Published on: 20 June 2022 in Directors UK

Directors UK Annual Report: 2021 - 2022

Reading time: 6 minutes and 15 seconds

Read a message from our CEO, Andy Harrower and a note from our Chair, Karen Kelly, who both reflect on a “year of great change” for directors, our organisation and the industry. 

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Statement from the Chief Executive

This report spans a year of great change. From living under lockdown and working under restrictions, to navigating life with COVID-19, the world looked very different at the start of the twelve months we cover than it did at the end. One constant is that the copyright directors hold for the works they create has huge value. Another is that it is our job to ensure that directors are properly rewarded for what they do. 

During the 2021/2022 financial year we paid out a total of £18.5million to directors across all distributions, our highest ever total distributions in one year. We distributed £10.5million to more than 4,000 members under the UK distribution scheme. We distributed just under £8million in foreign payments, which is our largest foreign distribution to date. A great indication that our members’ works are enjoyed both at home and across the globe.

Our membership grew to 8,082. Despite changing restrictions, we delivered services tailored to our members both online and in person. Our specialist legal support was accessed by a record number of members. We offered an extensive series of in conversation events with acclaimed directors working across formats and genres, an array of skills webinars and networking opportunities. By embracing new ways of working we can build connections and community within our membership. 

We worked on many projects designed to give professional directors the tools and experience they need to sustain careers, no matter their level of experience. To name but a few, these projects included: partnering with BBC Studios to deliver mentoring and training opportunities to under-represented directors on continuing drama productions; supporting 4Stories to offer emerging drama directors the opportunity to direct a film for the BAFTA-winning anthology On the Edge; and pitching for and securing funding from the ScreenSkills’ Unscripted TV Skills Fund to programme a UK-wide training course designed to address urgent skills gaps in unscripted TV. All of our career development programmes directly support and bolster the skills within the existing workforce, and aim to prevent barriers to progression.

It is vital that the experiences of our members are shared with policy makers and those shaping the regulations that affect directors. Directors UK acts as a voice for directors in industry and government conversations by responding to numerous complex consultations, inquiries and roundtables on a broad range of issues, from the impact of the pandemic on the industry to public service broadcasting issues, and by being actively engaged in the work of a number of cross-industry working groups. Directors have a seat at the table. 

Through coverage in trade and mainstream media, articles on our website and our podcast, we’ve celebrated the working practices of directors and promoted the craft of directing to a global audience. Work that solidifies the importance of the role of the director. 

In July 2021, Steve Smith, an outstanding champion for directors, reached the end of his time in office having served his maximum term as Chair. A number of other long serving board members also came to the end of their terms, having spent many years tirelessly and passionately representing their colleagues. Following a Board election, which saw more candidates stand than ever before, a new Board was elected, and Karen Kelly was appointed Chair. Providing incredible insight into life as a director, we work together to highlight and confront the issues that matter the most to our membership.

The work that we have been doing this year, which will continue into the years ahead, focuses on collecting every penny that directors are owed. I believe that there are many opportunities for directors on the horizon – opportunities that Directors UK is working tirelessly to maximise on behalf of its members. We are making sure that we make the most of new revenue opportunities, and ensuring that directors are rewarded appropriately for the huge value that their works bring to audiences around the world.

Finally, Directors UK was immeasurably impacted by the unexpected passing of our colleague and friend Marc Abbs in July 2021. Marc was our Senior Digital and Communications Manager and made an incredible contribution to the organisation during the decade he worked with us. He was a vital part of the work that we do and is much missed.

Statement from the Chair

We all know the world around is changing fast, and so many certainties we’ve taken for granted are under threat. As directors we’ve had to find new ways to deal with those changes whilst balancing reality with ambition. Adapting quickly, solving problems and finding creative ways forward is in our DNA. From accommodating challenging restrictions, to creating original ways of telling stories and grasping the demands of new platforms, we’ve had to invent and reinvent. And so has Directors UK.

In summer 2021, I was elected to the Board and appointed Chair. I’m delighted to be supported by the brilliant management team and staff, as well as the Board itself. It’s crucial that the Board reflects the membership’s wealth of expertise and points of view, and I believe our new board does just that. It’s made up of directors working across different genres, from different backgrounds and with varied experiences of the industry.   

As a new board, it’s important we take time to build solid foundations – to plan, anticipate, prepare – so that we can, together, be the voice of the 8,000 directors we represent.  

We’ve been working with the staff team to understand more about what the organisation can do to support to our members where it is needed most.  

We must ensure directors are compensated for the secondary uses of their works, no matter what the platform; that directors are represented as the industry recovers from the pandemic and are supported throughout their careers, to make sure they can progress without hitting glass ceilings. We must also ensure that directors concerns are represented to the industry and to policy makers. We must have a voice at the table.  

‘One of you, many of us’ rings true. When we work together, we can lead the conversation and drive real change. 

I do want to extend my gratitude to Steve Smith, who finished his term as Chair this year. Steve, and his fellow outgoing board members, served with a tremendous dedication and commitment to championing directors.  

Directors UK must now look to the future and, alongside our CEO Andy Harrower and his team, I am looking forward to leading the way.


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