One of you, many of us.
The Board

Directors UK is a governed by an elected Board of Directors drawn from its membership. The current Board is comprised of the following directors:

  • Steve Smith – Chair
  • Bill Anderson – Vice-Chair, TV Fiction Chair, Co-Chair of the Nominations Committee
  • Anna Thomson – Vice-Chair, Co-Chair of the Access and Inclusion Committee
  • Susanna White – Vice-Chair, Chair of the Film Committee
  • Ed Bye – Entertainment and Multi-Camera Chair
  • Jan Genesis - Chair of the Directors of Colour Committee
  • Nic Guttridge – TV Factual Chair, Chair of the Pay and Working Conditions Committee
  • Lotus Hannon – Associate Members’ Representative, Co-Chair of the Access and Inclusion Committee
  • Jessica Hobbs – Co-Chair of the Nominations Committee
  • Morgan Hopkins – Nations and Regions Representative for Wales, Chair of the Nations and Regions Committee
  • Christine Lalla
  • Lisi Russell – Successor Representative
  • Dan Zeff – Chair of the Distribution Committee

Also serving on the Board are:

  • Andy Harrower – Directors UK CEO
  • Guy Gibbons – Directors UK Finance Director
  • Deborah Stones

Steve Smith - Chair

Steve Smith

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

It’s hard to single out one project. I’m very proud of the first television programme I ever made at the age of 18 with a group of friends for the BBC Community Programmes Unit. It was part of the “Something Else” youth strand and was a documentary looking at divorce from the point of view of the kids involved. It was groundbreaking at the time back in 1979. I’m also proud of The Graham Norton Show - and for being able to deliver consistently strong, funny and entertaining shows after 17 series and still winning BAFTA awards for doing so.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

At the age of 18 by my first boss - a wonderful film editor called Kitty Wood who was in her late 50s when I became her assistant. “Always be nice to people on the way up in your career as you will meet them on the way down”. It’s not hard - be nice to the production runner - one-day they will be your boss or channel a controller (Hi Stuart Murphy at Sky).

What’s your favourite film?

The Sheltering Sky directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.

What’s your favourite TV show?

In 2014 it was The Honourable Woman directed and written by Hugo Blick.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me!”, by the wonderful Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in Carry On Cleo.

“Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love” - Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

To ensure we have strong creative rights agreements in place with all producers and broadcasters to safeguard the directors rights and responsibilities.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

Directors face being excluded from so many of the key creative decisions - this marginalisation makes it harder for directors to make a full-time living in the industry. For me it’s about safeguarding rights, fighting for fair pay and ensuring a directors creative rights are protected and respected.

Which director do you most admire and why?

From the world of film - Bernardo Bertolucci. The TV director (and producer) I admired was Michael Hurll, responsible for so many great entertainment programmes from Top of the Pops to The Two Ronnies. As a young director I aspired to direct many of the shows Michael produced and directed. I worked with him briefly in 2000 when he executive produced a Cilla Black series I directed. He knew so much about the world of comedy and entertainment and was so generous with his time and advice. He was responsible for some of the nations favourite Saturday night shows. 

Bill Anderson - Vice-Chair and Chair of the TV Fiction Committee

Bill Anderson

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Sword of Honour.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“When reading a script, disregard all the adjectives and adverbs. Nouns and verbs are what matter – they deliver photographable action” - Paul Dickson.

What’s your favourite film?

The Red Shoes.

What’s your favourite TV show?

The Larry Sanders Show.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“That was just talk – we’d lose the audience” - Studio Exec Monroe Stahr (Robert De Niro) to writer George Boxley (Donald Pleasance) on his dialogue heavy rewrites in The Last Tycoon (1976), Dir. Elia Kazan.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Late scripts.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

Systemic exclusion from the Producer/Writer/Director core creative team.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Michael Powell and Alejandro González Iñárritu. They both combine a voracious zest for life with compassion.

Anna Thomson - Vice-Chair

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Yoghurt Utopia is a Sundance Institute grantee feature documentary, about a maverick Spanish psychiatrist and his patients who broke out of the asylum and into big business. 

Watch a trailer for the film. 

Over the years I’ve learnt how to manage the challenges that each project inevitably brings, but none have been greater than Yoghurt Utopia

We were granted early development funding from the Sundance Institute- the first steps on the long and windy road of making a feature documentary.

