HBO Announces Top 25 Semi-Finalists For The 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship

HBO has selected the top twenty-five emerging directors for the semi-final round of the 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship. The program supports directors who are interested in a career in television by giving them the opportunity to shoot a pilot presentation which will air on HBO, HBO GO, HBO NOW and HBO Max.

The application portal, which opened in February, accepted over 1,500 submissions. Directing fellows selected for the program typically take part in a series of master classes delivered by industry professionals which culminates into the production of a pilot presentation working with scripts from the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The goal is to prepare and position each director to helm their first episode of television.

However, due to the current disruption from COVID-19, the program will undergo some changes. “In light of the current gathering restrictions, we have made some exciting adjustments on how we are reimagining this program for 2020 and 2021,” said Kelly Edwards, Senior Vice President of Talent Development, WarnerMedia Entertainment. “With production temporarily halted, the program will be pivoting to a virtual workshop until restrictions are lifted. This will give us the opportunity to expand the program to include a larger class. Instead of three participants, we will invite up to ten finalists to participate in this year’s program. By delaying the selection of our 3 fellows to spring of 2021, we can accomplish two things at once – extending the opportunity to take part in the workshop to more candidates, and also allowing for more flexibility as things play out with regard to production.”

The 25 semi-finalists include: Juan Pablo Arias Muñoz, Brandon Broussard, Emil Gallardo, Devin E. Haqq, Tarik Jackson, Tiffany Kontoyiannis Guillen, Erin Lau, Huay-Bing Law, LeRon Lee, Denise Moreno, Afia Nathaniel, Faraday Okoro, Lanre Olabisi, Solomon Onita Jr., Rammy Park, Jessica Petelle, Eric Pumphrey, Aemilia Scott, Sarah Smith, Portlynn Tagavi, Sabina Vajrača, Zao Wang, Ashley Williams, Marielle Woods, and Hao Zheng.

Candidates advancing to the final round will be notified on June 1st. 

The HBOAccess Writing and Directing fellowships alternate each year. Submissions for the 2021 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship will open on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 through FilmFreeway.

Held in even calendar years, the HBOAccess Directing Fellowship selects 3 candidates to participate in a biennial program designed to foster diverse directing talent. The program includes a series of master classes which lead into the production of a pilot presentation. Instructed by industry professionals and mentored by HBO, HBOMax, and Turner executives, the program covers a variety of subjects ranging from the creative elements of telling a story through film and working with actors, to the technical aspects of production and post. Upon completion of the workshop the fellows are then given a budget and crew to direct a short presentation allowing them full immersion in a true industry production. Every directing fellow is given the opportunity to shadow an HBO, Turner, or HBOMax series. Silicon Valley, VEEP, Perry Mason, Deadwood, Ballers, and Insecure are just a few of the series which have participated in the program. Pilot presentations from this program have gone on to screen at SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival, Seriesfest, and a host of other premiere festivals around the country and garnered multiple awards. The 2014, 2016, and 2018 presentations currently air on all HBO platforms.

Alternating with the Directing Fellowship and held in odd calendar years, the HBOAccess Writing fellowship is a year-long program which kicks off with a master class intensive covering story structure, character development, securing representation, as well as other topics to help the fellows succeed in the industry. Following the workshop, participants are mentored by HBO creative executives as they develop a full-length pilot script. The scripts are then optioned for consideration for the directing program.