Sony Pictures Television has announced its Diverse Directors Program, a Los Angeles-based initiative targeted at providing opportunities for highly qualified candidates to shadow established TV helmers on episodes of 30-minute and hourlong scripted series.

“This program continues our commitment to diversity at SPT,” SPT prexy Steve Mosko said in a statement. “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.”

Paul Martin, senior VP and chief diversity officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment, added, “This program reflects Sony Pictures’ on-going 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. 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.”

Candidates can submit an online application from May 23 through June 6 or until 500 applications are received. Applicants must also provide one completed example of a past directing project and letters of recommendation from entertainment industry bizzers and participate in an interview.

The field will then be narrowed to 20 semi-finalists who will take part in an intensive episodic directing workshop and attend networking events. The workshop begins in June on the Sony Lot in Culver City and consists of six evenings of discussion and instruction from working directors, production personnel and entertainment professionals.

Ultimately, three finalists will be chosen for the program and be able shadow the participating TV directors beginning in August. Each finalist will receive a weekly stipend when actively shadowing and may also have the opportunity to return to direct an episode of a scripted SPT series for the next season.

“We are encouraged by SPT’s commitment to increasing diversity,” said Frank Gonzalez, assistant executive director of diversity at the DGA. “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.”