A Look at the Commercial Diversity Development Program


November 18, 2019

For many years, the DGA sought to establish a program that would develop and promote diverse directing talent in commercial advertising. That idea became a reality during the 2014 negotiations between the Guild and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers and as part of the National Commercial Agreement, the Commercial Director Diversity Program was created. Its mission reflects the commitment of both organizations to effect change and increase the representation of minority and women directors in the business of commercials.

Modeled after other successful diversity development programs, the CDDP selects five to six participants, known as Fellows, from hundreds of qualified applicants. Each Fellow is then assigned to a DGA-signatory production company which serves as a mentoring company. Over the course of six months, the Fellows take part in a program that consists of exposure and experience through one-to-one interactions with their mentoring companies and engaging in a series of 14 workshops that describe and define the process of pitching/shooting/finishing spots and branded content films. During this period, the Fellows also get a close-up view of the job by shadowing DGA commercial directors on the set, then eventually creating their own spec commercial underwritten by $15K grant provided by the CDDP. The program concludes with an industry showcase where AICP companies, who are signatories of the National Commercial Agreement, are invited to view the finished commercials and meet this new pool of commercial directors. The entire program is funded by contributions from commercial producers signatory to the DGA National Commercial Agreement.

Elle GinterAlthough still early in its development, the program already has its success stories — one of them being DGA Director Elle Ginter. Ginter was a member of the CDDP’s freshman class. Now on the roster at Sanctuary Content, Ginter credits the program with the start of her career.

“Entering the CDDP became a catalyst for reaching out to companies who may otherwise have missed or dismissed my work simply because of the saturation of new directors in the field,” said Ginter. “I feel it lends credibility and confidence to the directors featured based on the judges, companies and mentors involved in the decision process of who makes it in. More than anything, young directors need homes that support and develop their voices — it’s extremely hard to find, but the CDDP challenges its participants to step up to the plate at a higher level, and at the very least, ensure that directors become aware of where they must grow to achieve consistent work and branding.”

After joining the Guild in 2018, Ginter went on to direct spots for Nike, Comcast, Pampers and Human Rights Watch and won an AICP award this year for her McDonald’s commercial “The Flip.”

Since the program’s inception in 2017, the number of applicants has grown to over three hundred people who all seek an opportunity to be selected. DGA members have also been instrumental in assuring the program’s success by volunteering their services as Directors to lead workshops and as ADs on the production of the CDDP spec spots.

The 2019 program recently wrapped with their annual showcase where directing fellows Dominique DeLeon, Jane Qian, Sofia Garza-Barba, Vanessa Black and Christopher Nataanii Cegielski debuted their spec spots along with behind the scenes footage. After the viewing, the fellows participated in a panel discussion with DGA Director-member Kim Nguyen.

The application period for the 2020 program is currently underway.
The entry deadline for submissions is Tuesday, December 31, 2019.
For more information about the CDDP please visit www.cddprogram.org