Directing Fellowship

Shoot for the Stars

The HBOAccess® Directing Fellowship invites emerging television directors to demonstrate their talent, skills and—most importantly—growth potential. Every other year, three directors are selected to shoot pilots created during the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship.

2018 Fellows

Carey Williams

Hailed by Filmmaker Magazine as one of its 2018 New Faces of Independent Film, Carey is a director who brings a unique and visually striking cinematic eye to the exploration of the human condition. His most recent film, Emergency, has received awards from festivals such as Sundance and SXSW. In addition to these accolades, he has honed his craft as a mentee with Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation, as a Directing Fellow with Film Independent Project Involve and, most recently, a fellowship with NBC's Emerging Director Program. Carey aspires to evoke thought, reflection and positive change through his work. His HBOAccess pilot, Halfway, written by 2017 Writing Fellow Katherine Craft, centers on a recent parolee struggling to stay clean as she tries to reunite with her estranged daughter.

Thembi Banks

Born in Harlem, New York, Thembi is a 2017 Film Independent Project Involve Directing Fellow whose short film Suitable was a finalist at ABFF 2018. She recently wrote on Season 2 of Showtime's Golden Globe®-nominated series SMILF, and is currently staffed on a new series for Apple. During the HBOAccess Program, Thembi directed Unimundo, written by 2017 Writing Fellow Claudia Forestieri. Based on Claudia's real-life experiences at Telemundo, the pilot revolves around a Spanish-language news producer who unexpectedly becomes a symbol for the resistance. Thembi has also been selected to participate in Paul Feig’s incubator initiative Powderkeg: Fuse.

Ryan Zaragoza

Ryan earned a finalist spot on HBO's Project Greenlight. His directorial debut, The Painter, was an official selection of the STARZ Network Film Festival. His latest short film, bebé, is currently available on HBO Latino, HBO GO and HBO NOW. For HBOAccess, Ryan directed Sterling, written by 2017 Writing Fellows Stephanie McFarlane and Bryce Ahart, which focuses on a small Texas town in the aftermath of a school shooting. He is currently shadowing Daniel Minahan on HBO's Deadwood feature film.

2016 Fellows

Kate Marks

Kate was a Project Involve fellow at Film Independent, where she received the Barbara Boyle Award. She began making films after working as a playwright, theatre director, and performer in New York City. Her award-winning short films (Pearl Was Here, Homebody, 7 Day Gig and Miracle Maker) continue to screen all over the world. Highlights include Slamdance, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Mill Valley, and broadcasting on PBS. She is a graduate of CalArts (MFA) and Brown University (BA). Additionally, Kate teaches filmmaking in public schools, prisons, senior centers and parks. Her work with a wide range of students can be felt in her stories, which focus on the need to be witnessed.

Pete Chatmon

Pete's debut feature, Premium, starred Dorian Missick, Zoe Saldana and Hill Harper, and premiered on Showtime after a limited theatrical run. Chatmon also wrote, produced, and directed 761ST, a documentary on the first black tank battalion in WWII, narrated by Andre Braugher. Chatmon received the Tribeca Film Institute “All Access” Program’s Creative Promise Narrative Award for the heist screenplay $Free.99, written in collaboration with Candice Sanchez McFarlane. Through Double7 Images, his Digital Studio, he has directed content for ad agencies, Porsche, Procter & Gamble, Lenovo, Universal Pictures and other brands. Chatmon’s career began in 2001 with the Sundance selection of his NYU thesis film,3D, starring Kerry Washington. His current project, the short film Black Card, began traveling the international film festival circuit in Spring/Summer 2015 and premiered on HBO in February 2016.

Kevin Lau

Kevin Lau is a writer/director who is a recent fellow of the Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program and CAPE New Writers Fellowship. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, his thesis film, Made in Chinatown, swept the NBCUniversal Short Film Festival—winning Best Short, Best Writing and Best Actor—and has gone on to screen in exhibitions at the New Americans Museum, Glass Curtain Gallery and in classrooms at UCLA and Emerson College. Kevin is a proud native of Los Angeles and credits the culturally diverse city for shaping the stories he tells.

2014 Fellows

Alonso Alvarez Barreda

Alonso was born in Mexico City and raised in the Mexican town of Tampico, Tamaulipas. Alonso’s first short, Historia de un Letrero, won the highly coveted Best Short Film Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. His period piece, Crescendo, won competitions at both the 2013 Urbanworld and 2014 NBC Short Cuts film festivals, and has been an official selection at over 30 international festivals, including Telluride and New York—taking 20 international awards.

Alonso’s HBOAccess short, The Walk, is an emotional story of a father and son as they try to make their way across the US border from Mexico.

Jamal Caesar

Jamal is a Brooklyn, New York-born-and-bred Caribbean-American filmmaker. A graduate of Yale University, where he double-majored in American Studies and Film Studies, Jamal ultimately completed his graduate degree in filmmaking at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His thesis short, Reform—awarded a Hollywood Foreign Press Association grant—follows a young Hasidic man with a tragic secret, and examines what it means to exist on the inside and outskirts of a community.

Jamal’s HBOAccess short, Progress, is a futuristic look at the life of the last black man on earth.

Sasie Sealy

Sasie is a New York-based filmmaker and National Board of Review Award winner whose work has appeared on PBS and as part of IFP’s Buzz Cuts. Her film The Elephant Garden, about a young girl’s struggle to reconcile the shifting boundaries between childhood and adolescence, won the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival Student Visionary Award. A seasoned commercial director, Sasie made her episodic directing debut this summer with Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street for Amazon Studios.

Sasie’s HBOAccess short, Last Song, focuses on the surprising connection between a teenaged Korean immigrant and an African-American veteran in a North Carolina karaoke bar.

Keola Racela

Keola is a narrative filmmaker from Southern California who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he is pursuing an MFA in Directing from Columbia University’s graduate film program. He previously worked as Media Director at Youth Rights Media in New Haven, CT, a nonprofit dedicated to creating social change through youth-led documentary filmmaking. His thesis short, Above the Sea, won the 2014 Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Keola’s HBOAccess short, Emergency Contact, is a comedic look at a middle-aged woman who seeks help as she rapidly unravels in a hospital trauma center.