But I knew that to give the story a chance I had to spend an unprecedented amount of time with the workers and foster close relationships with them. In between paid work, over a two year period, I filmed most of the documentary with my partner and co-director using our own resources. 

Then with great trepidation we threw ourselves into a crowd funding campaign to finance the edit. We raised £25,000 overshooting our original target by £11,000 and generated many articles including a 6 page article in The Observer Magazine. 

This is a very personal story as I am half Spanish and spent most of my summers in the village where this pioneering business is based. I hope that Yoghurt Utopia will reach a global audience and show case the possibilities of therapeutic organizations and inspire change in attitudes towards mental health provision.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Be curious, tenacious and humble.

What’s your favourite film?

I have so many I don’t know where to start….

When I was a child I loved Cinema Paradiso.

As a teenager I was really into Antonioni and Fellini

Last year I enjoyed Toni Erdmann.

I always love a good Almodovar or Lynch.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Breaking Bad.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Higher budgets and more creative autonomy.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

The fragmentation of the director’s role in factual and the lack of diversity.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Ingmar Bergman for his genius and productivity.

Susanna White - Vice-Chair and Chair of the Film Committee

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Generation Kill - the HBO series written by David Simon.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Never let the audience see any acting”, from Tony Garnet.

What’s your favourite film?

Some Like it Hot.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with Alec Guinness.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“If you can't explain it simply you don't understand it well enough” - Einstein.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

A proper share in profit on successful work.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

The current situation with the BBC.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Ang Lee - for his range and humanity.

Ed Bye - Chair of the Entertainment and Multi-Camera Committee

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Kevin and Perry Go Large.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Surround yourself with talent - not just in front of the camera but behind it as well.

What’s your favourite film?

It keeps changing, currently it’s Dunkirk.

What’s your favourite TV show?

The Walking Dead.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“After briefly dipping his toe into the sea of reason, the man with no brain takes a fresh frolic on insanity beach”

(Ben EltonFilthy, Rich and Catflap).

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Ensure they have creative control to realise their vision.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

Pay, budgets and recognition (sorry, that’s 3 things but they sort of feed into each other).

Which director do you most admire and why?

It's difficult single out a overall winner because it depends on the film/programme, Norman Jewison for The Heat of the Night, George Romero for Dawn of the DeadEdgar Wright for Shaun of the DeadJames Cameron for Terminator 2 and Aliens, Bob Spiers for Fawlty TowersPaul Jackson and Geoff Posner for The Young Ones, Ridley Scott for Alien and Blade Runner, Joss Whedon for The Avengers, Paul Greengrass for Jason BourneChristopher Nolan for Dunkirk. The list goes on...

Jan Genesis - Chair of the Directors of Colour Committee

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Mo’s Town, an all-singing, all-dancing entertainment pilot show hosted by comedian Mo Gilligan which I directed in 2018. The premise was based on Mo having his own party town involving comedy, live music, celebrity guests and a live audience. It was a really ambitious concept with a small budget but one that I really connected with and had the freedom to drive creatively. The pilot led to Mo having his first show which was commissioned by Channel 4. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you’re offered an opportunity, say yes…and then figure out how to do it!

What’s your favourite film?

Coach Carter.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I can’t whittle it down to one show! I have enjoyed some of the UK-based dramas which bring an alternative perspective to what we are used to seeing on our screens: Top Boy, Bullet Proof and Noughts + Crosses have been a few of my favourites.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” — Confucius, Chinese philosopher.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

For broadcasters to commission shows reflective of today’s society and for directors to be selected based on suitability and skill. This will open doors for directors of all backgrounds to display their craft at the highest level.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

Hiring practices are extremely informal and more often than not directors are chosen based on personal relationships or previous credits rather than skill. As a result, broadcasters and production companies regularly use the same directors and crews for all of their shows. This means that a very small percentage of directors occupy the vast majority of the major shows and formats we see on TV.

Which director do you most admire and why?

John Singleton, a bold, fearless and determined American film director, unapologetic in his style, particularly at a time where his incorporation of real-life American hip-hop culture in film was not particularly welcome in Hollywood and black directors were not getting many opportunities. He showed real bravery and imagination casting hip-hop artists as actors and creating authentic stories in a totally unique way.

Nic Guttridge - Chair of the TV Factual Committee

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Through A Child's Eyes.

What’s the best advice you've ever been given?

