Directors Guild of Great Britain: directing film and theatre
History & Awards





The Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) began in 1983 as a breakaway group of leading British directors. Dissatisfied by poor representation of directors by the large technical trade unions, at an inaugural meeting at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho they resolved directors needed an independent voice – and directors were best represented by themselves in their own directors’ organisation.

Over the last 25 years, the Guild has been the only organisation UK for directors across all media, in television, multimedia and film, theatre and radio, opera and dance, games and new technologies. It has evolved from a small professional organisation through being an independent trade union and is now a not-for-profit limited company asset-linked to its sister charity, the Directors Guild Trust.

The DGGB’s members have always had an interest in the broadest nature of their profession and industry – because of the way directors now work within and across many different media, the Guild reflects this diversity in the nature of it's craft and training events. The Guild has championed understanding and respect for the work of directors both within our industry and across the public at large. It has done this at every level, from workshops and master-classes, seminars and one-to-ones, through our magazine Direct, through screenings, reports and observers’ schemes to almost a dozen lifetime achievement awards for of some of the great directors working in the British Isles. (See AWARDS below)

The DGGB has been instrumental in the battle to improve directors’ terms, conditions and remuneration; establishing The Directors & Producers Rights Society (DPRS)  in 1987, and initiating the TV directors’ rights strike in 2000, creating an industry-wide alliance of the Guild, BECTU and the DPRS, which has brought about new residual block payment agreements with the main UK TV broadcasters and production companies and an industry-wide Directors Forum, and has generated contract advice guides and code of practice guidelines for directors in television drama and non-fiction programming. Through our specialised Television, Theatre, Film and Radio groups, the Guild has produced model contracts, guides and provides advice across all live and recorded media. In 2008 the Guild was pleased to acknowledge the DPRS becoming Directors UK, the foremost industrial negotiating body for British recorded media directors.

The DGGB’s has had wide involvement in the national and international arena, through its membership and participation in, variously, Fédération Européenne des Réalisateurs Audiovisuels (FERA), Association Internationale des Auteurs de L’Audiovisuel (AIDAA), the Conference of European Theatre Directors and the International Association of English Speaking Directors Organisations (IAESDO), the National Capmaign for the Arts (NCA), the Creative Rights Alliance (CRA).

The DGGB held the inaugural Conference of European Theatre Directors in 1995 at the University of Cambridge, with further conferences over the last ten years; Framing Shakespeare (1997)  an international forum with the International Theatre Institute and Shakespeare’s Globe, Facing the Audience – Utrecht (2001), Directing Changes - Thessaloniki (2002), and Staging Independence – Alexandria (2003).   Other events have taken place through collaboration with our sister organisations – most notably with the Writers’ Guild for Five Plays in Five Days in 1998 & 2000 and with Equity for the Ensemble Theatre Conference (Barbican, 2004).

The DGGB Awards, in 2004 and 2005, were the first awards in this country to acknowledge outstanding achievement and excellence in directing solely for directors and by directors, with keynote awards for Richard Curtis, Simon McBurney, and Sam Mendes. With the help of the Directors Guild Trust (DGT) and the UK Film Council (UKFC), a series of blue plaques have been instigated acknowledging directing talent - initially for Michael Powell (2005) and Alexander Mackendrick (2006), followed by David Lean in 2008 and Brian Desmond Hurst (2011). Future blue plaque projects include John Schlesinger and Joan Littlewood.

The Guild continues its support for directors through the promotion of our art, skill and craft across all media, through training, and information provision to drive greater respect and understanding for the director’s work within government, the industry and the general public.  Whether you are a working director or not, we value your support of the Directors Guild.



Over the last 25 years, The Guild has staged ten Lifetime Achievement Awards honouring individual directors and two full Guild Award ceremonies honouring a range of directors nominated in a variety of categories.

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

1993   Fred Zinnemann

1994   Roy Boulting

1995   Joan Littlewood

1996   Christopher Morahan

1997   Sir Richard Eyre CBE

1998   Sir Alan Parker CBE  (download original program HERE)

1999   Stanley Kubrick  (download original program HERE)

2001   Peter Brook CH  (download original program HERE)

2002   John Schlesinger CBE  (download original program HERE)

2003   Sir Trevor Nunn CBE  (download original program HERE)

2005   Sam Mendes

On 21st February 2004, the Directors Guild of Great Britain inaugurated its Annual Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Film and Television.

