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Directors UK Reaches 25th Anniversary Milestone

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The professional association of UK screen directors, Directors UK, has reached its 25th anniversary.

The organisation celebrated the milestone at it's annual Directors' Festival on Saturday, 01 July.

Having began life as The Directors and Producers Rights Society (DPRS) in 1992, today Directors UK stands as the professional association for all screen directors in the UK, with over 6,500 members, representing their creative and economic interests;campaigning for better pay, working conditions and training; championing diversity across the industry and celebrating the craft of directing at every level.

From its early origins as an offshoot of the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB), in 1992 DPRS became a separate organisation, collecting and distributing royalty payments from Europe for UK directors. In the years that followed the organisation began campaigning for fairer remuneration for directors, spurred on by a 1996 change to UK law which for the first time recognised a film or TV director as an author and owner of copyright in the UK. They successfully lobbied the major UK TV production companies and broadcasters for the payment of royalties for repeat use. In 2001 an agreement for secondary rights payments for TV directors was secured. Since then it's UK distributions have grown from zero to over £13million each year.

The UK rights deal was a huge breakthrough for directors in terms of fair reward and recognition for their work, but the industry was rapidly changing with new ways of working and the explosion of digital channels. In 2006 a group of leading film and television directors met to discuss what directors could do to respond to these changes. Directors needed a single, united body to represent them and looked to DPRS as the foundation for this. Over the next two years the Century Group (named after the place of their first meeting) and DPRS worked together to shape the organisation into the fully representative, campaigning, membership organisation that directors – and the wider industry – needed.

Renamed Directors UK, the organisation launched in June 2008 with Paul Greengrass (Jason Bourne, Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne Supremacy, Captain Phillips, Green Zone) as its President and Charles Sturridge (Shackleton, Lassie, Gulliver's Travels) as Chair. In 2010, Andrew Chowns, former COO of PACT, was appointed as the new Chief Executive of Directors UK and helped usher in the next stage of the organisation's development, with the launch of a brand new membership scheme opening it up to all screen directors and offering a range of services from legal advice to career development schemes, alongside an annual events programme to educate and inspire directors in their craft. Since then Directors UK has hosted Q&As with some of the world's biggest filmmakers: Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Sarah Gavron, Sam Mendes, Steve McQueen, Asif Kapadia, Susanna White, Danny Boyle, George Miller, Stephen Frears, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Damien Chazelle, Barry Jenkins, Richard Linklater and even Steven Spielberg have all graced the Directors UK stage over the last few years.

In the past quarter of a century, Directors UK has evolved and grown to meet the changing demands of the industry. Now more than just a collecting and distributing society, Directors UK is the professional organisation for UK directors, supporting them in their work and lobbying and campaigning for a fairer, more inclusive industry for all. From improving pay and working conditions, championing better copyright protection for directors' work, campaigning for a more diverse workforce and for recognition of the status of directors across the industry, to highlighting the importance of creative rights and fair remuneration. Directors UK works closely with fellow organisations around the world to represent directors' rights and concerns and lobby for protection of copyright worldwide. Last year also saw the launch of the Directors Charitable Foundation (DCF) a charity dedicated to supporting directors in TV, film and theatre, providing support and financial assistance to directors in need.

Steve Smith, Chair of Directors UK: "As a working director it is hard to fully convey the significance of what Directors UK has done for us over the years. From the royalty cheques for freelancers which mean we can afford to continue creating new work – often unpaid or during periods of no work; to the sense of community and support which can so often be lacking as a freelancer. As Chair I hope to continue the great work of the previous years, championing directors and our work, lobbying for a better working environment and conditions, driving campaigns that challenge and encourage change for all, and building a strong and supportive directing community."

Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Chowns, added: "I'm proud of Directors UK and all that it has achieved over the last 25 years on behalf of screen directors. We've grown from 2,000 members to over 6,500. From a single member of staff to 25. And we've expanded what we do to support directors at all stages of their professional careers.

"It's thanks to the dedication and support from the Board and the members that we have been able to achieve all this and it was great to have the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary at our Directors' Festival at the weekend. We will continue to look to the future to ensure that we always evolve with the times so that directors are protected and their work is promoted and treasured in an ever-changing industry."


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