Sony Pictures TV Launches Diverse Directors Program

The studio will select 20 from online submissions to participate in a workshop, with three finalists selected to shadow industry professionals.

The big push for diversity on TV is expanding behind the scenes.

Sony Pictures Television has launched a Diverse Directors Program in a bid to provide more opportunities for minorities to shadow industry professionals. Starting May 23 and t running through June 6, qualified candidates can apply for the program via its website. Applicants should also submit a single, completed example of a previous directing project as well as letters of recommendation.

"This program reflects Sony Pictures' ongoing mission to provide our divisions with the support needed to undertake initiatives that enrich the lives of our employees, our corporate extended families and our audiences," said Paul Martin, senior vp and chief diversity officer at SPE. "Diversity on all levels is a central focus to many of our programs, and we fully believe that the Diverse Directors Program will not only provide access and experience to a diverse group of potential directors, but will also become a key component of Sony Pictures' business strategy."

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Five-hundred applicants will be accepted and 20 semi-finalists will be selected to participate in an episodic directing workshop set to star in June on the Sony lot in Culver City. Curriculum will consist of six evenings and instruction from working directors, production and entertainment professionals.

Three finalists will be invited into the program and afforded the opportunity to shadow participating TV directors on various series and a weekly stipend, with the chance to be invited back to direct an episode of a scripted SPT series the following season. The director shadowing program begins in August.

"This program continues our commitment to diversity at SPT," SPT president Steve Mosko said. "The Diverse Directors Program will provide access and training to promising future directors and at the same time provide us with new, emerging talent behind the camera with various points of view."

"We are encouraged by SPT’s commitment to increasing diversity,” said Frank Gonzalez, assistant executive director of diversity at the Directors Guild of America.  “We hope that the launch of the new SPT Diverse Directors Program will result in a welcome and much-needed boost to director diversity in episodic television.”

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The SPT program comes after diversity was a major theme at the recently concluded broadcast network upfront presentations in New York. Of the more than 50 new series greenlit for the 2014-15 season, many revolve around minority families and feature race as a theme.