Published on: 12 December 2019 in Directors UK

A Distributions Committee Update from Dan Zeff

Reading time: 4 minutes and 11 seconds

Directors’ Pay deals, Bullying, Harassment and Directing Nudity Guidelines, Fighting for Gender and BAME Equality, Training and Mentoring, Star-studded screenings and events.

Directors UK does so much, and does it so bloody well, it can be quite dazzling. Literally. Because what that dazzle hides is the beating heart of the organisation – and in many ways our raison d’être – the collecting, managing and distributing of payments for Directors Creative Rights.

As in other departments, we have an exceptionally capable team at the heart of this. The detail and pressure and extent of their work is extraordinary. Especially as over the past years, the collections have continued to grow to record amounts. As have the size of the reports and the number of people receiving payments. And under the near superhuman oversight of our Director of Distribution Sim Cammarota and our Head of Foreign Collections Nikki Hopper, and all of the fantastic distribution team, the speed in which money is allocated and sent out to members hasn’t slowed down a bit. Amazingly, it’s got quicker.

Spare a thought then this Christmas, when a large number of you will be looking forward to receiving a January payment — for the intense dynamo of energy that has been the DUK Distribution department over recent weeks. And whilst without Santa and his hard-working elves you could still – arguably — have Christmas, without a successful Distribution Department, there would be no Directors UK. Simple as that. 

And the work for the team doesn’t stop at Christmas. There are additional UK payments and then the first foreign distribution of the year waiting to be processed in the first half of 2020…

Whist I have you distribution-focussed for a moment, I also want to tell you about the kind of meaty issues we’ve been dealing with this year on the Distribution Committee. 

The committee is made up of Full and distribution only members from all genres – it’s a great chance for us to experience the perspective of those from areas other than our own – and our brief is essentially to oversee the distribution system and ensure the rules and mechanisms remain as fair, transparent and efficient as possible. As the broadcasting landscape continues to go through enormous change and upheaval, we have our work cut out over the coming years.

At our last meeting (we tend to meet around 4 times a year), we had big ethical and practical discussions around  how we should best reflect the continued slowdown in DVD sales and the changing balance of payments for transmission repeats and international sales. 

We also tackled some tricky issues regarding foreign collections, and looked at the ways in which VOD reporting will present challenges to our system going forward: It’s a lot easier to count a terrestrial repeat or a foreign sale – but how do you quantify VOD, or online streaming? How many minutes is a ‘view’? And how do you get the necessary data to judge – when services such as Netflix and Amazon are notoriously secretive about who’s watching their programmes..?

As directors, whilst we generally like to work in the rarified air of the creative world, we’re also well-advised to keep a careful eye on the practical, or else risk stubbing our toe on the concrete realities of our budgetary limitations. Working on the committee, it’s great to get practical insight into the life of our works once completed - how they are consumed, by whom, where, and gain an understanding of the processes that ultimately sustain our industry and our jobs. 

It’s a world that’s rapidly changing and fragmenting in front of our eyes. And it’s vital as an organisation - and also as Directors managing our own careers - that we stay on top of this. We are the storytellers that this industry needs, and - alongside writers - our creativity is its lifeblood. But it’s the practical understanding alongside the political strength that we get from Directors UK that will guarantee we continue to be properly recognised and recompensed as creative rightsholders, and maintain our rightful position at the heart of a thriving industry that we all do so much to sustain. 

The Committee is always open to new members so if any of the above has whet your appetite for more information please contact the office team via [email protected]

Have a great Christmas!

Dan Zeff, Chair of the Directors UK Distributions Committee

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