On August 20, 14 directors recently selected for the Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Fellowship Program gathered at Guild headquarters in Los Angeles for an orientation session. The goal of the fellowship program is to increase diversity among Directors in television. The fellows observe, consult and are mentored by select directors on ABC episodic television series. The goal of the event was to expose them to the DGA and the support the crew provides.
Following lunch and the opportunity to network with DGA members, the fellows were welcomed to the orientation by Disney/ABC Television Group Vice President of Talent Development & Diversity Tim McNeal, DGA Associate National Executive Director/Western Executive Director Bryan Unger, and DGA Assistant Executive Director Regina Render. The attendees then were the beneficiaries of years of onset experience from a series of speakers that included DGA First Vice-President and award-winning director Paris Barclay whose work includes NYPD Blue, City of Angels, Sons of Anarchy and Glee; award-winning director Mary Lou Belli who has over 125 episodes to her credit for series such as Girlfriends, One on One, Reed Between the Lines, and The Game; UPM Sara Fischer whose resume includes Knight Rider, Off the Map, Hawthorne, The L Word, and who currently works at ABC Studios as Vice-President of Production; and 1st AD Tim Engle whose work includes the feature films 50 First Dates, Anger Management, and The Longest Yard, and the television series Tell Me You Love Me, Weeds, Happy Endings, and House of Lies. Each speaker talked about their respective job duties, how they interface with other members of the set, and proper set etiquette.
After the individual sessions, the room was opened up to a Q&A session where the speakers were joined by director Zetna Fuentes, a graduate of the 2010 program whose credits include Pretty Little Liars, Guiding Light and One Life to Live.
There was also a DVD presentation of The Art of Shadowing, a short about how to make the most of your time on a set with an experienced director and crew. As the majority of the selected fellows have little or no television set experience, shadowing the director creates opportunities for them to learn different creative approaches and provides access to television executives.
Launched in 2001, the Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Program is one of the longest running programs of its kind in the entertainment industry. For more information, click here to visit the diversity page.