If something feels wrong, don't do it even if everyone around you says you should. Your instincts are your best friend. 

What’s your favourite film?

Some Like It Hot.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Modern Family.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by” - Douglas Adams.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

I would make it a requirement that all commissioners had a background in programme-making.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

The challenges that young would-be directors face in getting relevant experience these days is very concerning. The opportunities to work alongside established directors, to watch crews in action, and to shadow edits are few and far between - which makes it very difficult for people to learn the craft of directing in any structured way. 

Which director do you most admire and why?

Anyone who successfully directed more than one episode of Wife Swap is my hero. It nearly killed me!

Lotus Hannon - Associate Members’ Representative

Which project of yours are you most proud of? 

Whatever I’m currently working on, as I like to look forward and keep improving.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.

What’s your favourite film? 

I have many! A few are: Out of Sight, The Long Kiss Goodnight, In the Cut, Brothers, Tell No One, Panic Room and The Lives of Others. A recent favourite is Tangerine.

What’s your favourite TV show? 

The original Swedish The Bridge and I really liked River.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

Again I have many! Some of the most impactful dialogue that comes to mind, is in Chinatown, the scene where just 4 words, “my sister, my daughter” are repeated and punctuated with slaps. It’s disturbingly powerful.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Create a level playing field for women and diverse directors, including for directors who are mothers: 5 day shooting weeks, so you can maintain continuity in the relationships with your children, at least at the weekends.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

How to monetise our work online.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Again I admire many, including Danny Boyle, Suzanne Bier and Jane Campion, but the director I most admire is Bharat Nalluri. He was the first real film director I ever met, in my early 20s, in Newcastle. For me he made directing something within my reach rather than something remote that just happened in Hollywood. I’ve been lucky to be mentored by him and I’ve learnt and been inspired by him so much over the years. He’s an incredibly positive and very intuitive person. I really like his very open and relaxed approach. I love the slickness and sexiness of his directing style: his dynamic use of movement, his highly inventive sleek, smoke-and-mirrors visuals within his action/thriller work. And he also gets incredibly poignant performances from his actors. Tsunami: The Aftermath is so gut-wrenchingly moving.

Jessica Hobbs

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Apple Tree Yard for the experience of the brilliant people I got to make it with and Love My Way also for the brilliant people I got to make it with.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Listening to Ang Lee at a DGA talk years ago say “If I’m not sure what to do I close my eyes and imagine what I would do if nobody else was there”. Invaluable when you’re on a set with a hundred people watching you with expectation

What’s your favourite film?

So many so I’m just going to start making a list — Coming Home, Laurel Canyon, Say Anything, You Can Count On Me, Boy, The Ice Storm, Monsoon Wedding

What’s your favourite TV show?

Deadwood, Friday Night Lights, I Love Dick, Studio Sixty on the Sunset Strip, Girls, Transparent

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“This is not flying this is falling with style” — Toy Story (always good to remember when you make a creative leap that you realise too late might not quite work)

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Creative rights and anything that helps build better creative collaboration. 

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

As a female director — we simply need more of us. 

Which director do you most admire and why?

Again a list — Ang Lee, Lisa Cholodenko, Lynne Ramsay, Jill Solloway, Taika Waititi. They are all brave authentic voices whose work I love and admire.

Morgan Hopkins - Nations and Regions Representative for Wales

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

My four kids – ongoing.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice is to be careful who’s advice you adhere to. People can only tell you what's happened to them, historically and our business is constantly changing, finding new avenues and new problems. There’s a limit to what comforts you can take on an adventure.

What’s your favourite film?

My favourite film depends on the company I’m trying to impress, though I will often make myself smile with Grosse Pointe Blank – for its successful bits, its failures and its conviction.

What’s your favourite TV show?

I loved Life On Mars. I still love it because it shows that content can be risky, abstract and strange and still be massively popular. Bang - a series shot in Wales in Welsh and English last year is pretty phenomenal too. I have all the Buffys on DVD. All of them.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“Shit. What? Rollers. No. Yeah. Shit.”

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

More time and platforms probably, but always time. It’s not our friend ever. Also, the bloody weather. In the valleys of Wales we get an hour of useable light a day. In Summer, between squalls.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

I think it has to be control of content. It worries me deeply that directors are often seen as providers of shots who must then disappear into the ether whilst others control the cut and everything that happens thereafter, only to shoulder any blame when things don’t go to plan. I would love to see us being more assertive about ownership. That and pay of course, of course.

