Next was Chanya Button’s debut feature, touching comedy drama Burn Burn Burn (AUDIO, LIVE-TWEETS).

The Molinare sound team invited members to their theatre to answer questions about mixing, dubbing, ADR and recording sound. And we ended the month with the second Directors UK Conference, where members joined us to discuss the changing nature of directing, and we explored the ways in which directors can respond to new forms of content, the explosion of platforms, and the growth of the gig economy. A lot of interesting conversations and discussion took place, giving us plenty of ideas about where to focus our efforts over the next 12 months.

November

We started November with the launch of our BBC continuing drama director training scheme, organised in conjunction with BBC Writersroom and Creative Skillset. This time directors were given the opportunity to work on Doctors, River City, Holby City or Casualty, with the hope that they’d be invited back to helm their own episode (ARTICLE). We supported the Televisual Factual Festival, hosting the closing drinks reception and organising a panel session on directing factual entertainment. Directors Alice Wheater, Heenan Bhatti and Barnaby Coughlin spoke to Factual Committee Chair Nic Guttridge about their experiences working on some of the biggest factual entertainment programmes on TV. In Scotland, members were taken behind the scenes of landmark documentary series Prison: First and Last 24 Hours, with director/producer Morag Tinto and others in attendance. Peaky Blinders director and Board member Otto Bathurst delivered a call to arms to members, relaying the story of how he got involved in the work of Directors UK and explaining what other directors can do to join the cause (ARTICLE). We launched a new initiative allowing directors and producers the chance to meet exciting creative talent from the world of theatre – members can still sign up (APPLY). Muggles rejoiced at our screening of one of the most anticipated films of the year, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. MyTherapy founder Dado Valentic and Board member Cath Le Couteur led a seminar about the production chain of HDR (High Dynamic Range) content and told us what directors need to know to create and deliver a project in HDR. We also ran a practical workshop on the subject of ‘the director as entrepreneur’, featuring directors such as James Hawes and Susanna White. This event gave members the lowdown on how to develop, pitch and, crucially, own their next project. We caught up with Coky Giedroyc, the BAFTA-winning director of Women Talking Dirty, The Virgin Queen and The Sound of Music Live, to ask her about her career, the industry and her collaboration with actors and writers (ARTICLE). And while the rest of the world entered the dark timeline from Back to the Future II, three representatives from Directors UK travelled to Strasbourg to lobby the European Parliament on the subject of copyright reform and fair remuneration for directors. Just unbelievable lobbying. The best. Biggly. Director/Board Vice-Chair Tom Roberts and Victoria Morris, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, give a little more detail in their own report (ARTICLE).

December

December kicked off with a belated house/office-warming party, welcoming members to our humble abode on Stukeley Street. Directors UK Chair Beryl Richards was the well-deserved recipient of the Achievement of the Year award at the Women in Film and Television Awards, recognised for her work on our gender equality campaign (ARTICLE).

Photo courtesy of Women in Film and Television.
Photo courtesy of Women in Film and Television.

In other award news, we teamed up with Underwire to give Eva Sigurdardottir the Best Director award for her short film Rainbow Party (ARTICLE). We were also at the TriForce Short Film Festival for a session on proactive career paths, creating your own work, and working within and without the system. Presenter Reggie Yates chaired, with directors Destiny Ekaragha and Shola Amoo amongst those taking part. There was lots going on in the world of career development, starting with another networking evening with PACT for directors and producers, this time for those working in drama and comedy. We also partnered with Channel 4 and Touchpaper for 4Stories, a new talent scheme that aims to encourage more women, BAME, and people with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds to become directors – applications are open until Friday 6 January (APPLY). And we were very excited to launch our expanded High End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme with the help of Creative Skillset. This initiative will help to progress and diversify the directing talent in high end TV drama through creating six 12-week paid placements with various production companies and broadcasters, including on BBC One’s Silent Witness and a future project from Kudos. Apply by Monday 16 January (APPLY).

All this and we still found time for two high profile screenings. First, Barry Jenkins appeared with Asif Kapadia to discuss his beautiful new film, Moonlight (VIDEO AND LIVE-TWEETS). Secondly, Damien Chazelle joined members and moderator Gurinder Chadha for a screening of his sublime musical La La Land. Expect to hear a lot more about these films and directors as we approach awards season proper in the new year.


2016 is dead! Long live 2017! We’ll be back in the new year with more money to distribute, more campaigning, more fantastic events, more career development opportunities, more incredible directors, more videos, audio, live-tweets, articles and other content.

If you’d like to attend these kinds of events and take advantage of these opportunities in 2017 then why not join Directors UK or upgrade to Full Membership?

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