ViacomCBS Sets Five For Its 2021-22 Directors Initiative

2021-22 CBS Directors Initiative group, clockwise from top left: Julie Herlocker, Bao Tran, Steven J. Kung, Pat Santana and Joy T. Lane ViacomCBS

It’s Scene 1, Take 1 for the 2021-22 class of ViacomCBS’ Directors Initiative. This year’s group, which is guaranteed to helm an episode of television on CBS, includes Julie Herlocker, Joy T. Lane Steven J. Kung, Pat Santana and Bao Tran.

The initiative provides a platform for experienced directors to gain access to showrunners, executives, managers and agents and the opportunity to shadow CBS Television Network and CBS Studios shows throughout the year. The program helps directors develop meaningful relationships with industry professionals that are essential to getting hired.

“The ViacomCBS Directors Initiative gives television directors the access, exposure and opportunity to be successful in this industry,” said Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, EVP Entertainment Diversity and Inclusion, Global Inclusion, at ViacomCBS. “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.”

One of last year’s participants, Morenike Joela Evans, recently directed for the iCarly reboot for Paramount+ and the upcoming CBS comedy spinoff How I Met Your Father.

Smith-Anoa’i added, “I’d like to mention my former colleague Jeanne Mau, previously SVP Global Inclusion at ViacomCBS, whose tireless efforts and dedication to this program have made it the success that it is.”

Here are bios of the five helmers set for ViacomCBS’ 2021-22 Directors Initiative:

Julie Herlocker
Herlocker began her directing career in 2014 with the short dramatic comedy Peter’s Ashes. While a producer on NBC’s Grimm, she made her episodic directing debut in the show’s final season. Over the course of 123 episodes, Herlocker was the only crew member to earn the opportunity to direct. Prior to directing, Herlocker was a post producer in episodic television, where she enjoyed working closely with showrunners on high-profile series including Grimm, Las Vegas, In Justice, Taken, The West Wing and Millennium. Discovering a passion for building tension in non-linear storytelling, she then wrote, produced and directed the short thrillers 7AM Wednesday (2020) and A Close Call (2021). Recently, she graduated from the DGA’s highly selective DDI Mentorship Program for episodic television directors and has been expanding into development. Herlocker has multiple projects on her slate with her production company, Shadow Art Entertainment.

Bao Tran
Tran was mentored early in his career by master action director Corey Yuen, and was instilled with an approach to action that doesn’t rely solely on spectacle, but also draws on story and character. Screen Anarchy praised his written and directed short Bookie for its “flawlessly realized world populated by entirely fleshed out and believable characters, driven by a compelling narrative and brought to sumptuous life.” His editing credits include Cho Lon, one of Southeast Asia’s highest-budgeted action blockbusters, and Jackpot, a heartfelt comedy selected as Vietnam’s official entry to the 2016 Oscars for Best Foreign Film. His first directorial feature, The Paper Tigers, garnered praise from Collider as “an impressive feature debut with confident command of the narrative and action alike, an absolutely lovely time at the movies.” Rotten Tomatoes ranked it both as the No. 1 1 action comedy of all time and one of the top 10 Asian American movies of all time with a Certified Fresh rating.

Joy T. Lane
Lane is a North Carolina-bred filmmaker dedicated to making a difference in episodic television, one set at a time. She is an experienced script supervisor who recently made the move into directing for film and television. She helmed two episodes of the Emmy-nominated NBC series Blindspot, starring Jamie Alexander, on which she previously served as script supervisor. Lane was also the script supervisor on the 2005 feature drama Homecoming, The Breaks, Connecting… and most recently Power Book III: Raising Kanan. Some of her other series credits in this capacity include IFC’s The Whitest Kids U Know and Z Rock as well as MTV’s Human Giant and Wild ’N Out. Currently based in New York City, Lane got her start at a CBS affiliate television station in Greensboro, N.C. After moving to Washington, D.C., she worked on various series for PBS and Discovery. However, it was in New York that Lane took her career to the next level, parlaying a gig on ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire into greater opportunities.

Pat Santana
Santana is a writer and director with a love for striking visuals and game-changing narratives. Born and raised in Barcelona, Patricia graduated in arts and design and worked in prestigious advertising firms for over a decade. A turning point in her life propelled her to move to the U.S. and pursue her first passion, filmmaking. Currently, Santana lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a commercial and content director for clients such as Netflix, Hallmark and Wendy’s. Since uprooting her life, Santana has completed several short films and screened them at renowned festivals across the globe. In 2018, she was chosen among applicants from across the world to participate in the Filming With Werner Herzog workshop in Peru. In 2019, she was selected to participate in the prestigious Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative program. Currently, she is developing her first feature, Mal Aire, based on the short she shot with Herzog. The project was selected to participate at the Torino Lab Next this year. Her series Shame on You recently was rewarded a development grant.

Steven J. Kung
The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Steven J. Kung directed an episode from the sixth season of Fresh Off the Boat and is a writer on Dear White People. He’s been telling POC, queer, and female-forward stories for his entire career, most notably with A Leading Man, his feature film about Asian American representation in entertainment, which led Mic to proclaim him one of “Six Filmmakers Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling.” Also, Kung directed the award-winning documentary SPEW: The Competitive World of High School Debate, as well as commercials and industrials for the Global Healthy Living Foundation, Essential Qi, the Victory Fund and the University of Virginia. As a UPM, he produced Ernest Borgnine’s final movie, The Man Who Shook The Hand of Vicente Fernández. Kung graduated from the Disney ABC Directing Program and the DGA Mentorship Program. He co-founded the DGA LGBTQ+ Committee, serves as co-chair emeritus of the DGA Asian American Committee, and is a board member of the Virginia Film Festival. A native of Virginia Beach, he holds an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA with high distinction in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.

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