Liz Holmes, 26 January 2015

Liz Holmes, Francesca Murray, Milli Bhatia, Julia Locascio, Dan Ayling & others,

please add your names!)

The session was called by 3 Birkbeck MA students, in direct response to the SDUK

fee report. Their perception is that money is available, but venues and ACE invest in

capital to keep the buildings standing, but not the work that happens there (and

certainly not the Directors that make it).

They feel that the SDUK report led to an “empowered switch of perception”.

One attendee knows someone who Directed 11 shows in one year!

A lot of Directors’ work is incredibly varied, which makes it very difficult for agents, who

“don’t know what to do with you”, so many remain unrepresented.

Some feel that “slashies” are taking work away from dedicated directors (Slashies

being those who take multiple roles actor/director, producer/director, stage

manager/director etc.

Common consensus is that Equity have let Directors down very much, but that

Directors, as members should take some collective responsibility for not raising this


Post-graduation, new Directors can’t join Equity because they have strict criteria about

number of weeks in paid work at certain rates. It is hard to get entry-level jobs that fulfil

the criteria, so the students feel they compelled to join SDUK, for some representation,

and for a voice.

One attendee is living in a hostel, sharing a room with 11 others, in order to try and

gain Directing experience, cold emailing Directors and creating a ‘map’ of connections.

A lot of groundwork to even get a conversation going.

Directors must take ownership of negotiating their own contracts too, but SDUK is

about solidarity and backing. Maybe it doesn’t need to take on the Unions.

One attendee discussed working practices 20 years ago, where it was expected that

Directors could travel outside of peak hours to save money, that subsistence was

always paid, that they never even bought their own lunch.

Many feel they are ‘living on adrenalin’, ‘spread very thinly’, ‘facing burnout

overlapping projects’. Some have a ‘day job’ to support Directing, which perpetuates

the idea that pursuing a career in Directing is a ‘luxury’ or hobby.

Students queried the endless unpaid internships, assistant posts asking “how long do

we have to be in training?” – especially when in receipt of a Master’s degree!

Several attendees discussed how, when running a company, often the Director’s fees

are the first to take a hit when other aspects of a production need more money.

International directors viewed the UK ‘system’ as superior and clear, hence moving

here, and are now disillusioned.

Tackling fees from the top down, hoping for a trickle down/domino effect, leaves the

bottom feeders hungry.


directors, Equity, money, Fees, Directors, equity, fees, SDUK, Money