Richard Curtis attended the event to accept the Guild’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Film and Television presented to him by Bafta Award Winner Bill Nighy. Piers Haggard received the Directors Guild Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Guild and Craft of Directing, presented to him by Sir Alan Parker. Piers Haggard was a founder member of the Guild in 1983.

The 2004 DGGB Award Winners for Outstanding Directorial Achievement are as follows:

International Film - Peter Jackson for Lord Of The Rings, The Return Of The King

British Film - Michael Winterbottom for In This World

Foreign Film - Wolfgang Becker for Goodbye, Lenin!

Television Movie/Serial - David Yates for State of Play

Documentary - Angus Macqueen for The Last Peasants - A Good Wife

Outstanding Contribution to British Film and Television - Richard Curtis

Outstanding Contribution to the Guild and Craft of Directing - Piers Haggard


On 20th March 2005 at the Curzon Mayfair, London, the Directors Guild of Great Britain celebrated its second Directors Guild Awards for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Film and Television with a gala ceremony.

The DGGB Awards honoured, amongst others, director Sam Mendes with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in theatre and film and director Simon McBurney with an Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatre.

The compere for the evening was Michael Winner. 
Kevin Spacey and Simon Russell Beale attended the event on behalf of Sam Mendes.

The 2005 DGGB Award Winners for Outstanding Directorial Achievement are as follows:

International Film - Bill Condon for Kinsey

British Film (joint winners) - Shane Meadows for Dead Man’s Shoes,
Pawel Pawlikowski for My Summer of Love

Foreign Language Film -  Walter Salles for The Motorcycle Diaries

Television Documentary  - Adam Curtis for The Power of Nightmares - Baby Its Cold Outside

Television Movie / Mini Series - Leo Regan for Comfortably Numb                      

     (the nominees for this award were: Adrian Shergold for Dirty Filthy Love,
     Pete Travis for Omagh, and David Yates for Sex Traffic

60 Minute Television - John Strickland for Bodies (Episode 1)

Radio (body of work) -  Jane Morgan

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatre - Simon McBurney. Presented by Sir Richard Eyre

Lifetime Achievement Award - Sam Mendes

Presented by Kevin Spacey & accepted by Simon Russell Beale on behalf of Sam Mendes

        “The Guild likes the idea of being bold enough to recognise formidable
          achievement in a body of work, no matter the age of the individual"

Due to filming Jarhead in Mexico, Sam Mendes was unable to attend the event.
The following is an excerpt from the transcript of his acceptance message:
"I feel extremely grateful to the Directors Guild – I’m very surprised. I feel very undeserving. There are many more deserving directors, probably a lot of the people sitting in this room! I feel the award is a bank loan, which I’ll take out and pay back by the end of 20 years,and by then I’ll feel more deserving. I don’t feel deserving. I feel extremely lucky to have done all this work at such a young age. I’d like to say thank you to all the people that have helped me. I feel like I’ve stood on pairs of shoulders over the last 20-25 years, of writers, designers, cinematographers, costume designers, make up artists – and in particular, actors. Kevin Spacey and Simon Russell Beale have been part of my favourite projects.
Most of all I’d like to say thank you to the directors who have influenced me while I was young in theatre. Peter Brook, Peter Stein, Luke Bondy, Deborah Warner, Nick Hytner. I’d like to say thank you for all the support I received when I first started out in theatre. Terry Hands; Richard Eyre; ... David Levaux; John Crowley; Michael Grandage ... I enjoy the society of other directors, and I think it was Max Stafford Clark who likened being a director to being an alcoholic – you never know other people are going through
the same experience until you meet and work with them.

It gives me great pride and joy to say I’m Sam Mendes, and I’m a director." (Sam Mendes, March 2005)

For details of 2005 nominees and awards download a copy of the original brochure in PDF HERE


The following is a list of conferences, talks, strategic meetings and festivals that have been initiated by Live Media and have contributed significantly to the Guild profile and prestige. They have also brought considerable funding into the Guild. Although Live Media activities, are predominantly for directors in theatre, dance, opera, performance and site-specific arts, they have always included Recorded Media participants.

