Published on: 20 December 2018 in Events
2018: Review of the Year
Reading time: 23 minutes and 28 seconds
And now, the end is near. But as we face the final curtain of 2018, we take our annual look back at all the videos, podcasts, articles, live-tweets and more that you may have missed. It’s been a busy one folks, so pour yourself a cup of something nice (Lemsip will do), settle down and let us take you through a year in the life of Directors UK.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to remember what happened in January. Frankly, it’s hard to remember what happened last week in a world where two or three establishment-shattering scandals take place every day. Add to that a year of apocalyptic climate news, euphoric sporting events and people happily chomping away on laundry detergent capsules, and there’s just so much happening now that it’s impossible to keep up.
Fortunately, when it comes to Directors UK, January gave us some simpler things to remember. Distribution payments hit bank accounts over the new year, with £9.1 million distributed for secondary use between July 2016 and June 2017. And once Directors UK Chair Steve Smith had delivered his New Year’s message, we were well and truly off (ARTICLE).
In career development news, the Stage and Screen and BBC Continuing Drama New Directors schemes gave our members something to dive into straight away. Plus, there were two great events right off the bat: Brett Morgen joined us to discuss his documentary Jane (LIVE-TWEETS), and members got to Meet the BFI Film Fund (PODCAST, LIVE-TWEETS). There was space for reflection too, as we remembered Paul Annett (ARTICLE), Richard Dyson (ARTICLE) and Peter Duffell (ARTICLE), all directors who had sadly passed away at the end of last year and the beginning of this one. We also saw the start of one of this year’s most epic subplots — the fight for fair digital remuneration in the EU copyright directive — as a collection of major bodies involved in protecting the rights of European creators launched a new survey to understand what working conditions are like for directors in the UK and on the continent.
February brought us several more events: we hosted a packed-out Meet the BBC Drama Commissioners event (LIVE-TWEETS), and we also had a screening of the first ever ARRI Doc Challenge Winners (VIDEOS). Meanwhile, following their earlier survey, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), and Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) launched a petition calling for a modernised copyright framework for directors (ARTICLE).
Our regular pitching and presentation workshop came to Bristol, and our members Becky Wild and Nickie Lister told us all about their mentoring partnership on Coronation Street as part of Directors UK Inspire (ARTICLE). We looked back on the career of the late Lewis Gilbert (ARTICLE). Former Board member Delyth Thomas wrote for us about the scourge of humiliating (and often unnecessary) medicals (ARTICLE). And 2018 was a year of soul-searching for the industry in the wake of the scandals that spawned the #MeToo movement. Our own Campaigns team took steps to see how unacceptable behaviour in the industry can be addressed, hosting an open meeting for members. We were particularly pleased to see the BFI and BAFTA release new anti-bullying and harassment guidance in consultation with a number of industry bodies — including Directors UK (ARTICLE).
What better way to mark that transition from winter to spring than with a shiny new Directors UK promotional video! Featuring plenty of members (and staff) we launched the video above in March. As if to make an early start on footage for our next video, it was full steam ahead with career development opportunities: our pitching and presentation workshop came to London, the Continuing Drama Scheme opened applications for River City, and we held a documentary networking event with Nutopia. Things were no quieter events-wise, as we held a Working With Actors workshop, a Canon Kit Demo evening and the first official screening of #SOUNDTRACKS by member Tristan C. Anderson. Tristan also wrote for us about shooting a feature documentary with a very limited crew (ARTICLE), and member Deborah Paige reported on her time in Margate as part of the Directors Charitable Foundation Directors in Schools scheme (ARTICLE). Meanwhile, Nic Guttridge and Andrew Chowns updated factual members on talks regarding production safety and rates of pay (ARTICLE). There seemed to be change in air this month: with Black Panther becoming the highest grossing superhero film in America ($630.9m), and Frances McDormand introducing the world at large to “inclusion riders” in her Oscar acceptance speech – an idea appraised on our website by Campaign Engagement Manager Natasha Moore (ARTICLE).
In April, Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg testified before US Congress, facing such demanding questions as “how does Facebook make money?” and “is Twitter the same as what you do?”. More rigorous discussion could be found at our Film Open Meeting, hosted by Film Committee Chair Susanna White in April (ARTICLE). And when it comes to fake news, we were having none of it, with CEO Andrew Chowns writing about reforming freelance references in Broadcast magazine (ARTICLE). World Intellectual Property Day comes but once a year, so we celebrated in style — resharing our copyright explainer video (above) and looking ahead to a secure future for your rights (ARTICLE). Rights were on the agenda for the rest of the month as well, as we saw the first Directors UK members (including Al Mackay, Gene Fallaize and Julian Jarrold) adopting our Creative Rights Minimum Terms for film.
