CBS has announced the four participants chosen for its 2019-2020 Directors Initiative.
The initiative, which is now in its 16th year, aims to provide a platform for experienced directors to gain access to showrunners, execs, managers and agents, as well as shadowing network and TV studio shows at CBS throughout the year.
This year’s participants are Shaz Bennett, who was formerly a film programmer at Sundance, the L.A. Film Festival and AFI Fest, Jill D’Agnenica, who recently directed her first episode of TV for Freeform’s “Switched at Birth,” Leena Pendharkar, whose sophomore feature “20 Weeks” premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Ian Truitner, whose first feature film “Cutting Room” was one of the early movies to appear Netflix’s streaming platform.
“The access provided through our Directors Initiative gives television directors valuable first-hand exposure to the CBS Television Network’s episodic directing process,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, executive vice president of entertainment diversity, inclusion and communications at CBS Entertainment. “Our participants spend quality time on set and begin fostering constructive connections with showrunners, producers and executives with the objective of cultivating relationships that enable them to be considered for employment…The success of this initiative has created a growing community of support, where past participants, who are now in positions of influence, are mentoring and hiring current participants.”
Last year’s participants went on to direct episodes of “God Friended Me,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Bull,” and “Dynasty” after leaving the program.