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Warner Bros. Names First Five Participants in Emerging Directors Workshop (EXCLUSIVE)

Warner Bros. has selected the first five participants in its newly launched Emerging Film Directors Workshop.

The program, which has been in the works for several years, is aimed at serving as a talent incubator designed to give access and voice to new and underrepresented talent via a seven-month fellowship with the opportunity to showcase their work. Greg Silverman, the president of creative development and worldwide production, made the announcement Tuesday.

“We’re very excited about the filmmakers we’ve selected for our inaugural Directors Workshop,” said Silverman. “Each of these candidates has a unique background, point of view, and aspiration. They’ve already shown immense talent and passion for filmmaking and we can’t wait to help them further develop their skills, get exposure for their work and advance their careers.”

Starting in December, participants will work through the entire film production process, from pitch to final cut and premiere. Julia Spiro, VP of Production, and production exec Jon Gonda will serve as mentors and industry liaisons for the group.

Each of these filmmakers will create their own original short film with a budget of $100,000 through a process that mimics Warner Bros. Pictures’ feature process from beginning to end, including script development, full prep, a shoot on the historic Warner Bros.  lot, and full post production.

Workshop participants have the option to develop their story idea and write it themselves or work with a screenwriter, which Korycinski is opting to do. The program will culminate with a film festival held at Warner Bros. in June 2017, where the participants will premiere their films for exposure to agents, managers and industry professionals.

There were over 5,000 applicants to the Emerging Film Directors Workshop, with each applicant submitting their idea for short film.

Silverman told Variety that the workshop is aimed at building on the studio’s three-year-old efforts to team with the Black List to find new and diverse writers. Warner Bros. has also been attempting to make certain its casts are as diverse as possible, he added.

“We were pretty successful in that on ‘Suicide Squad,'” Silverman noted.

The participants:

— Kristin Burke, who has worked as a movie costume designer for 25 years, working on such movies as New Line’s “The Conjuring.”  Burke has written, directed, edited, and produced three original short films.

— Justin Floyd, a graduate of Fullerton College and the Inner City Filmmakers program. The Los Angeles native has worked as a production assistant on “Fast & Furious 8” and “Sinister 2,” and written, produced and directed four short films.

— Alexis Korycinski, a Syracuse University graduate who spent her first few years after college producing documentaries and directed her own in 2011. She has also directed and produced three original narrative short films. In 2014, she participated in the AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and she’s also a participant in the Ryan Murphy Television Half Foundation’s mentorship program, through which she’s shadowed directors on shows such as “American Horror Story.”

— Elaine Mongeon, who is from Nantucket, Mass. After attending Boston University, she moved to Los Angeles and eventually became the assistant to director Greg Jacobs, working with him on nine different films.

— Xu Zhang, who grew up in southern China, where she attended the Zhejiang University.  She earned her MFA in Film & TV Production at University of Southern California, during which time she worked on more than 20 short films, directing several of them.

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