A host of fantastic filmmakers duly accepted Challenge ALEXA and April saw the premiere of the resultant triumphant films, as well as a comprehensive interview with all of this year’s directors (ARTICLE). Career development continued over in Cardiff, as card-carrying experts consorted at BAFTA Guru Live, and drama directors met with Nutopia in London for some structured evening networking. Finally, we paused to reflect on the passing of film and television director Cyril Frankel (ARTICLE), and raised a glass to our membership at our Spring Drinks (and yes, you may remember we snuck a little bit of filming in there too).
What will you remember May 2018 for? The Royal Wedding? Cannes? Eurovision? The Champions League final? Kim Kardashian’s White House meeting with Donald Trump? Maybe you’ll recall the £2.7 million pounds of foreign distribution payments we paid out that month – our largest so far. Or perhaps the time we sent all our members an email with “You’re Fired!” in the subject line, as Head of Legal Donna Thomas shared her contract termination tips (tips on how to deal with that situation, not how to make it happen…) (ARTICLE). The fact is, so much happened in May that it’s impossible to keep track.
What we know for certain: Dominic Cooke stopped by for an On Chesil Beach screening and Q&A event (PODCAST, LIVE-TWEETS). We held our first ever Directing Your Behaviour workshop. Our High-end TV Drama Directors Programme launched, giving directors hands-on experience of working in high-end TV production; as did a directing attachment with Apple Tree House. Directors UK responded to Ofcom’s review of their regional TV production and programming guidance (ARTICLE). We launched factual and multi-camera pay surveys, and remembered the work of the late Desmond Saunders, a stalwart of Gerry Anderson’s various ‘Supermarionation’ series (ARTICLE). We saw some big changes at Board level as Wales Representative Philippa Collie Cousins moved on to pastures new (ARTICLE) and was replaced as Board Vice-Chair by Karen Kelly (ARTICLE). Meanwhile, in the wider directing community, political prisoner and filmmaker Oleg Sentsov began a hunger strike (with Directors UK supporting calls for his release) (ARTICLE), and FERA celebrated a new agreement on financing and promoting EU works (ARTICLE) and released a study recommending an unwaivable and inalienable right to remuneration (ARTICLE). And if that last sentence seems like a mouthful, well that’s the sort of month May was: a lot to get your teeth into.
Summer well and truly announced itself for once with a full-blown heatwave that seemed to last until October. This meant we could advertise most of our events as having the added benefit of air-conditioning, and if you opted to stay sweltering at home with your feet propped up in the fridge instead of attending our AGM then frankly we feel sorry for you. On to the AGM, then: we discussed the last year at Directors UK, Board positions, accounts, new articles of association and the future of your rights (REPORT). At the Media Production Show, our two panels let attendees in on the secrets of directing live theatre and on directing during this high-end peak TV boom we’re all in (LIVE-TWEETS). While at Sheffield Doc/Fest, we assessed the industry’s response to #MeToo (VIDEO).
Connect.film was a.blast in the South West, and our PACT matchmaker networking event was another Summer evening well spent. But it wasn’t all mingling, nibbles and libations; we were also hard at work on pay talks with Hollyoaks, and the European Parliament tentatively seemed to be bringing us some good news for directors (ARTICLE). In sadder news, the directing community lost Terry Dyddgen-Jones, who was known for directing over 200 episodes of Coronation Street and for being a major figure in Welsh-language drama. Director Delyth Thomas and our CEO Andrew Chowns shared their memories of Terry (ARTICLE).
Halfway through the year then. We’re probably running out of things to talk about, right?
It’s coming home! The Directors’ Festival 2018, we mean. Why, what else would we have meant? No expectations were raised only to be dashed on the rocks of cold, hard reality at this big event of the summer. Oh no, we had Q&As, masterclasses and panel sessions for all the family (if all your family are members of Directors UK) in the wonderful surroundings of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London.
The day was topped by Sherlock, Doctor Who and Line of Duty director Douglas Mackinnon, who appeared in conversion with fellow director Bill Anderson (PODCAST, LIVE-TWEETS). Some of the brightest lights in music video directing joined us for a discussion of their craft (LIVE-TWEETS). A panel of experts told attendees all about branding themselves when applying for festivals, funding and on social media (LIVE-TWEETS). In the return of the popular Directing Live! session, a producer, a DoP and a casting director joined director J Blakeson to war-game the production of a fictitious musical romcom starring an all-singing, all-dancing Idris Elba (LIVE-TWEETS). A top panel of factual directors discussed the current state of their sector and debated how to take back control (not like that) in the edit (LIVE-TWEETS). And, rather excitingly, the cast of BBC One’s The Split – Meera Syal! Stephen Tompkinson! Elizabeth Roberts! Rudi Dharmalingam! – appeared on stage with the series’ director, Jessica Hobbs to discuss the dos and don’ts of working with actors (PODCAST, LIVE-TWEETS). All this and we also found time to watch England beat Sweden. We won’t say which part of the day got the biggest cheers.
