Are you a brilliant new director? Then you might want to enter this…

D&AD’s Next Director Award aims to discover and showcase the next generation of talented directors from around the world. This year’s awards is chaired by Great Guns chairman and exec producer Laura Gregory: we checked in with her about what advice she would give to aspiring directors today, and what she is looking forward to seeing in the entries this year…

CR: What qualities would you look for in a young director? What do they need in order to succeed?

LG: Stamina and sheer determination. The ability to perform miracles and not accept anything other than the best. Don’t spend hard-earned cash on anything less. We look at the work they have chosen to put their efforts and their time into bringing to life and what they feel is their best work to present for the D&AD Next Director. The jury on Next Director is kinder than most because they know they are judging talent that is new to directing and every piece of work is watched in its entirety; often two or three times.

Mayokero by Vania Heymann, winner of the 2015 Next Director Award

Bitch in Heat by Anna Carpen, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

#ViolenceIsViolence by David Stoddart, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

CR: How would you recommend young directors show their work – do you still need a ‘reel’ for example, or is it enough to put it on a website? What about using sites such as Vimeo and YouTube?

LG: A well-curated YouTube or Vimeo page is best, or your personal website. I will search for a director whose work I like on Google, to see if they have a YouTube page or any other presentation platform. This is to see what work they’ve been doing, or what they say about themselves and how they edit their own output. The portal you choose to present your collection of work, your thoughts, photographs, and films, is a picture of who you are and what you believe in and what you understand. If it’s messy, it means you don’t care, or you don’t pay attention to detail. If you’ve thrown every piece of work you’ve ever done, be it film or photographic, onto the page, it means you don’t have a quality filter, or you don’t understand the process of refinement required on every facet of a project that lives online or on air. This is your biggest sales tool, but it can also be your downfall if you don’t curate what you want everyone to see.

GAWDS by Christine Yuan, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

MeTube: August sings Carmen ‘Habanera’ by Daniel Moshel, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

Alan Moore by Emile Rafael, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

CR: Is it necessary for a director to have a formal training today or can successful directors be entirely self-taught?

LG: Anyone can direct if they really want to. Some kids are lucky enough to be born into the business through family, some can afford film school and some just watch movies and start making them. Everything you need to know is online. There are no class barriers, no money barriers; you can shoot on a phone if you have to. For inspiration, look at ‘Tangerine’, the 2015 transgender comedy-drama shot on an iPhone, directed by Sean S Baker.

CR: Should a director specialise in a particular genre – e.g. Comedy – or is it better for a young director to be an all-rounder at this stage of their career?

LG: A director has a vision. It’s rare that it’s an all-round vision. Most new directors know what story they want to tell. I would advise you to let your heart tell you what’s original and different about your point of view, and stick with that belief.

Phantom Limb by Alex Grigg, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

Get Better Boss by Henry Kaplan, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

CR: Are there any particular trends you are seeing in the direction of commercials and music videos at the moment?

LG: If you’re asking about the cream, it’s high visuals and beautifully written comedy.

CR: What are you hoping to see in the entries for the Global Next Director Award?

LG: Brilliance like last year, surprise us!

Sister by Will Holland, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

Something Important by Nai Wei Liu, shortlisted for the 2015 Next Director Award

The Next Director Award is open to filmmakers who have had less than two years’ industry experience. The deadline for entries has just been extended, and is now March 11. Full details on how to enter can be found on the D&AD website here.

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