Which director do you most admire and why?

You know that director who has full control of cast, the technical aspects of projects and selling? Her. She’s the best.

Christine Lalla

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

I made my feature, The New Boy, in seven days with a budget of £6,000 – I was really proud to see it premiere at the East End Film Festival.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was solely a cinematographer, I was getting some plaudits for my work on a short I had lensed. After paying his compliments, a BSC member told me: “Remember, no matter how great your work is, you’ll be fired if you can’t complete the day”. I think that’s good advice for a director too.

What’s your favourite film?

Gattaca, Get Out, Never Let Me Go, Moneyball, Silkwood, Five Easy Pieces, Duel, Silent Running.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Life on Mars, Kim’s Convenience, I Claudius, Black-ish, 30 Rock, The Good Fight, The Last Dance.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

From California Suite (dir: Herbert Ross): 

Hannah: You drive everywhere, do you?
Bill: Everywhere.
Hannah: Even to your car?

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Humane working hours.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

The sheer number of experienced mid-career directors of colour and female directors who are not progressing onto bigger shoots. The industry is in danger of losing established talent, skills and original stories.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Mike Nichols for his comedic timing, dramatic range and for drawing magic from his actors.

“A director’s chief virtue should be to persuade you through a role; Mike’s the only one I know who can do it.” – Richard Burton

Lisi Russell - Successor Representative

Lisi Russell joins the Directors UK Board as Successor Representative. Lisi was happily married to the late director Ken Russell, and is director of Ken Russell Productions Ltd. Active now as a professional theatre and film actor, published poet, produced playwright, recording singer, Lisi has regularly presented Ken Russell’s films at cinema houses in London, Lymington, Keswick, New York City and North Carolina, and was Keynote speaker the Kingston University Film Symposium in 2017.

As she prepares to start her new role on the Board, Lisi said: “I am honoured to be asked to join the Directors UK Board. I have been a British film obsessive since my journalist father acquired for me a press pass to get into movies from the age of twelve. I very much respect and am on personal terms with many British film directors. I have experience making sure designees in wills are rightfully located and bequests distributed, and believe I can handle this aspect of my new role sensitively. I look forward to working with such a personable and effective group of Board members.”

Dan Zeff - Chair of the Distribution Committee

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Hattie would have to be up there - a touching, thoughtful, and original drama made for BBC4 with a wonderful team and a lot of creative freedom. And there's a special place in my heart for Sweetnightgoodheart - an early short that I wrote and directed, starring an insanely young David Tennant.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“If you want to learn about directing, direct”.

What’s your favourite film?

Fellini’s Amarcord.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Drama: The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Fargo

Comedy: Louie, Community, Veep

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

‘No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better’.

If you could change one thing about the film/TV industry to make directors’ lives better, what would it be?

Outlaw six-day shooting weeks. Or at least make them the rare exception rather than the norm.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing directors?

The combination of stagnant pay and increasingly demanding working conditions and hours.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Preston Sturges - a true original and trailblazer. One of the first Hollywood writers to turn writer-director, he made genre-defying films that are still razor-fresh today, funny and sharp, touching and cynical - ‘like a jab in the ribs, a sexy kiss in a church’. If rumours are to be believed, he also invented the first Kiss-Proof Lipstick.

Deborah Stones

Deborah Stones has worked for over 30 years in the copyright and collective management industries. Originally a solicitor and partner in the Intellectual Property department of law firm, Taylor Joynson Garrett (now Taylor Wessing), she specialised in copyright and entertainment law. Deborah has acted for several collecting societies in the music, visual arts, publishing and audio-visual industries, including, as it was then, the DPRS. In her position as General Counsel at PRS until April 2020, Deborah was part of the Executive Leadership Team and had responsibility for the provision of legal services to the company for the policy and public affairs functions. In that regard, Deborah has been heavily involved in many significant regulatory and legislative developments affecting copyright and the creative industries in Europe and the UK. Deborah joins as the first independent member of the Directors UK Board.

Deborah Stones said: “I am delighted to be joining the Board of Directors UK. In the last twenty years or so since I first worked with the team, the organisation has developed enormously, and it has achieved a great deal for film and TV directors in that period. I very much look forward to playing a part in its future and that of its members.”

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