1993 Conflict of Identity: Nationalism and Theatre. A discussion at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Organized with the International Theatre Institute. International participants. Funded by the British Council. Sold-out. High profile.

The Inaugural Conference of European Theatre Directors and 1st European Theatre Directors Forum Towards the Millenium. Cambridge.
Also: National Theatre platform debate about war in Yugoslavia.

 1995/96 The Gate Talks. Series on different aspects of nationalism and theatre at the Gate Theatre, London. Included one with Ion Caramitru, (Romania), Richard Eyre and Genista McIntosh and another with Jonathan Miller and Neil Wallace. Funded by the British Council. Recorded by Theatre Museum.
 1996  Framing Shakespeare.  A meeting of Directors from all media focusing on Shakespeare. Theatre Museum, London.

Staging Many Europes. The second European Theatre Directors Forum, Maastricht, attended by 200 delegates from all over Europe.
 1997 Kinesis and Metakinesis. Third European Theatre Directors Forum, Athens. Followed by report: Director Training in Europe
 1998 Rehearsing the Future: Strategies for the Emerging Director in Europe. Fourth European Directors Forum, Maastricht. Followed by three part report: Rehearsing the Future: Strategies for the Emerging Director in Europe 1. Models, 2. Voices & 3. Conversations.

Five Plays in Five Days. In association with Writers Guild of Great Britain and Equity. Raised £10,000 UK sponsorship.

Five Plays in Five Days. In association with Writers Guild of Great Britain and Equity. Raised £10,000 sponsorship.

Facing the Audience: Strategic Meeting for Directors and Theatremakers. Utrecht. Followed by publication: Facing the Audience: Strategies for European Directors and Theatremakers

 2002 Directing Changes: Strategic Meeting of European Directors and Theatremakers. Followed by publication: Directing Changes: Strategic Meeting of European Directors and Theatremakers

Staging Independence: Strategic Meeting of Directors and Theatremakers from Europe and the Arab World. Followed by publication in English and Arabic Staging Independence: Mutual Strategies for Directors and Theatremakers in Europe and the Arab World. This report was launched at the Amman International Festival for Independent Theatre Festival in 2004. Also a follow-up meeting in the context of the Festival.

 2004 Ensemble Theatre Conference. Staged at London Barbican in collaboration with Equity, with participants from UK and Europe. Keynote speech from Michael Boyd, Artistic Director of the RSC. Funds raised for the conference report from Arts Council England.

All the Forums raised considerable funds and input from Guild staff was paid for out of funds raised. The meetings were key to us getting the support from the Union Learning Fund / Skillset since they gave us a commendable track record in advanced vocational training. 

Funding for these events has been raised from: the British Council, the Scottish Arts Council, the London Arts Council, the Arts Council of England; the Goethe Institute; the Swedish Institute; the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschappen, the Netherlands; the Fund for the Performing Arts, the Netherlands; the Stichting Nederlands Toneelverbond; the Hellenic Ministry of Culture; the European Union; the Prince Claus Fund; the European Cultural Foundation; the Dutch Embassy, Egypt; the Roberto Cimmetto Fund; the Province of Limburg; the University of Maastricht; the National Theatre of Northern Greece;  the Jekerstudio, Maastricht; The Stadsschouwburg, Utrecht; the Society Of London Theatres; the Peggy Ramsay Foundation; the Jerwood Foundation; The Stage; The Telegraph, etc. Many of these organisations have supported Guild meetings on more than one occasion. 

The following reports and publications* have been produced for Live Media conferences. These reports give a voice to directors and insights into current theatre practice. Participants include artists and directors working in recorded and multi-media as well as theatre: 

Director Training in Europe (report from the European Theatre Directors Forum held in 1997)
Rehearsing the Future: Strategies for the Emerging Director in Europe: 1. Models
Rehearsing the Future: Strategies for the Emerging Director in Europe
: 2.Voices
Rehearsing the Future: Strategies for the Emerging Director in Europe
: 3. Conversations
Facing the Audience: Strategies for European Directors & Theatremakers
Directing Changes: Strategic Meeting of European Directors & Theatremakers
Staging Independence: Mutual Strategies for Directors & Theatremakers in Europe and the Arab World
Ensemble Theatre Conference Report 2004

(Live Media Events & Initiatives: Author: Karen Johnson 2007)

* Most of these reports will be made available on this website over time.

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