The Festival and the football wasn’t all we had to shout about in July, as this month also saw us launch our big Future Rights campaign. If you’re a Directors UK member then we’re sure you know what we’re talking about, but if you haven’t signed the new Directors Licensing Scheme Collection Agreement yet then please drop what you’re doing, find out more and stand up for your rights as directors (ARTICLE). If you retain just one thing from this article please make it this. August-December will still be here when you get back, and this really is the most important thing we’ve asked our members to do this year.
In other news, our hardworking team doled out £1.6 million in the UK supplementary distribution, which covered work broadcast from July 2015 to June 2016. Following a Directors UK campaign, we were pleased to announce that the Royal Television Society were to introduce a new multi-camera director award at its annual Craft and Design Awards (ARTICLE). This inaugural award went to Strictly Come Dancing’s Nikki Parsons when winners were eventually announced later in 2018 (ARTICLE).
*Copyright news klaxon* It was 1-0 to the big tech giants as European Parliament MEPs voted down the proposed copyright directive changes, despite much lobbying by Directors UK and our European partners (ARTICLE). But this story wasn’t over, not by a long shot, and a rematch would soon be on the cards... Let see, how’s September looking for you?
In August, Directors UK hit a bit of a milestone as we passed 7,000 members for the first time. The lucky 7,000th member won a *checks notes* membership of Directors UK! With access to events, career development schemes and all the lovely things mentioned on this page, we’d have run the risk of spoiling them with anything more. Seriously though, it has never been more important to come together and function as one unified, powerful organisation and we’re only as strong as our members, so our thanks to each and every one of you – yes, even you. One of you, many of us (ARTICLE).
The big story of the month however was the release of our latest report on gender inequality among UK TV directors. Who’s Calling the Shots? was released to much fanfare and press coverage, as we revealed that despite the promise of action, the gender gap had only continued to widen over the last few years – increasing across all four of the main UK broadcasters, with particularly noticeable drops in factual and children’s programming . However, there were some bright spots, particularly in those areas where direct interventions and career development initiatives had taken place in response to our previous reports. We made a number of recommendations, including a call for broadcasters to commit 0.25% of their commissioning spend across all programme making as a levy to fund industry access and career development schemes for underrepresented groups (REPORT).
In more positive industry news, we were very pleased to announce that we’d managed to secure a new pay deal with Lime Pictures, the makers of Hollyoaks (ARTICLE). And as an example of exactly the type of successful intervention we’d highlighted in our gender report, the 4Stories new talent scheme opened for applications (ARTICLE).
Our game of musical Board chairs also continued, with Scotland rep and Board vice-chair Karen Kelly stepping down to take up an exciting position at Channel 4 (ARTICLE). But offering some consolation was our brand new representative for Wales, Morgan Hopkins (ARTICLE).
Releasing two major reports in as many months would be mad, I tell you, mad! But somehow we managed it, as September saw us gear up for another whirlwind of campaign activity with the release of Adjusting the Colour Balance. This report featured some massively disappointing findings on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) directorial representation in UK television. Our research showed that between 2013 and 2016, just 2.22% of UK television programmes were made by BAME directors. That was an increase of just 0.11 percentage points – going from 2.2% in 2013 to 2.31% in 2016 – and, as with gender, no broadcaster made a significant improvement in the period covered by our report. Thankfully, we also found that where proper workplace interventions have been made, the picture has improved, and we made a series of recommendations to help formalise these kinds of schemes. We also called on broadcasters to set targets to ensure their workforce mirrors the UK population by 2020 (REPORT).
Our Bullying and Harassment campaign was also extremely busy this month, with the publication of our dedicated handbook for film and TV directors — including practical advice on what to do if you’re being bullied, of if you’ve been accused of bullying others (ARTICLE). Outside of campaigns, another round of Directors UK Inspire was announced with members Ruth Carney and Rebecca Gatward describing their mentoring partnership on the set of Cold Feet (ARTICLE). We talked harlots, innocents, indies and Alexander McQueen at Creative Partnerships Day (LIVE-TWEETS), and riffed on a hypothetical shoot with Collaborating Live. Anna Thomson was welcomed into her new role as Directors UK Board Vice-Chair (ARTICLE). And we remembered the life and works of respected animation director Roger Mainwood (ARTICLE). Finally, following an intense period of campaigning and plenty of misinformation (remind you of anything?), one of the year’s longest-running subplots came to a head as MEPs again voted on the draft Copyright Directive – and this time they voted in favour! The directive, which provides a fairer deal for creators for the digital use of their works, is still making its way through the legislative process and we’ll keep you updated on its progress in 2019 (ARTICLE).
