At this year’s AGM, we said goodbye to several members of the Directors UK Board.
We’d like to thank Directors UK Chair Steve Smith, Vice-Chairs Bill Anderson and Susanna White, and board members Ed Bye, Jan Genesis, Nic Guttridge, Lotus Hannon, Morgan Hopkins, Christine Lalla and Dan Zeff for all their hard work representing directors and steering Directors UK over the years.
Since 2017, the year of our last full Board elections, the industry has been in a state of flux – perennial issues like poor working conditions, unfair pay and unequal representation have been joined by new challenges, such as Brexit, coronavirus, and the rise of new media platforms. And every step of the way, the Board has been engaging with our staff team and industry and political stakeholders to make sure that directors always have a voice.
Below, we take a look at some of the amazing things the Board has done to advance the cause of directors since our last elections in 2017.
In recent years, Directors UK has made waves and gained international recognition for its rigorous studies and campaigns on director representation. Who’s Calling the Shots? A report on gender inequality among directors working in UK TV and Adjusting the Colour Balance: A report on BAME representation among directors working in UK TV, were both released in 2018 – gaining widespread attention across the media and in Parliament. We also released an essential resource, Bullying & Harassment: A Handbook for Screen Directors, the very same year.
Through all of this campaign work, our Board has been an essential part of the process, providing expert feedback and helping to spread the word – both through their own industry networks and by appearing as the public face of Directors UK in the national press, on social media and on the radio. Their hard work has helped to create these indispensable resources for directors, and make sure they reach the right people.
2019 saw the publication of Directors UK’s Guidelines for Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex, which garnered international attention and acclaim as one of the first resources to address how to safely shoot intimate scenes. This was followed by Intimacy in the Time of COVID-19 in 2020. Both resources have become industry best practice and were developed with outgoing vice-chairs Susanna White and Bill Anderson, who were able to share their insight as working directors in film and television.
COVID-19 has put a greater spotlight than ever before on the need for safe working conditions, and Nic Guttridge worked alongside the Directors UK Factual Working Group, Directors UK Pay and Working Conditions Committee and others to create Working Under COVID: Advice for Factual Directors – an essential toolkit for working safely that applies to directors of all genres.
Away from campaigning, our Board has gone above and beyond to represent directors’ viewpoints and elevate the status of the director at every turn – whether through writing for trade publications about the director’s role, highlighting the importance of securing the proper director credit and for those credits to be given due prominence, or attending and representing Directors UK at industry and political events. Board members have also taken part in significant, cross-industry discussions and consultations, such as last year’s BAFTA 2020 review, which resulted in a substantial improvement in equality and representation at the BAFTA Film Awards. And they have always been on hand to provide insight to the government and industry consultations that we regularly submit on our members’ behalf. Moreover, board members have been a constant presence at Directors UK events – including our annual Director’s Cut festival and AGMs – often appearing as guests and moderators, as well as hosting genre-specific open meetings, such as the recent multi-camera meeting hosted by Ed Bye, to make sure that members always have a say.
And the behind-the-scenes work – which until COVID was most often undertaken at our Covent Garden offices – must not go unnoticed. Distribution is the lifeblood of Directors UK, and as chair of the Distribution Committee, Dan Zeff has helped to provide a member’s-eye view on the payment of royalties, during a period when our organisation has produced some of its largest ever pay-outs.
Together, these board members have helped to guide Directors UK through significant internal changes, including the selection and welcoming of Andy Harrower as our new CEO. They have also overseen a streamlining and restructuring of the Board.
Our Directors of Colour Committee was launched by Jan Genesis and Christine Lalla. This new committee will continue to play a vital role in our ongoing anti-racism work. Similarly, our Access and Inclusion Committee, previously co-chaired by Lotus Hannon (and currently chaired by Anna Thomson), guides our efforts to fight for an industry that is accessible for all.
Meanwhile, Morgan Hopkins, as chair of the Nation and Regions Committee, has started a process to remodel our approach so that it caters to our membership across the UK. The aforementioned Distribution and Pay and Working Conditions committees have shaped our campaigns work and the way we support all our members. And finally, the Nominations Committee, co-chaired by Bill Anderson and Jessica Hobbs, has been instrumental in reaching out and finding the next generation of Directors UK Board members.
It also shouldn’t be forgotten that all the members of the Board have managed to fulfil all these duties whilst also maintaining successful careers as working directors.
Directors UK CEO Andy Harrower said of the outgoing board members: “Steve, Bill, Susanna, Christine, Dan, Ed, Jan, Lotus, Morgan and Nic have dedicated a great deal of their time and effort over the years, and have helped ensure that Directors UK continues to do its very best for our members. On behalf of all of us at Directors UK, I’d like to thank them all for their passion, talent and dedication. I look forward to working with them in other capacities in the future, whether as members of committees or working groups or just as valued members of Directors UK.”