- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
ViacomCBS has made a major expansion to its development program for TV directors from underrepresented backgrounds.
The third annual ViewFinder Emerging Directors Program is doubling in length to a two-year curriculum, during which the participants will receive mentorship from network and creative executives at the company and shadow TV directors on scripted and unscripted ViacomCBS shows. ViewFinder also will provide them with an undisclosed amount of monetary support to help develop and produce their projects.
“The mission of our ViewFinder Emerging Directors Program is to champion the next generation of storytellers and provide them the opportunity to hone their craft, connect to our extensive network of creative executives and bring their unique voices and experiences to the world of television,” ViacomCBS global head of inclusion Marva Smalls said in a statement. “That’s why we’re excited to expand the program to two years, beginning with this 2021-23 class, and deepen our opportunity to nurture these talented voices in our industry.”
ViewFinder alumni have directed episodes of Boomerang, Danger Force, Tales and The L Word: Generation Q. Applications for the next class, to be announced in 2023, will open this fall.
Six directors were selected from more than 330 applicants to form the current 2021-23 ViewFinder class:
Andrew Reid (Paramount Television Studios)
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Reid is a DGA Award-winning director and recent graduate from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His award-winning projects have screened at Slamdance, CAA Moebius, Paramount Pictures, HollyShorts, LA Shorts and over 40 other film festivals worldwide. He was a director in the 2020 class of Film Independent’s Project Involve and RespectAbility Summer Lab program and is a recipient of the Easterseals Disability Services Fellowship. Reid is represented by APA.
Parisa Barani (Paramount Network)
The award-winning Iranian American Canadian film director is slated to direct the upcoming features Haram and Haji and is in development for another feature based on Jennifer Blackmer’s play Human Terrain. Barani’s directorial debut Ablution screened at festivals worldwide, including Mill Valley Film Festival, Palm Springs International ShortFest and Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. She is a participant of the 2019/2021 Universal Directors Initiative and 2021 Creative Capital’s On Our Radar, as well as a recipient of the 2016 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Grant and a grant from Neda Nobari Foundation. Barani has been shortlisted and a semi-finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, Sony Pictures’ Television Diversity Program, NBCUniversal’s Female Forward/Emerging Director program and the Creative Capital Award. She’s a graduate of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and SITI’s Theatre Intensive Training at Skidmore College.
Soma Helmi (AwesomenessTV)
Born to an Indonesian father and a Polish mother, the Bali native began her career as an art director for J. Walter Thompson in Jakarta and later worked as a creative assistant on Catherine Hardwicke’s Quibi Series Don’t Look Deeper. Helmi directed all 20 episodes of Season 3 of Snapchat’s original series The Dead Girls Detective Agency, and her work has screened at Sundance, Outfest and Amazon’s New Voices Film Festival, among many others. Named one of the “eight directors to watch” by the Alliance of Women Directors, she was a participant in Blackmagic Collective’s Future Women of TV 2020 initiative before going on to create and become program director for Blackmagic’s Breakthrough Initiative for BIPOC TV writers and directors.
Tiffany Kontoyiannis-Guillen (Paramount Television Studios)
The Latina writer, director and producer is a Miami Herald Silver Knight winner, DGA winner, Student Emmy nominee and HBO semi-finalist. Most recently, her short film Welcome Back won at several major festivals, including HollyShorts for Best Live Action Short. Guillen is a Barnard College of Columbia University graduate and earned her master’s degree in film production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she was selected to co-direct Voodoo Macbeth. She is represented by Gersh and Rafterman Media.
Tyler Davis (Comedy Central)
A director, actor and musician in Los Angeles by way of Chicago, Davis co-wrote and performed in the 2020 ViacomCBS Showcase and worked as a producer, editor, writer and director of photography for 2021. In Chicago, he co-wrote and starred in two main stage sketch comedy revues with The Second City, created online sketches for Comedy Central, and self-directed and starred in sketches for TOPIC. His work has been featured in Adweek and Cedric the Entertainer’s The Greatest At Home Videos. He is currently a production consultant and co-star on the Showtime series Work In Progress and is developing an original comedic superhero series with his writing partner. As an actor, Davis is repped by DPN Talent in L.A., Grossman & Jack Talent in Chicago and El Centro Management. He is a commercial director with TESSA Films and is seeking representation for narrative directing.
Xavier Burgin (BET)
Hailing from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, the writer/director received a Daytime Emmy nomination for his work on Giants, a TVOne series. He also directed AMC Network’s Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror and Adult Swim’s Juneteenth With Open Mike Eagle. A Sundance Fellow, HBO alumnus, Ryan Murphy Directing Fellow, Berlinale Talent and Student Academy Award semi-finalist, Burgin has written for Amazon Studios and the Discovery Channel and has placed in the Academy Nicholl Fellowship’s Top 50. A storyteller from the Deep South, he aims to create adventure, legend, and myth – the type of worlds his younger self dreamed about in the rural heat.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day