Press Release

FOUR MORE DIRECTORS GAIN CAREER DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES ON HIGH PROFILE BRITISH DRAMAS

18 September 2017

Directors UK and Creative Skillset’s High-End TV Council are delighted to announce a further four directors who have been selected to take part in the 2017 High-End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme.

Launched earlier this year, the High-End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme aims to give directors a broader understanding and experience of working in High-End drama, and how they differ from lower-budget and continuing drama productions.

Directors Afia Nkrumah, Nimer Rashed, Kate Saxon and Nicole Volavka have been selected as placement directors on three of the UK’s most popular high-quality drama productions: Carnival Films’ Jamestown, BBC Studios’ Silent Witness and Lookout Point/BBC Studios’ Press.

London Film School graduate, Afia Nkrumah, is working on Carnival Films’ Jamestown, alongside director Andy Hay (Spooks, Dickensian and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man).

Nimer Rashed, an award-winning director, is working on Lookout Point/BBC Studios’ new production Press with director Tom Vaughan (Doctor Foster, Victoria, and The Royals).

Kate Saxon, a director with over 20 years’ experience working across film, television, theatre, games and VR, is working with BBC Studios’ Silent Witness with director Colin Teague (Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Jekyll & Hyde and Hustle).

Drama director, Nicole Volavka, with over 10 years’ experience working across TV, film and commercials in the UK, Czech Republic, Croatia and Rwanda, is working on BBC Studios’ Silent Witness, with Diarmuid Goggins (Casualty, Hollyoaks and Six Degrees).

The High-End TV Drama Directors Career Development Programme follows on from the 2015 pilot scheme and aims to give directors a broader understanding of working in High-End drama from prep through to post. Earlier this year, as part of the scheme, Tina Gharavi and Samantha Harrie were selected to work on two of the UK’s most popular high end drama productions, Kudos’ The Tunnel: Vengeance and Neal Street Productions’ Call The Midwife.

Laura Adams, Head of Member Services at Directors UK, said: “All four candidates selected for the scheme have shown incredible skill and potential, and will be joining Samantha and Tina as fresh and experienced talent within the industry. With this training we will help diversify the industry’s current landscape and encourage aspiring talent and skills”.

Kaye Elliott, Programme Lead of High-End Television at Creative Skillset, said: “The High-End TV Drama Levy is delighted to continue its support of this initiative led by Directors UK, who have an outstanding reputation in supporting new, emerging and established directors.  We anticipate many positive outcomes from this exciting and high profile initiative which demonstrates our commitment to developing the skills and supporting the progress of High-End TV drama talent in the industry.”

Richard Fell, Executive Producer for Carnival Films, said: “It is fantastic to be in a position to provide a platform for emerging talent to gain senior experience on large-scale, high-quality scripted series such as Jamestown. We always enjoy working with new directors like Afia Nkrumah who are hugely ambitious and keen to fulfil their creative potential.”

Richard Stokes, Executive Producer for Silent Witness, at BBC Studios, said: “We are delighted to have been able to place two candidates from the High-End drama scheme on to Silent Witness. The calibre of people applying was so high and we look forward to seeing both Nicole and Kate gain as much experience from our directors as possible. Nicole has already got stuck in and shot some beautiful second unit material for us and I’m sure Kate will approach her placement with equal enthusiasm.”

Paul Gilbert, Producer of Press, at Lookout Point, said: "We're thrilled to welcome Nimer onto the team for Press. Nimer's already a gifted director and we're really looking forward to offering him the practical experience and guidance he might need to advance his career to the next level."

Directors chosen as part of the programme will gain an insight into all areas of High-End TV drama including pre-production, shooting, and post-production; ultimately giving them the skill set needed to be able to direct an episode in the future. The directors will also have access to post-placement support from Directors UK, as well as networking and advice from the production company and the lead director. 

As part of the scheme, there is also a commitment to give the placement director the opportunity to direct 2nd unit where appropriate, and therefore gain an on-screen credit to showcase their experience and help advance their careers within High-End TV drama. 

In light of our ongoing campaigns highlighting the gender and diversity disparity within UK television, Directors UK continues to work closely with broadcasters and commissioners to help increase visibility and access to work opportunities, for fairer employment and career progression for under-represented groups. 

    • Directors UK is the professional association of UK screen directors. It is a membership organisation representing the creative, economic and contractual interests of over 6,400 members - the majority of working TV and film directors in the UK. Directors UK collects and distributes royalty payments and provides a range of services to members including campaigning, commercial negotiations, legal advice, events, training and career development. Directors UK works closely with fellow organisations around the world to represent directors’ rights and concerns, promotes excellence in the craft of direction and champions change to the current landscape to create an equal opportunity industry for all. 

    • Creative Skillset works with the UK’s screen-based creative industries to develop skills and talent, from classroom to boardroom. We support high quality professional development across TV, film and related sectors – identifying skills needs, targeting skills investment, developing key skills and growing diverse talent networks. Through our industry partnerships Creative Skillset helps to improve productivity, creativity and employability across the UK’s screen-based creative media industries. 

    •       Further information can be found at www.directors.uk.com     
     
    •       Directors UK have several career development programmes available throughout the year, within a range of genres, exclusively for Directors UK members. To become a member of Directors UK for access to training, benefits and discounts, please visit www.directors.uk.com/join or contact us directly at membership@directors.uk.com   
     
    •       Directors UK Social Media handle: @Directors_UK         



    ABOUT THE DIRECTORS:

    Afia Nkrumah
    Afia Nkrumah graduated from The London Film School, and has since written and directed several short films that have screened at national and international film festivals. Afia has also directed for the theatre in the UK and abroad, including: The Young Vic theatre, The Norwegian National theatre, Nuffield Theatre Southampton and The Royal National Theatre (RNT), and received The Jerwood Young Young Director's award for her production of Generations Of The Dead by Michael Henry Brown. Her last film Shadow Man, supported by Film London, was nominated for The London Calling Plus Award. Afia was also named writer/director to watch on the BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017, and selected for BBC Directors Room Scheme in 2016, to direct continuing drama series Eastenders.


