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

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.

Philippa Collie Cousins - Vice-Chair and Nations and Regions Representative for Wales

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

Happy Now? a feature film with Jonathan Rhys Myers and Paddy Considine.

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

“Lots of people are talented in this business but few have the true grit it takes to keep going and keep making films”, the great Alan Lewens, Arena director.

What’s your favourite film?

Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean.

What’s your favourite TV show?

The IT Crowd and Father Ted by Graham Linehan.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude, so that’s what you call me. Or maybe His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing”.

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

Every good idea pitched gets made with a decent budget.

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

Most people think it’s the morning puzzle over skinny jeans and Converses or chinos and loafers? But really it’s why is my next door neighbour, Ms Producer, getting her phone number in royalty cheques when I barely get my pin number for the same amount of shows.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Alice Guy-Blaché (July 1, 1873 – March 24, 1968) pioneer director of French cinema. She saw the potential for telling stories on film and persuaded Gaumont to let her make a fiction film.

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...

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!

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.

Otto Bathurst - Nations and Regions Representative for South West England

Otto Bathurst - Nations & Regions Representative for South-West England

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

It’s hard. Apart from a pilot I shot in the US last year, I’m proud of everything that I have done in that I have given it my all and squeezed as much gold out of the opportunity as possible. But possibly Black Mirror. You don’t need big bucks to create thought provoking content.

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

Be everything that you are in everything that you do.

What’s your favourite film?

I don’t have one. My top 10 changes all the time. For example when I was shooting Peaky Blinders, Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair was blowing me away each time I watched it. So it changes. District 9. Ghost Dog. Hoop Dreams. The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Magnolia. The Insider. The Consequences of Love. Elephant Man…but then, if I’m with my kids, it’s all about Real Steel!

What’s your favourite TV show?

I actually watch very little TV. The little amount of time I get to spend in front of a screen is usually taken up with watching movies.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

It’s impossible for me to even begin to choose!

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

I can’t really answer that question. Our lives are dependant on the choices that we make. I love my job and prefer to focus on appreciating that.

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

In the UK - that not enough time or money is spent on scripts, writers and script development. It is all about the script.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Much like my film list, it changes and is dependent on what I am working on and pondering. For example, I am currently greatly enjoying early Michael Mann because I’m shooting an urban thriller. I am a huge fan of Oren Moverman. Tomas Alfredson because Let the Right One In is very close to perfection. PTA - obviously. And then there are others. Gareth Edwards’ Monsters is an astonishing achievement. Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is right up there for me, but not so much his newer stuff. Nikolaj Arcel (see above), Paolo Sorrentino….the list goes on and on. What I do know is that everyone has peaks and troughs. Which proves to me something that I have always felt - filmmaking is a massively collaborative process and no director can operate in a bubble. That is what I love about it - the other people...and the alchemy of everyone working together.

Illy Hill - Nations and Regions Representative for North West England

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

My community work, encouraging and giving disadvantaged young people a voice to express their opinions through the medium of film.

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

Don’t take no for an answer and always be forthright, honest and true to yourself and your beliefs.

What’s your favourite film?

Diva.

What’s your favourite TV show?

E.R.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“Carpe Diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary”, Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

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

To give them the recognition and respect that they deserve.

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

This government and its anti-culture views.

Which director do you most admire and why?

Jeremy Summers, who taught me what directing was all about.

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.

Michael Omer - Successor Members’ Representative

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

The concert hall commission To the Stars - a requiem for the space-shuttle Challenger, in memory of school teacher Christa MacAuliffe and the shuttle crew who perished at launch, which premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. My scores for the BBC classic dramas Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Prince & the Pauper - both for Julian Fellowes  -  are still very close to my heart, as is the Oscar-nominated It’s Good to Talk for Barney Reisz.

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

“Trust your own gut instinct” and  “When it’s time to to move to the country……….you’ll know!” (I just have!).

What’s your favourite film?

Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Frasier.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it, is that clear?

There are no nations! There are no peoples! There are no Russians. There are no Arabs! There are no third worlds! There is no West! There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immune, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars!”  

From Network (1976) by Paddy Chayefsky, directed by Sidney Lumet.

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

Always give them the final cut - they always know best!

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

IP of course! Acknowledging the unique ingredients each individual brings to a production, and protecting them contractually and artistically. 

Which director do you most admire and why?

The children’s television director Marilyn Fox, my late wife, who produced and directed everything from The Chronicles of Narnia to Jackanory with Dame Jude, et al. She is the reason I am a successor director on the Board.

Geoff Posner

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

This is a tricky one, because I’ve worked with a lot of artistes over the years, and I don’t want to upset any feelings, but I think most people will understand when I say that the shows I worked on with Victoria Wood remain very near and dear to me. That many of them seem to have stayed funny after all this time (nearly 30 years) makes me even more proud. She and I were right at the beginning of our careers, and we ‘grew up’ together. It was also a period of complete creative control, as I both Produced and Directed (in those days in the Entertainment department, you couldn’t become a Producer unless you had been a Director – Ha!). Nobody else was involved in the Production process at all. No interference at any stage of the proceedings: when I finished editing, we’d send a VHS (Ha! Again!) to our Head of Department, who might have some comments to make (usually really wise ones), but it was more on an advisory basis.

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

I was once faced with an immense project in about 5 different languages, and in the days of tiny Production teams, a huge amount of responsibility lay on my shoulders, and I felt totally out of my depth. A wise Script Supervisor sensed my feeling of inadequacy, put her arms around my shoulders and said “Geoff, it’ll happen come what may, and it’ll be fine”. It did and it was.

What’s your favourite film?

A toss-up between Zazie Dans Le Metro, a very obscure French film by Louis Malle, and Bob Fosse’s Cabaret.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Another toss-up. This time, between Fleabag and Anglia Weather.

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

It has to be a line from Victoria Wood’s Kitty. “And I shall wait to see myself before I do any more. Fortunately, I’ve just had my TV mended. I say mended; a shifty young man in plimsolls waggled my aerial and wolfed my Gipsy Creams, but that’s the comprehensive system for you.”

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

Re-establish trust.

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

There are many issues that are pressing at the moment: money, creative control, involvement in the production process, disappearing credits. But the most pressing is simply our declining status. 

Which director do you most admire and why?

Another joint credit this: Michael Lindsay Hogg, who took over a pop show we all used to watch when we were at school called Ready Steady Go! and single-handedly changed the way pop music appeared on TV (and incidentally seduced a young Geoff Posner into the world of television). Leaping forward fifty years, Nikki Parsons, who makes directing a two and a bit hour live Strictly Come Dancing each week look so effortless, when it’s clearly the work of a genius.

Anna Thomson

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. Password: toronto

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.

Paul Unwin

Which project of yours are you most proud of?

I’m not great with my back catalogue so can only answer that I am proudest of the last thing I wrote and directed. In this case it is a two part opening of the 30th anniversary of the series I co-created with Jeremy Brock, Casualty.

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

If you don’t like the writing do it yourself.

What’s your favourite film?

Bertolucci’s The Conformist.

What’s your favourite TV show?

The French cop show Spiral (Endranges).

Favourite piece of dialogue/quotation?

“It was a dark and stormy night…”.

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

We usually work on our own. I think for us through DUK to share struggles, and triumphs, and develop professional solidarity - when often we are in competition with each other - would make us happier and we would become a force to be really reckoned with.

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

Pay.

Which director do you most admire and why?

I admire the many unsung directors who go on doing incredible work in TV, film, games, animation… The famous ones know who they are and get enough admiration already, the rest get my vote.