Filmmakers unite on bargaining agreement

A group of U.K. directors has launched a formal organization with the goal of securing a standard collective bargaining agreement with British employers.

“There’s an increasingly large group of directors who need representation of their creative and economic rights,” said Charles Sturridge, chairman of Directors U.K. “We see this as a big, all-encompassing organization.”

He also noted that directors in the U.K. have no standard contract addressing pay or working conditions. And they are paid considerably less than in the U.S.

The London-based group — which already has a dozen employees and is aiming to rep 3,000 directors — has quietly evolved over the past two years as the successor org to the Directors and Producers Rights Society, which previously focused only on collections and rights exploitation. It has also replaced the Directors Guild of Great Britain, which agreed to fold its tent with the emergence of Directors U.K.

Directors U.K. is planning to hold an official unveiling in May. Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) is president; board members include feature directors David Yates, Gurinder Chadha, Roger Michell and Simon Curtis, docu helmers Brian Hill, Simon Berthon and Peter Nicholson and TV director Peter Kosminsky.

“One of the keystones of the organization is that it’s led by working directors,” said Sturridge, whose credits include “Brideshead Revisited,” “Lassie” and “Shackelton.”

Sturridge credited fellow Brit and Directors Guild of America president Michael Apted with providing a spark for the idea two years ago while the latter was in the U.K. working on “Amazing Grace.”

Apted is in his third two-year term as president of the DGA, which recently ratified a three-year deal that goes into effect in July. He said that the 2006 meeting involved about 30 people and was designed to raise awareness among his colleagues as to the relative lack of creative and economic protection in the U.K.

Apted noted that he did not suggest any specific path for the directors to take at that meeting and isn’t directly involved with the org at this point, noting that he’s not only at the head of the DGA but also in pre-production on the third “Chronicles of Narnia” pic.

“I’m very impressed that the Directors U.K. has come together in a relatively short time,” he added.

The DGA, which marked its 70th anniversary recently, has been offering support to the new Brit org via its coordinating committee for the U.K. and Ireland, with the idea of addressing the needs of DGA members in those nations. That panel is chaired by Michael Caton Jones; members include Jim Gillespie, Mike Newell, Jim Sheridan, Richard Loncraine, Kosminsky, Michell and Yates.

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