- LOS ANGELES
Five promising filmmaker fellows selected for the Commercial Directors Diversity Program (CDDP)--Sofia Garza-Barba, Vanessa Black, Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, Dominique DeLeon and Jane Qian--got the opportunity to showcase their talent last week during an industry screening of their spec work at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Pickford Building in Los Angeles.
The CDDP is the joint effort between the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) designed to increase the representation of women and ethnic minority directors specializing in commercials and marketing communications. Led by program director Tamika Lamison, the CDDP offers a six-month program consisting of workshops, mentorships, networking, shadowing, a grant to make a spec commercial, and an industry showcase to share the work. The goal of the program is to introduce directors to the commercial industry in the hopes that they will sign with AICP member companies and eventually join the DGA.
Each of the five CDDP fellows had a mentoring company, which also helped facilitate the creation of the spec work. The mentoring shops were Hungry Man (for CDDP fellow Garza-Barba), Knucklehead (for Qian), REVERIE (for Nataanii Cegielski), SMUGGLER (for DeLeon) and Spears & Arrows (for Black).
This marks the second year of the expanded CDDP program. Last year, five of the six CDDP directors wound up signing with an AICP production company. A previous iteration of the program saw two others join a production house. The progress made in securing marketplace representation for new directors, bringing more diversity to industry ranks, particularly last year, can be attributed in part to the increased depth and scope of the program, according to Matt Miller, AICP president and CEO.
“We found with the first showcase that just highlighting their talent through existing work wasn’t enough,” explained Miller. “The expanded program--which includes mentoring, shadowing, and workshops (14 sessions from all corners of the industry) over a six-month period--helped to expose the directing fellows to the unique aspects of working in the commercials industry. In addition, it also gave the fellows an enriched relationship with engaged AICP members, and also helped amplify the existence of the program to the membership at large, which in turn created greater awareness.”
Lamison added that “giving the directing fellows a significant grant to create a spec commercial and allowing the mentoring production companies to contribute to the spot’s production has made a huge difference in the fellows being able to create profound relationships with the companies as well as many others throughout the industry. Having a quality spec to add to their reels gives them yet another tool in their kit for sales reps and others in the industry to appreciate and evaluate the directing fellows which will hopefully lead to more work.”
Each year the CDDP looks to also bring new mentoring production companies into the fold. That dynamic too helps to advance the initiative. “This ensures,” said Miller, “that CDDP’s reach is felt by the full membership of AICP and provides variety in the type of learning experiences for the fellows. And it can provide a first crack at talent, but that’s a pleasant byproduct; it’s not a goal or requirement for the mentoring companies to sign their mentee.”
A new wrinkle this time around in the CDDP process was Saatchi & Saatchi’s participation, which entailed working with the CDDP fellows on crafting scripts while providing creative insights. Miller recalled, “John Lick (manager, brand building integrated production) at P&G discussed getting more involved when we presented the program to the ANA Production Management Committee. He and his agency team at Saatchi and Team One immediately volunteered to conduct one of the 14 workshops and assist. One of the ideas that we had was that it would be a bit more of a ‘real world experience’ for the fellows to have scripts provided by agencies and to have the agency as a resource as they work through creating their spec pieces (from these scripts) with their mentoring companies.”
Lamison assessed that Lick, Saatchi and Team One “all had a profound effect on the program with their participation in the workshops and for Saatchi & Saatchi--their involvement in the script process. The fellows mentioned that they had never had the opportunity to get such valuable insight from the agency/client side of the business. And the agencies said they really enjoyed being able to offer this kind of valuable support, and guidance to talented emerging commercial directors. Definitely a win-win for all who were very vocal about their commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Here’s the lineup of this year’s CDDP spec fare:
Vanessa Black, Nike’s “Catch Me”
Sofia Garza-Barba, Toyota’s “Daddy”
Dominique DeLeon, Audi’s “Heaven”
Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, New Balance’s “Run”
Jane Qian, Paralympics
All the spec spots can be viewed here.