Published on: 30 November 2023 in Industry

Directors UK Advent Calendar 2023

Reading time: 32 minutes and 15 seconds

Seasons Greetings from Directors UK!

We have had another busy year, so we are opening the doors on the Directors UK Advent Calendar once again.

Every day throughout December we will be sharing some fantastic director-focused moments from a jam-packed 2023, to celebrate the craft of directing across a range of genres and formats and to revisit some things you may have missed.

You can catch up on the full Advent Calendar below! You can also check out our Advent Calendar on our Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages.


24 December

It’s the final day of the advent calendar and we have a very special gift underneath the Directors UK Christmas treea brand new episode of the Directors UK podcast, recorded at our final In Conversation event of 2023. 

Last week, we were joined by award-winning director Andrew Haigh to explore the making of All of Us Strangers, a beautifully poignant film about love and loss. Andrew sat down with the National Film and Television School’s Sandra Hebron to discuss capturing vulnerable performances from his cast, including Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal, creating a calming environment on set and his techniques and practices as a director. 

We're thrilled to finish off the year with this brilliant celebration of British filmmaking and the craft of directingwe hope you enjoy the episode! 

23 December

It’s penultimate day of the advent calendar and we’re heading back to August, where we spoke to director Saul Dibb about directing BBC One crime drama The Sixth Commandment. 

The Sixth Commandment explores how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar, and a charismatic student, Ben Field, led to one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory.  

We spoke to Saul about the challenges and nuances of representing real people on screen, casting actors (both well-known and emerging talents) and why he thought audiences connected so strongly with the series’ central themes of love and loneliness. 

22 December

For day 22, we’re throwing back to our interview with Jesse Quinones about working as lead director on the BBC’s continuing TV drama Waterloo Road. 

Jesse spoke about moving from indie film to TV drama, the wide range of influences he brought to his pitch for the show and creating an epic riot sequence to open the show. 

21 December

For today’s Advent Calendar, we have a treat for anyone who missed our In Conversation with Zach Braff in October as we are sharing the podcast episode recorded at the event. 

Zach sat down with BFI Programmer Rowan Woods via Zoom to discuss the making of his most recent film A Good Person, and he shared some brilliant insights into his approach to his craft as a director.  

From his visual language as a director and creating the tone for his films with Heads of Department in pre-production to his passion for cinematography, Zach truly took us behind the scenes! 

You can listen to this episode of the Directors UK Podcast on SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you get your podcasts!

20 December

For today’s Advent Calendar entry, we’re revisiting our recent interview with Myriam Raja, who spoke to us about directing the first four episodes of the final season of Top Boy

Myriam discussed working collaboratively with the crew on Top Boy, her approach to working with actors and making sure younger cast members felt comfortable on set, shooting challenging scenes and maintaining agency as a director. 

Read our interview with Myriam Raja on Top Boy

(Image via Netflix)

19 December

This summer, Directors UK was at the House of Lords to celebrate the winners of the annual Film the House Awards and we were thrilled to once again present the Directors UK Award for Best Film Direction.  

Our Board members Abigail Dankwa and Zoe Hines presented Stephen Gallacher with the Director UK Award for Best Film Direction for his film Harold and Mary, and director Hector Bell was highly commended for the direction of his film First Timers

Run in collaboration with MPs and industry professionals, Film the House is a way of celebrating UK filmmaking talent as well as highlighting the importance of intellectual property rights and copyright to both creators and MPs.

Learn more about the evening here.

(Image: Nikki Powell)

18 December

Today, we’re revisiting Katie Bignell’s top tips for navigating the film festival circuit. 

Katie is the brains behind consultancy brand Festival Formula, which helps filmmakers develop their strategy for the extensive and competitive film festival circuit. This summer, our Career Development team hosted an insightful webinar with Katie which explored how to make the most of your film – from familiarising yourself with the different kinds of festival and how their programmes vary, to dealing with rejection. 

Check out Katie’s top tips and use some of your festive downtime to prep for your next film festival submission!

(Image: Christopher Andreou)

17 December

In September, our CEO Andy Harrower represented directors at the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Select Committee hearing on creator renumeration. 