The nights begin to close in, the cold begins to bite...but wait, what’s that? It’s the sound of the Directors UK winter screening schedule kicking in to gear. This October we were treated to a very special screening of BlacKkKlansman, with the legendary Spike Lee appearing in conversation with Asif Kapadia. That wasn’t all though, as we also had a fantastic Life Story Rights session at London Film Festival, as well as a special screening of Lotus Hannon’s short film Unseen. It was a month of launches: Challenge ALEXA opened for applications, as did the first ever Challenge TRINITY, which tasks members to create a one shot movie in one day; and the DCF enjoyed a star-studded lift-off at the House of Lords (ARTICLE).
Then there was the little matter of a £2.3 million foreign distribution helping to thaw out those winter blues. No biggie. But, as ever, there was also this thing you may have heard of called Brexit, which was on hand to sow doubt and uncertainty all over the place. With no-one (not even the government) seeming to know what was happening from one minute to the next, we made a valiant attempt to assess what Brexit might mean for directors — and while some of the finer details may have changed in the action-packed months that have followed, our key areas of concern remain (ARTICLE). Still, if all that makes you despair, you can at least think back to that time when our Chair Steve Smith became a darling of the K-pop scene when his tweet about BTS went viral. Naturally, we shamelessly attempted to piggyback upon his new-found fame (TWEET).
A nice, warm cinema. Good company. A glass of wine maybe. And a fantastic film with an interesting director Q&A afterwards. A rare treat you might think, but this year we got to enjoy it seven times in thirty days (that’s one event every 4.3 days!) as our screening season came on thick and fast. And what screenings they were: Tamara Jenkins spoke to us about Private Life (PODCAST, LIVE-TWEETS), David Yates about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (LIVE-TWEETS), Jonathan Hacker about Path of Blood, Paul Greengrass about 22 July (LIVE-TWEETS), Damien Chazelle about First Man (LIVE-TWEETS), Paweł Pawlikowski about Cold War (LIVE-TWEETS) and Paul Schrader about First Reformed (LIVE-TWEETS). We live-tweeted until our thumbs were no more for those who couldn’t make it, and look out for podcasts from many of these fascinating Q&As in the new year.
The events didn’t stop there either: we mingled at our open meeting in Cardiff, and William Peschek stopped by the office to talk about the JETS initiative. Elsewhere, Strategic Support sessions with Cynthia de Souza took place, and Deborah Paige returned with more success from the DCF Directors in Schools Programme (ARTICLE). Brexit was back on the agenda (when wasn’t it, honestly?) as we went to parliament to talk to lawmakers about what it will mean for directors (ARTICLE), and we also lent our signature to a letter to the Prime Minister calling for representation tax relief (ARTICLE). Finally, we lost visionary filmmaker Nicolas Roeg this month. Nic’s loss was felt keenly throughout the industry and across our membership. Directors Piers Haggard (ARTICLE) and Simon Rumley (ARTICLE) both wrote in tribute to the man they knew and worked with.
December at last, and while the year was drawing to a close the news just kept on coming. We were proud to announce the first ever winners of Challenge TRINITY (ARTICLE), and launched another round of Directors UK Inspire (ARTICLE) and the Continuing Drama New Directors’ Scheme, this time for Doctors (ARTICLE) – both of which are still open for applications. Furthermore, we held our now-traditional Scotland Christmas drinks, and the raft of screenings kept on coming (an average of one every 2.8 days this time!). Vice came first, followed by an Adam McKay Q&A. Bradley Cooper talked to us about accomplishing the rare actor-director-writer-producer-songwriter combo on A Star is Born. Mary Queen of Scots was followed by a Q&A with Josie Rourke (LIVE-TWEETS). Lynne Ramsay spoke to us after a special screening of You Were Never Really Here (LIVE-TWEETS). Steve MᶜQueen told us all about the making of Widows (LIVE-TWEETS). And the season hit new heights as mountain-climber Alex Honnold joined directors Elizabeth Chai Vaserhelyi and Jimmy Chin to discuss Free Solo. Finally, before we all went away on our jolly holidays, we made sure it was a Mary Christmas (*groan* all complaints to [email protected], please) with a special preview screening of Mary Poppins Returns and Q&A with director Rob Marshall (LIVE-TWEETS). Magic.
And that’s a wrap on 2018!
But there’s already so much to look forward to in the new year. Directors UK Inspire and the Continuing Drama New Directors Scheme are already open for applications, with deadlines coming up in January. Meanwhile, we’ll be taking our Directing Your Behaviour workshop to Leeds, hosting a members’ open meeting in Scotland, and a special Challenge TRINITY screening for the first time. We’ll continue to bring you the latest on the fight for the EU copyright directive. And of course we’ll be continuing our Future Rights campaign and encouraging our members to sign the Directors Licensing Scheme Collection Agreement.
Keep an eye out for news on all of the above, and so much more, in 2019.