Filmmakers Tina Mabry ’05 and Eric Nazarian ’99 graduated from the Production Division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Between the two of them, they have eight Internet Movie Database credits as writers, directors, cinematographers, actors and producers, primarily in the world of independent films. In May, they also will be graduates of the Fox Writers Intensive (FWI).
The FWI is a selective writers’ initiative held at Fox Studios in Los Angeles from February through May. As opposed to other programs open to new writers, the FWI is directed at storytellers whose careers are under way.
“I was elated about [getting into the FWI],” Mabry said. “To have the opportunity to be in it is a great door into the world of television; it’s a door I’ve wanted to enter for some time.
“To some extent, diversity has gotten better thanks to programs such as this and through organizations such as Film Independent and the Tribeca Film Institute,” she explained.
“In the feature realm, you see filmmakers coming up who are diverse in their background and their voice, but when addressing whether or not we’ve gotten to the apex of where we should be in terms of diversity in film and television, we’re moving in the right direction, but we aren’t quite there yet.
“I think you see that struggle particularly in television directing,” she added. “Women can, of course, hang with the guys, but creating a level playing field is still something we are continuing to strive for. Thankfully, Fox and Film Independent both see this need and continue to elevate and support unique and diverse voices.”
Nazarian said: “They picked 10 finalists out of 300 nominees from Sundance, Film Independent and other cultural and film institutions. They are trying to diversify their talent pool for television and film. There’s a need for more original voices from diverse backgrounds.
“At FWI and Film Independent, diversity of voices and experience is key to enriching stories for films and television,” he added. “The industry is in a transitional phase but regardless of however many changes it undergoes hand in hand with technology, new and original content will always be the fundamental need.”
Mabry recently completed directing the short film Crossover and won the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award for the script County Line. Nazarian is working on his film, Giant, and is writing and producing the sequels to the 2007 film Mongol with director Sergei Bodrov.