    Nimer Rashed
    Nimer Rashed is an award-winning director; His first short film Baghdad Express for the Film London, featuring Riz Ahmed, played at festivals across the world. His other shorts include The Marionette’s Dream (shortlisted for the Sundance London Short Film Competition), the award-winning Derek: The Last Flamingo, and his latest short film Touch, which won the Grand Prize at the Virgin Media Shorts awards (jurors included Shane Meadows, David Tennant, and film critic James King). Awards for writing include the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award at the International Emmy Awards, and Soho Theatre's Westminster Prize. He has written for TV (BBC's The Dumping Dround) and stage (Wild Horses), and is currently working on a play commission for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2016, Nimer won a coveted place on the BBC Directors Room Directors Scheme, and he has gone on to direct several blocks of Doctors. He has also been named on the BBC’s New Talent Hotlist. He is currently in post-production on a new BFI short film London Tomorrow and working for BBC Drama as a director for Doctors.

    Kate Saxon
    Kate Saxon is a director working across film, television, theatre, games and VR. In 2013, she received BBC training to direct multi-camera and has since then directed many episodes of Eastenders, a one-off special for BBC Red Button and a few episodes of Doctors. In film, Kate was Voice Director on Paramount’s Animated feature, Capture The Flag, which won the Goya Award for Best Animated Film 2016. Kate has directed over 35 theatre productions, including the 2015 national UK tour of The History Boys, and is also a leading Performance and Cinematic Director for video games: her most recently released game is the twice BAFTA-nominated Mafia III, other recent titles include 2016 BAFTA winner Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and 2015 BAFTA winner Alien: Isolation. Kate has been working in motion capture for over ten years and has worked with a few renowned actors in games including notably Michael Fassbender, Simon Pegg, and Naomie Harris.  Kate recently directed a virtual reality video game for Sony and is currently in development on their next one.

    Nicole Volavka
    Nicole Volavka is a drama director working across TV, film and commercials in the UK, Czech Republic, Croatia and Rwanda. With over 10 years’ experience in the industry, Nicole starting as an intern on Love Actually and went on to assisting directors such as Michael Caton-Jones and Stephen Poliakoff, and working with actors such as Tom Burke, Anna Madeley, David Ajala, Paul Ready and Clare-Hope Ashitey. Nicole graduated from The London Film School in 2010 with her own award-winning shorts. Her commercials have been twice nominated for the Cannes Lions Young Director Award. Nicole has also directed Doctors for BBC1 and was 2nd Unit Director on The Tunnel for Sky Atlantic. Most recently, a pilot for her feature Seekers was funded by the BFI and she is developing further feature ideas under her company Bohemian Films.  

    ABOUT THE PRODUCTION COMPANIES:

    Carnival Films
    Carnival Films is a division of NBCUniversal International Studios and one of the UK’s leading drama specialists. The company is responsible for the global television phenomenon Downton Abbey and current primetime series such as The Last Kingdom for the BBC co-produced with Netflix, and Sky 1’s Jamestown and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man. Other shows produced over Carnival’s history include Poirot, Hotel Babylon, Whitechapel and Dracula as well as award-winning mini-series such as Traffik, Any Human Heart, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies and The Hollow Crown anthology. Carnival has received a host of national and international awards including Primetime Emmys, Golden Globes and BAFTAs and has been recognized as the UK’s best production company at both the Bulldog Awards and Broadcast Awards. 

    • BBC Studios 
    BBC Studios is the BBC’s main TV production arm, producing bold, British, creative content across a range of genres and specialisms. From Planet Earth II, Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who to Horizon, EastEnders, Three Girls and Murdered by My Father, its programmes are renowned for their quality and loved by audiences in the UK and around the world. With bases all over the country, BBC Studios reflects and represents diverse voices and creative talent from across the UK. BBC Studios launched as a commercial business in April 2017, able to make programmes for other broadcasters as well as the BBC, supporting the BBC’s public service mission and generating financial returns for licence fee payers.

    • Lookout Point
    Lookout Point is an independent drama production company that works with the UK’s leading writing, directing and on-screen talent to produce bold and innovative television drama.  The company was established in 2009 by Simon Vaughan and has a proven reputation as a market leader in global drama co-production.  Faith Penhale, formerly Head of Drama at BBC Wales, joined in 2016 as joint CEO alongside Simon.   Lookout Point is currently producing four major upcoming productions.  Mike Bartlett’s bold and provocative newspaper drama, Press, with BBC Studios and Deep Indigo for BBC One and Masterpiece on PBS; Sally Wainwright’s period drama, Gentleman Jack (formerly known as Shibden Hall), about the quest by a lesbian landowner to find a wife in 19th century Yorkshire, co-produced with HBO for BBC One; Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Misérables, with BBC Studios and The Weinstein Company for BBC One; and Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, for BBC One. Lookout Point's recent credits include Sally Wainwright’s landmark single film about the lives of the Brontë sisters, To Walk Invisible, for BBC One; Andrew Davies' critically acclaimed adaptation of War and Peace for BBC One; Ripper Street, now in its fifth and final series, for the BBC and Amazon; and The Collection, Oliver Goldstick’s sumptuous drama set in a post-war Paris fashion house, for Amazon and France Télévisions.

Author

Tolu Akisanya

Communications and Campaigns Officer

takisanya@directors.uk.com

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