Director pay rates have been frozen for the last seven years - this means a pay cut in real terms.
For too long too much money has been spent on management and not enough has been invested in the creative people who make great programmes. For many directors, pay rates have effectively been frozen and this is now against a backdrop where broadcasters are making record-breaking profits, the expansion of subscription services continues and content platforms attract increasing numbers of viewers.
Directors, as the creative leads, are responsible for navigating productions through increasingly pressured schedules and tightening budgets, while embracing new working practices and technologies and acquiring new skills. But while the expectations placed on the director have significantly increased, the pay for this complex, specialist work has not. Responsibility and seniority on set is no longer recognised through production pay structures and working conditions, with directors frequently being paid less than other crew colleagues.
BBC pay deal
In June 2017 Directors UK and the BBC reached an agreement on a new pay deal for directors working on their five continuing drama series: Casualty, Holby City, EastEnders, Father Brown and Doctors. The new deal runs for two years, and all new pay rates will be backdated to 1 March 2017. There has also been some movement on travel and subsistence expenses for the majority of programmes.
The BBC has agreed that pay progression within the maximum and minimum pay ranges will be determined through a more formal creative conversation between the director and the executive producer or series producer. The outcome of these conversations will be relayed to the talent team who will consider it and will use it as the basis of negotiation for the next booking.
As part of the new deal the BBC has committed to a process of consulting with us about the creative and working relationship with directors. The BBC will set up meetings in each of the continuing drama bases with Oliver Kent and Nikki Saunders, as well as meetings in central London. These meetings will be informal and collaborative and provide an opportunity for the free flow of information and an honest exchange of views with directors in relation to the shows, how they operate and the role of directors working on them.
ITV pay deal
In October 2015, Directors UK agreed a new pay deal with ITV Studios to cover freelance directors working on Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
ITV also agreed to increase its allowance for a contribution to rail fares for those directors living in London and working on the two programmes. For other destinations outside a radius from base of 30 miles, ITV will reimburse the cost of a standard class off-peak rail fare from home to base.
Directors UK CEO Andrew Chowns said: “This is the first freelance pay deal Directors UK has negotiated, and I am pleased that we have made real progress in some very tough talks with ITV Studios on their flagship series. I have been inspired by the commitment and solidarity shown by our group of directors in pursuing their claim for a fairer pay deal. They have shown all of us that we can come together as a profession to fight for and win fairer pay deals”.
Entertainment and Multi-camera Rate Card
In early 2015, Directors UK published its official rate card for directors working on entertainment and multi-camera shows. The minimum daily rate is £600 for all directors and this rate became effective from 1 October 2014.
See below for further details:
- The recommended minimum daily rate for entertainment and multi-camera directors shall be £600 per day with effect from 1 October 2014.
- This rate is exclusive of holiday, which must be added to this rate if a director is unable to take any leave.
- The minimum rate for directors operating via a loan-out company is £665 per day, to compensate for the lack of holiday pay.
- A booking may be made for less than one full day e.g. half a day, but the minimum rate is still £600.
- This rate applies to productions in the following genres:
- Broken comedy and sketch shows
- Celebrity panel and quiz shows
- Chat shows
- Comedy stand up performances
- Music performances
- Game shows
- Major “shiny floor” entertainment
- Multi-camera studio factual programmes, e.g. cookery shows
- Directors’ pay has been static or fallen over time
- Directors’ pay has fallen in comparison with other senior grades
- Directors’ pay has fallen in comparison with permanent staff
- Directors work excessive hours without any overtime
- Holiday pay is not properly recognised
- Expenses have been driven down or not paid at all (particularly for directors living in the nations and regions)
- Directors as freelancers are not able to obtain work for 52 weeks of the year
To achieve fair pay for UK directors working in television across all specialisms, genres and employer groups. To deliver – through focused and targeted action – real term pay increases for working directors.
The Directors UK Pay campaign was initiated by member feedback and experience supported by an internal pay survey carried out by Directors UK in 2015. Our evidence confirmed that directors across all genres have been consistently falling outside of the general pay increases being awarded to other professions working in television production - often including those working on the very same programmes.
With Directors UK’s working membership at around 2,200 directors, the 312 submissions we received on our pay survey provided us with a strong sample of just under 15% of our members. 37% of responses came from drama directors, 51% factual directors, and 12% from multi-camera and entertainment directors. A survey like this was not something Directors UK had undertaken before and it provided valuable insight into how genre, type of programme, location and broadcaster/indie can affect the range of pay rates on offer.
From the survey we developed a clear overview of pay levels across the genres, with many submissions covering what should be the better-paid, most high-profile work:
- 96% of respondents were principal, tier 1 directors
- 83% of respondents were working on peak-time productions
- Responses included a good spread of work across the broadcasters; just over half of submissions (54%) were for BBC commissions, with ITV and Channel 4 both at 12% and Channel 5 and Sky at 3%
- The gender breakdown of responses was not dissimilar to our overall membership (30% women to 70% men)
For a detailed analysis of the first round of results members can read our report: It Pays to Know - The Real Picture on Directors’ Pay, or have a look at a short two-page summary.
From this improved level of understanding, Directors UK could work with its members to identify specific areas around which to focus our campaigning and negotiating activity. This in turn has led to us developing a highly effective model for improving directors pay – most recently seen in the success achieved across both ITV’s and BBC’s continuing dramas.
For more information about these successes please see the Pay deals section above.
However, our Pay campaign can only be as strong as the information we receive from members, which is why we need as many members as possible to contribute and continue to complete the pay survey with each new job.
But more evidence is needed...
The pay survey remains open and if you haven’t already done so please submit details of projects you’ve worked on so we can gain a better understanding of your particular genre and what’s happening to your level of pay.
Directors UK Chair Steve Smith has first-hand experience of how effective this approach has been in successfully campaigning for better pay for entertainment and multi-camera directors, and he urges all directors to keep on submitting information so we can push for better pay for every director across all genres:
“Having accurate up-to-date pay information from over 6,500 directors will help us continue to campaign for better pay for all. It also gives us the information we need to demonstrate just how far directors’ pay has fallen behind when we enter negotiations with broadcasters and producers.
“I would ask all members if you could take a few moments to complete this new online survey to help us help you get a better deal on pay”.
With pay rates and working conditions so closely tied together we all know what a huge difference a good or bad working experience can make. This is where Directors UK’s Employer Advisor comes into its own. Employer Advisor is our version of Trip Advisor, where members can submit information about the jobs they’ve had, the companies they’ve worked for and why they would (or wouldn’t) recommend them to others. But again, this resource can only be as useful as you, our members, make it, so please take the time to submit your experiences.
Fair pay for all
Each of Directors UK’s genre committees will continue to work on improving pay rates across their respective areas. They will do this through direct engagement with our members and by identifying the specific sub-genres, programmes and/or employers that we should be focusing on to improve pay rates.