Launched in 2001 the Disney | ABC Directing Program is one of the longest-running programs of its kind in the television industry. The two-season program has launched the episodic careers of several directors including Seith Mann (The Walking Dead, Elementary), Zetna Fuentes (Grey’s Anatomy, Jane the Virgin) Nzingha Stewart (The Fosters, Pretty Little Liars) and Susan Vaill (Grey’s Anatomy).
In addition to possessing the right skillset to direct television, it is imperative to develop strong and lasting relationships with industry decision makers. Participating directors have secured a number of directing assignments on series such as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal; ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and The Fosters; and Disney Channel’s K.C. Undercover.
With the support of nearly 30 DATG live-action series, the directing program has attracted an array of professionals with varying backgrounds including Assistant Directors, grips, music video directors, commercial directors, actors such as Regina King (Southland) and Kimberly McCullough (General Hospital), as well as award-winning feature director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station).
"The Disney | ABC Directing Program has taught me what I didn't know about the 'business' of television directing. It has exposed me to an impressive, inspiring group of industry professionals and provided opportunities to promote myself, as a director, in television executive offices as well as on set."
About the Directing Program
The two-year professional directing program, which spans two television seasons based upon ABC’s production calendar, recruits experienced directors on the cusp of making the transition into episodic directing. The primary goal of this program is to afford Program Directors access to develop relationships with DATG executives and productions. Those selected to participate in the program become part of the Disney | ABC Directing Program directing talent pool. DATG executives, executive producers and/or producing episodic directors select individuals to shadow on an episode or episodes of produced television. Shadowing assignments are not guaranteed; however, if an assignment is secured, the program director will shadow production and shooting. Observing post-production is solely at the discretion of producers. Drama assignments typically run three or more weeks, and comedy assignments usually run one to two weeks. Directors on shadowing assignments will receive a paid stipend in the amount of $950.00 per week when actively shadowing on any aspect of a production. The duration of an individual's participation is at the discretion of DATG executives, executive producers and/or episodic directors.
Applicants must be able to legally work in the United States and be at least 21 years of age. Material must be directed by a single director. Material directed by directing teams will not be accepted. Previous professional experience working in television production is strongly preferred, but not required. Past participants who entered the program with television production experience (e.g. acting, assistant directing, etc.) have found that knowledge beneficial in connecting with executives, producers, and production teams. Those applying must submit a completed application and the following.
1) Five (5) DVD copies of a single project directed solely by the applicant within the last three (3) calendar years. Material directed by directing teams will not be accepted. Material should be packaged in a protective case or sleeve. Do not provide DVD’s in shrink wrap.
2) Completed application.
3) Required release form and notarized legal documentation.
4) Résumé A detailed summary of employment history for the past ten (10) years. Applicants can list projects officially selected at major film festivals but please exclude the following: independent feature projects that were not distributed by a major production studio; and/or television projects that have not been broadcast on network, cable or streaming service.
5) Essay (Limited to one page): Please refer to the detailed application instructions made availableduring the open submission period for the essay question. The application essay question may vary each submission period.
6) Letters of recommendation (These letters are encouraged but not required).
- Two letters maximum, signed and dated, from film and television professionals who have viewed and can comment on the applicant’s strengths as a director. This would include network, studio and production executives, writers/producers, episodic and feature directors and educators (e.g., professors) who have film or television experience and/or produced credits. Letters from representatives (e.g., agents, managers or attorneys) will not be accepted. Letters must be on either corporate or personal letterhead with a name, contact information, and dated in the current calendar year. It is recommended that those signing recommendation letters include either a title or a brief introduction indicating their position or affiliation.
- Recommendation letters must be included with your application and not sent separately or electronically. Any letters sent separately or electronically will not be admitted or incorporated into the applicant’s submission packet.
DO NOT USE STAPLES, PAPERCLIPS OR FOLDERS OF ANY TYPE WHEN SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS. Submission envelopes should only contain the above listed items. Submissions received without elements 1-5 will be disqualified and destroyed.
WHEN TO APPLY
The submission period opens in October of odd calendar years. Specific dates vary from year to year. Follow us on Facebook to receive updates and alerts about the submission period.
HOW TO APPLY
Visit this website during the submission period to obtain the application and instructions. The application is only available during the open submission period. Applications will not be accepted prior to the submission period opening date and submissions MUST be postmarked no later than 11:59 pm on the designated deadline date. You are not required to send your application via registered mail or through a courier service, however it is recommended for tracking purposes to ensure proof of delivery. Due to the high volume of submissions received, we are unable to confirm receipt of any application submitted.
We prefer that applicants submit a single body of work featuring a linear storyline with a clear beginning, middle and end. Material should tonally translate to the type of programming broadcast on DATG. Qualifying bodies of work include, but are not limited to: television pilots; episodic series; feature films; and short films. Compilation clip reels are accepted, but not recommended. Rough cuts, directing reels, commercial reels, animation and/or stage productions will not be accepted. All submissions must be final, sweetened cuts. The extensive criteria for judging material includes: execution of storytelling; originality; shot selections; talent performances; and overall production value. All submitted material will be destroyed after the evaluation process.
Due to the volume of submissions received, those not accepted will not be notified. Please check our Facebook page for announcements regarding individuals selected to join the directing talent pool. Typically directors are selected no later than the end of June; however selection timelines may vary year to year.