Director Development Initiative interactive lab, The Sell: Personal Branding, Social Media and Strategic Networking

The Sell: Personal Branding, Social Media and Strategic Networking

April 30, 2019 A DGA Director Development Initiative interactive lab in Los Angeles

DGA members seeking ways to better prepare for their next episodic directing assignment gathered at the Guild headquarters on April 30 for the DGA Director Development Initiative’s (DDI) first interactive lab in Los Angeles for 2019. The Sell: Personal Branding, Social Media and Strategic Networking provided an opportunity for the participants to learn how to take advantage of the tools available in the digital age and how to become their own best advocates by strengthening their personal brands and by raising their profiles online and in social media.

Following a welcome by DGA Executive in Charge of Diversity Programs and Committees Frank Bennett Gonzalez, DGA Diversity Task Force Co-Chair Bethany Rooney (Bull) gave breakdown of how the lab would proceed. Then the lab kicked off with a panel discussion with DGA Diversity Task Force Co-Chair Todd Holland (Hannah [and her Family]), Agent Sean Barclay (The Gersh Agency), Consultant Brian Rodda (Brian Rodda Consulting) and Manager Lucy Stutz (Rain Management). In a conversation moderated by Rooney, the panelists explored subjects including: tailoring your director’s reel for the job you want, getting your unique voice across, and how social media can impact your brand.

Following the panel discussion, the lab’s attendees participated in a reel review interactive session where they were able to receive personalized feedback on their clip reels from the panelists and VIP guests: Directors Kabir Akhtar (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jaffar Mahmood (Young Sheldon), Edward Ornelas (NCIS: New Orleans) and David Rodriguez (Queen of the South) and Agents Michael Kolodny (Kaplan Stahler Agency) and Gina M. Reyes (Verve Talent & Literary Agency). Rodda also led a discussion about social media as a useful tool for furthering one’s branding and the importance of establishing an online presence on various digital platforms to add to your marketability.

You can watch video highlights from the discussion in the gallery below.
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Director Bethany Rooney Director Bethany Rooney (moderator)
Rooney has directed over 220 episodes of primetime network television over the past thirty years and is still amazingly enthusiastic about the creative process and the craft! She has expanded her visibility in the business, moving from freelance director (NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Blacklist) to producer/director (The Originals, Bull) She is sharing her hard-earned knowledge and giving back, especially to incoming directors, by teaching the Warner Brothers TV Directors Workshop and co-chairing the DGA Diversity Committee. Along with her Co-Chair, Todd Holland, Rooney has created, developed and now oversees the Directors Development Initiative, the training and networking program for new directors at the DGA. The directing textbook she co-wrote with Mary Lou Belli, Directors Tell the Story: Master the Craft of Television and Film Directing, remains the preeminent resource for episodic directors and is in wide use in studio diversity programs and university classes. A DGA member since 1985, Rooney formerly served as a Co-Chair of the Guild’s Women’s Steering Committee and is currently member of the Western Directors Council, an alternate on the DGA National Board and a Co-Chair of the DGA Diversity Task Force.

Director Todd HollandDirector Todd Holland
A DGA member since 1986, Holland broke into the industry after Steven Spielberg saw his short film, Chicken Thing, and hired him to write and direct for the series Amazing Stories. Since that start, he has directed three feature films and more than 200 episodes of television spanning the gamut of genres from dramas like Twin Peaks, My So Called Life, and Shameless to comedies like Tales of the Crypt, Friends and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt in comedy. His work has earned him three Emmy Awards and eight nominations; five CableAce Awards; a DGA award and six DGA nominations; and a WGA nomination. He was a key creative force behind The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and co-creator of Wonderfalls. His recent work includes executive producing and directing the pilots for the series The Real O’Neals and Furst Born and he just wrapped the ABC pilot Hannah [and Her Family]. Holland also serves as an alternate on the DGA National Board and has served on the Western Directors Council.


Director Kabir AkhtarDirector Kabir 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.


Director Jaffar MahmoodDirector Jaffar Mahmood
A DGA member since 2015, Mahmood made his feature directorial debut with the independent film, Shades of Ray. The success of the film landed him a spot in the 2010-2012 Disney/ABC DGA Directing Program, the 2011 NBC Director Fellowship, and the 2013 Warner Bros. Directors’ Workshop. He finally booked his first network television directing gig on NBC’s About a Boy and went on to helm episodes of Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Santa Clarita Diet, The Middle and The Real O’Neals. Mahmood is currently the producing director on Young Sheldon.

Edward OrnelasDirector Edward Ornelas
After several seasons as an editor on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Ornelas broke into directing by helming multiple episodes of both shows. His His directing credits also include episodes of: American Gothic, The Blacklist, Limitless, The Mentalist, NCIS: New Orleans, Rizzoli & Isles, Bull, Code Black, Taken, FBI, The Resident and Roswell, New Mexico; and the independent feature film, The Legend of Billy Fail. Ornelas has been a DGA member since 2009.

Director David RodriguezDirector David Rodriguez
Rodriguez has a wide-ranging variety of credits that include Power, What/If, Chicago Med, Queen of the South, Scandal, S.W.A.T., The Resident and the feature films Push, American Bully and Once Upon a Time in Queens. He served as Director and Co-Executive Producer on season one of Showtime’s The Chi and is currently the Director and Co-Executive Producer on TNT’s Animal Kingdom. A DGA member since 2009, Rodriguez has served as an alternate on the DGA Western Director’s Council and two terms as co-chair of the DGA Latino Committee.


Sean BarclayAgent Sean Barclay
Barclay is currently a Senior Vice President of Television at The Gersh Agency. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Barclay broke into the industry with a stint in the news business at ABC’s Boston affiliate. He later relocated to Los Angeles and has been with The Gersh Agency for almost fourteen years.

Agent Michael KolodnyAgent Michael Kolodny
Kolodny has been a literary agent at Kaplan Stahler Agency for the past three years. Previously, he was a manager at Fineman Entertainment. Michael moved to Kaplan Stahler after two years as a manager. Prior to Fineman Entertainment, he worked in development at ABC Network and Fox Television Studios.


Agent Gina M. Reyes Agent Gina M. Reyes
Reyes is a Television Lit Agent at Verve Talent & Literary Agency. She started her Hollywood career at International Creative Management talent agency and the production company, Ventanazul/MGM before landing at 20th Century Fox as a Creative Executive in feature film development before moving to television as Director for the Fox Writers Lab, Fox TV Directors Lab and the Fox/AFI Filmmakers Lab. She also served as Director of Content Development for Story House Entertainment/Univision and Vice President of Scripted Development for both film and television at Mitú.


Consultant Brian RoddaConsultant Brian Rodda
Rodda has vast experience in personal branding and viral marketing, having worked passionately with over 100 clients to launch their independently produced content online since 2007. In 2011, he founded Brian Rodda Consulting through which he has worked with notable web series. His web series, The Brian Rodda Show, which he also produced, was submitted for consideration for Outstanding Original Interactive Program for this year’s Emmy Awards.


Manager Lucy StutzManager Lucy Stutz
Stutz is a literary manager at Rain Management where she focuses on writers and directors in television, film and new media, with a particular emphasis on unique and underrepresented voices. She has been an agent at The Rothman Agency and the predecessor to Paradigm, Shorr-Stille & Associates. Stutz started her career as a programming executive at Showtime.

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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