SFTV alum and faculty member tapped for Warner Bros TV directors’ workshop

Solomon Onita Jr. MFA ’16 and assistant professor Leena Pendharkar were two of the 12 directors selected by Warner Bros Television Group earlier this week for their prestigious 2020 Warner Bros Television Directors’ Workshop. They were chosen for the honor from among more than 500 applicants.

Launched in 2013, the Warner Bros program helps directors from other creative fields transition to working in TV and boosts equity and inclusion by offering opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups in directing. Past alumni of the program include Marcus Stokes (“The Flash,” “Station 19,” “9-1-1”), Jennifer Phang (“Riverdale,” “The Boys,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Cloak & Dagger,” “DC’s Stargirl”), Alexis Ostrander (“Riverdale,” “American Horror Story,” “Supergirl,” “Servant”), David Rodriguez (“Animal Kingdom,” “The Chi,” “Queen of the South”), and many others.

Onita Jr. earned his master’s in Film and Television Production at SFTV. He recently completed his debut feature film Tazmanian Devil and also wrote and directed the short film Joy, which addresses the topic of female genital mutilation. Joy has screened at more than 60 film festivals, was a finalist in the HBO Short Film Competition, and was distributed on all of HBO’s platforms.

Pendharkar, an award-winning writer/director who teaches in SFTV’s Film and Television Production program, is also currently in the CBS Diverse Directors program. Her sophomore film 20 Weeks premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was released on Hulu and in theaters in 2018. She’s also directed numerous short films, including Awaken starring Parminder Nagra, which is currently on the festival circuit.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the program has been shortened to two weeks from its original nine and will be conducted online this year. Lectures will be led by co-teachers Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli, along with others, and participants will direct co-habitating actors remotely instead of doing the work on the company’s sets.