Andy gave evidence alongside other organisations who collect and manage royalties on behalf of creators (including writers, actors and performers, and visual artists) and was able to reflect the realities of working in the creative industries today.  

Led by CMS Committee Chair Dame Caroline Dinenage, it was a wide-ranging session which examined the importance of fair pay for freelance creators, and how to bring about significant, impactful change to how creators are renumerated.  

Find out more about how we represented directors at the CMS Select Committee hearing.

16 December

Today, the Advent Calendar revisits our In Conversation with Charlotte Regan, who sat down with Observer film critic Wendy Ide to discuss her first feature film Scrapper

In a brilliant lively conversation, Charlotte explored her approach to her craft whilst directing Scrapper, the joy of working with young people who hadn’t worked in film before, collaborating with friend and cinematographer Molly Manning Walker and much more.  

Tune in to the Directors UK podcast to hear Charlotte Regan In Conversation or search ‘Directors UK’ wherever you get your podcasts.

(Image: Christopher Andreou) 

15 December

For Day 15 of the Directors UK calendar, we’re going back to the 1980s as we revisit our interview with Jamie Donoughue, lead director on Sky Max’s Costa del Sol-set series A Town Called Malice

Jamie chatted to us about the challenges of casting an ensemble of actors to build a convincing fictional family, how he created striking visuals to evoke the series’ period setting and the central role that music played in the series. 

Read our conversation with Jamie Donoughue and be transported to the Costa del Sol of the 1980s.

14 December

Earlier this year, Directors UK and the Writers Guild of Great Britain asked the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) to produce a report on the diversity of directors and writers working in TV production. 

The report evidenced what we already know — that women, people of colour and those with disabilities are significantly under-represented in senior television production creative and editorial roles compared to their proportion of the population.  

Read our full response and find out more about what we’re doing within our power to make change to the system.

13 December

Check on! In Autumn we spoke to Philip Barantini about directing the first two episodes of BBC One and iPlayer series Boiling Point

Philip spoke about picking up where the feature film left off, evolving returning characters’ storylines as well as weaving new faces into the narrative, and how he went about creating the frenetic energy of a professional kitchen on screen. 

Read our interview with Philip Barantini here.

(Image credit: James Stack)

12 December

In November, Pulitzer Prize-winning Ukrainian video journalist Mstyslav Chernov was In Conversation with Academy Award-nominated documentary director Waad Al-Kateab to talk about the making of his feature documentary 20 Days in Mariupol

Together they discussed the role directors play in telling the stories of our time, how Mstyslav shaped a narrative from the events of the war in Ukraine, the edit process and the importance of sound design in documentary making.  

Read a full transcript of Mstyslav Chernov and Waad Al-Kateab’s conversation.

(Image: Christopher Andreou)

11 December

Today, we celebrate our Directors UK Inspire programme! 

A year-round mentoring programme for Full and Associate members of Directors UK, Inspire’s purpose is to support and encourage directors from across all genres to pursue and manage structured support from a more experienced director.  

We love learning more about the directors who take part in Inspire and what excites them as filmmakers, and this year we have had put together a fantastic range of Case Studies featuring current and previous participants. We spoke to Jessica Bishopp about Puffling, a beautiful short film set in the Icelandic Island community, chatted with Rebecca Coley about her documentary feature Point of Change, and heard from Tom Gentle about what he learned from shadowing director John Strickland on The Rig.  

Thinking about applying for the next cycle of the Inspire programme? Director Neil Ben put together his tips for making the most of working with a mentor, drawing on his experience of connecting with comedy director Ed Bye for the programme. 

(Image: BTS on Puffling; Jessica Bishopp)

10 December

In September, we sat down with award-winning Welsh director Euros Lyn to find out more about his extensive career as a director, including his work on LGBTQ+ coming-of-age story Heartstopper. 

Euros has an impressive and varied credit list stretching from Sherlock to Casualty and from Black Mirror to Broadchurch, and it was brilliant to speak to him about what he has learned as a director, creating an inclusive workplace for cast and crew on Heartstopper and the challenges of returning to beloved characters for the show’s second season. 

9 December

In October, Emmy-nominated director Peter Hoar joined us for a brilliant members’ masterclass to discuss his critically acclaimed episode of HBO’s The Last of Us. 

