Director Development Initiative workshop

Director Development Initiative Hosts Day-Long Workshop

November 10, 2018 A DDI Event in Los Angeles

DGA members looking for ways to improve and help themselves get ready for their next episodic job, gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters on November 10 for the DGA Director Development Initiative’s multi-part career workshop. The day-long event was split into a morning session and an afternoon session, both of which featured panel discussions and breakout groups that covered the subjects of Getting the Job and Getting Asked Back.

The morning began with a welcome from DGA Executive in Charge of Diversity Programs and Committees, Frank Bennett Gonzalez, who broke down how the day would proceed. Then the first session began with the panel discussion “Get the Job” that featured Directors Daniella Eisman, Jessica Lowrey, Michael M. Robin, Jude Weng and Andy Wolk. In a conversation moderated by Director Mary Lou Belli, the panelists explored how directors can put their best foot forward to jumpstart their careers. The discussion was followed by the attendees splitting into breakout groups where they received up close and personal attention from the veteran directors. Following a short break, the morning session continued with another panel discussion, “Get Asked Back” where the veteran directors spoke about how to establish lasting relationships with those empowered to continue to hire you. Again, the panel discussion was followed-up with breakout groups where the attendees had a chance to take dry runs at putting into practice some of the information disseminated during the discussions.

The afternoon sessions followed a similar path with the “Get the Job” and “Get Asked Back” panel discussions with Directors Kabir Akhtar and Valerie Weiss, joining Daniella Eisman, Jessica Lowrey and Andy Wolk on the panel moderated by Director Rob J. Greenlea. Once again each of the discussions were complemented by breakout groups where theory was put into practice.

The Director Development Initiative Lab series is designed to provide current information on the Director’s craft in order to further the Guild’s mission to increase the diversity of the industry and this event featured veteran Directors and other industry professionals teaching the participants how to navigate a career as an episodic television director and key strategies for networking.


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Kabir AkhtarKabir Akhtar
Kabir Akhtar is an Emmy-winning director-editor whose work includes Arrested Development, New Girl, the pilot episode of 8th & Ocean and the relaunched edition of Unsolved Mysteries. He is currently a director/producer on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. A three-time Emmy nominee, Akhtar won the award in 2016 for editing the pilot of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He has been a DGA member since 2005 and previously served as a Co-Chair of the Asian American Committee.

Mary Lou BelliMary Lou Belli (moderator)
A two-time Emmy Award-winning director with over twenty years of experience, Mary Lou Belli’s credits include Station 19; NCIS: New Orleans; Pitch; Monk; Famous In Love; Devious Maids; The Quad; American Woman; Hart of Dixie; Wizards of Waverly Place; Sister, Sister; Girlfriends and The Game. She Co-Chairs the Women’s Steering Committee, serves on the PAC Leadership Council and is an Alternate on the Western Directors Council. Belli has been a DGA member since 1987.


Daniella Eisman Daniella Eisman
A graduate of the inaugural DDI Mentorship Program, Daniella Eisman has directed multiple episodes of The Mindy Project and recently directed an episode of Superstore. Her other directing credits include multiple episodes of MTV-turned-Facebook comedy, Loosely Exactly Nicole and the short film, Mr. Maple Leaf. A DGA member since 2005, she also has extensive on-set experience as a 1st AD on various shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Medium, Mistresses, Growing Up Fisher, Getting On, Hawthorne and Powerless.

Rob J. Greenlea Rob J. Greenlea (moderator)
Rob J. Greenlea began his career in entertainment as a child actor and in various production jobs in commercials, music videos, feature films and television before writing, directing and starring in his short film, The Cloth. A graduate of the the Disney/ABC Diversity Talent and Development Directing Program, he began working exclusively as a director and made his directorial debut with an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in 2013. He has since gone on to direct episodes of Madam Secretary; Revenge; Stitchers; Secrets and Lies; Greenleaf; The Catch; NCIS: New Orleans; Code Black; Doubt; Supergirl; S.W.A.T.; The Flash; Midnight, Texas and The Resident. Greenlea joined the DGA in 2012.


Jessica Lowrey Jessica Lowrey
Jessica Lowrey is an alumnus of the DGA Director Development Initiative mentorship program as well as the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program. A DGA member since 2005, before beginning her directing career, she gained extensive experience as an Assistant Director on multiple series including Ballers, Mad Men and The Santa Clarita Diet. Her directing credits include episodes of the YouTube Premium series Step Up: Highwater; Paramount Network’s Heathers; USA’s Shooter and the upcoming Fox drama The Passage. She is slated to direct an episode of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead this winter.


Michael M. Robin Michael M. Robin
A DGA member since 1990, Michael M. Robin began his career as a production assistant on the hit series L.A. Law, where he worked his way up to producer in the fourth season. Since making his directorial debut on the series Cop Rock, he has gone on to direct thirteen drama pilots, including pilots for C-16, The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, Dallas, Major Crimes and Valor. In 1993, Robin earned an Emmy Award nomination for his direction of the “Guns 'N Rosaries” episode of NYPD Blue.


Valerie Weiss Valerie Weiss
Valerie Weiss made her feature film directorial debut with Losing Control in 2011 and followed up with the features A Light Beneath Their Feet (2015) and The Archer (2017). Her television directing credits include episodes of How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, For the People, Chicago Med, Suits, The Librarians, Chicago PD and Impulse. An alumnus of the AFI DWW Program and a participant in the DGA Director Development Initiative, Weiss joined the DGA in 2016.


Jude WengJude Weng
Jude Weng’s credits include both network and cable shows such as NBC’s The Good Place, ABC’s Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat, CBS’ Life in Pieces, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and HBO’s Crashing. She is an alumnus of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, the ABC-Disney Directing Fellowship, the Warner Brothers Directing Program and the HBO Writing Fellowship. Weng joined the DGA in 2015.


Andy Wolk Andy Wolk
Andy Wolk earned two DGA Award nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs for Lincoln Heights. His directing credits include The Sopranos, Damages, The Practice, Seal Team, Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, Ugly Betty, Unforgettable, Rizzoli and Isles, Criminal Minds and Gossip Girl. He also directed the pilot, Arliss. He wrote and directed TV movies: Criminal Justice, Deliberate Intent, The Defenders: Payback, The Defenders: Choice of Evils and The Defenders: Taking the First and directed When Angels Come to Town, Finding John Christmas, The Christmas Shoes and A Town Without Christmas. Wolk joined the DGA in 1990.

About the Director Development Initiative:

The Director Development Initiative is designed to provide current information on the Director’s craft in order to further the Guild’s mission to increase the diversity of the industry.


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