Some of the most successful names in the British film industry are helping lead a 4,000 strong body representing the interests of UK directors.

Directors UK brings together film, television and new media directors for the first timeto offer one voice on a wide range of issues.

The immediate priorities are concentrated on improving the position of directors in television, which has been the launchpad in the UK for work in feature films.

In recent years, there has been considerable concern about reduced fees, a risk-averse culture and a loss of the creative freedom on which the country's global reputation for drama has been founded.

But the group's president, Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass, stressed that Directors UK's role was constructive.

'We are not a trade union stuck in 70s thinking. In film, for example, we need to work in partnership with theBritish Film Institute and the UK Film Council.'

The work would include lobbying television companies and government about its members interests but it was not intended to be a British version of the powerful Directors Guildof America (DGA), he said.

'We did have some big issues in the television industry, where there has been some erosion of status but wewill also focus on training and support of emerging directors and on the amazing heritage of British film.'

Charles Sturridge (Brideshead Revisited) who chairs the organisation said Directors UK is launched at a critical time for both film and television.

'This is a time of revolutionary change. Over the past few years we have seen a decline in both the creative and economic rights of the director.'

In television, he said, there was particular need for a body with a clear lobbying voice.

'There's no cause for pessimism about creativity in the UK but we do need to argue and fight when the creative process is inhibited by mismanagement and wrong judgement.'

One of the most immediate benefits of the group will beimprovement in communication between a verysuccessfulgeneration of British directors.

'We don't really get to meet very often and this will be a chance to stay in touch,' Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham) told ScreenDaily at the London launch of the organisation.