Chatting to his Directors UK Inspire mentee and our member Stephen Gallacher, Peter took a deep dive into the making of Episode 3, Long, Long Time’, breaking down key scenes to explore his approach to his craft. They also discussed the importance of working collaboratively, tackling imposter syndrome and understanding your responsibility as a director. 

Listen back to their conversation on the Directors UK Podcast – available on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts and all good pod platforms!

8 December

Dec 8 - image
Dec 8 - image

It’s day 8 of the Advent Calendar and we’re looking ahead to 2024 becoming a self-shooting PD is back! 

In partnership with DV Talent and Screen Skills, the course will be delivered in locations throughout the UK. There is an opportunity to get to grips with all aspects of the self-shooting PD’s role in Cardiff, London, Belfast, Manchester/Newcastle, Glasgow and Birmingham, with additional online sessions and masterclasses for everything an aspiring self-shooting PD needs. 

The first self-shooting PD face-to-face training takes place in Cardiff — find out more and apply by Friday 15 December.

7 December

As part of our In Conversation season of member events, James Hawes was joined by fellow director Jessica Hobbs to discuss James’ theatrical feature debut One Life. 

James and Jessica had a deep dive into how James approached the challenges and complexities of representing real people on screen, filming on location in Prague and establishing an authentic period tone for the film.

You can listen on all good podcast platforms or listen to their conversation here.

6 December

Day 6 is all about our 2023 distributions. Every year we collect and distribute payments to our members for secondary uses of their work, across UK broadcasters and in Europe.

This year, our dedicated team processed over 734,000 individual distributions to a whopping 5,500 directors – that’s a lot of data, a lot of bank accounts and even more Excel spreadsheets! 

You can find out more about our distribution here.

5 December

Back in October, our Career Development and Skills team welcomed founder of Bridge 06 Sara Johnson and her colleague and partner Julie Fernandez plus director and our member Neil Ben for a fascinating workshop about working with an Access Coordinator. 

Drawing on their extensive industry experience, Julie, Sara and Neil explored the working relationship between cast, crew and Access Coordinator and the positive impact this role can have on set and in the workplace when a director brings an Access Coordinator on board. 

Read Sara and Julie’s top tips for working with an Access Coordinator.

4 December

In August, we chatted to director Joelle Mae David about working on this summer’s hit BBC comedy series Dreaming While Black, which follows aspiring filmmaker Kwabena as he tries to swap his dead-end job for his movie mogul dreams. 

Joelle shared a fantastic insight into what appealed to her about telling Kwabena’s story, how she established the tone and feel of her episodes with DoP Nathalie Pitters and gave her advice for any directors looking to make the move from shorts to TV projects.

Read our interview with Joelle Mae David.

(Image credit: BTS, Dreaming Whilst Black)

3 December

We were thrilled to have the chance to talk to Molly Manning Walker about the making of her debut feature film How to Have Sex as part of our In Conversation season in Autumn.

Molly chatted with fellow director Michael Pearce about shifting from cinematography to directing, how she approaches working with actors and the extensive work she did with the cast in preparation for shooting, and the challenges of directing hundreds of extras for the film’s clubbing scenes. 

Hear Molly Manning Walker and Micheal Pearce In Conversation.

(Image: Christopher Andreou)

2 December

Hi Barbie! 

In October, Barbie director and Academy Award-nominee Greta Gerwig joined us In Conversation with fellow director, Academy Award-winner Alfonso Cuarón to kick off our member event season in style.

Greta and Alfonso explored her approach to her craft, her influences and her very specific technicolour vision for Barbie Land. You can listen to these two filmmaking giants In Conversation on the Directors UK podcast or just search ‘Directors UK’ wherever you get your podcasts.

(Image: Christopher Andreou)

1 December

This summer we spoke to Nikki Parsons, Ollie Bartlett and Richard Valentine, the three directors responsible for bringing the Eurovision Song Contest to our screens! 

A fantastic feat in multi-cam directing, our roundtable with Nikki, Ollie and Richard shares insight into creating a unique look and feel for each country’s performance and bringing the atmosphere of the arena into people’s homes for TV audiences. Read the full interview on our website!

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