CLASS OF 2019
Parisa Barani is an Iranian-Canadian-American film director. Born and raised in Tehran, she immigrated to Vancouver at the age of 16, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. She recently completed the short version of her feature film HUMAN TERRAIN, which stars Maggie Siff and Sarita Choudhury and will be distributed by Refinery29. Barani is also the recipient of the 2016 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Grant, as well as a grant from the Neda Nobari Foundation. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
Barani began her creative career working at the John Anson Ford Theatres in Los Angeles and the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver. She was mentored by Anne Bogart at SITI's Theatre Intensive Training at Skidmore College, where she learned both Viewpoints and Suzuki Method techniques. Shortly thereafter, Barani's award-winning short film ABLUTION (WUZU) screened at festivals worldwide, including the 38th annual Mill Valley Film Festival. The film was an official selection of the Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase. An advocate for diversity and radically authentic storytelling, she curated a SXSW panel in 2017 titled "Authentic Muslim Voices Tell Their Stories."
Before venturing into directing, she earned an MBA from CSULB and worked in distribution for Film and TV. She has worked at numerous companies as the Director of International Sales. She is fluent in English and Farsi.
Jessica Kaye was born in South Africa and raised in Minneapolis. After studying Literature and Performance Studies at Harvard, she earned her MFA in Acting at Columbia. While in New York, she starred in plays and feature films, produced and performed in ribald performance-art parties, and played a soap opera villain on television's ONE LIFE TO LIVE. In 2008, she produced and starred in GARGOYLE, a SAFTA-nominated short film shot in Johannesburg. In 2013, she received an MFA in Film Production from USC. Her short films ANGEL and FABIAN DEBORA, A LIFE FOR ART, screened at numerous festivals. Her short film SHORTAGE was executive-produced by James Franco. Kaye is the co-writer/director and lead actor of the feature film INHERITANCE, shot on location in Belize. INHERITANCE premiered at SXSW in 2017 and released theatrically and on VOD. Currently, she is working as co-creator and lead actor of FAMILY EVENT, a 30 minute dramedy pilot and writing the feature film SKATER, inspired by her AFI DWW short.
Shilpi Roy sold her first television show, BROWN GIRLS, to Freeform TV. Working with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment (AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, LIFE IN PIECES), Nastaran Dibai (DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, ACCORDING TO JIM), and Mark Cendrowski (THE BIG BANG THEORY), Roy co-wrote and co-executive-produced the pilot. Roy was also the showrunner of MATCHELORETTE, a CMT pilot for SoulPancake. She currently writes on the Netflix Original Series TEAM KAYLIE (release date TBD 2019) and is developing multiple TV and film projects. Shilpi is represented by Chelsea Radler at WME in Los Angeles.
Roy began her career writing and directing the award-winning web series HIPSTERHOOD, then producing and directing the magician-comedy series DISILLUSIONED, which garnered a Best Comedy Web Series Award from the HollyWeb Festival. She has also directed episodes of the ®-winning web series EMMA APPROVED. She is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Amber Sealey is an award-winning director, writer, actor, and producer. She was selected for AFI's Directing Workshop for Women, Film Independent's Directing Lab and Fast Track, WeForShe's DirectHer program, The Future of Film is Female grants, and Sundance and Women In Film's Financing and Mentorship programs.
Her DWW short, HOW DOES IT START, premiered at Sundance. Her feature NO LIGHT & NO LAND ANYWHERE, EP'd by Miranda July, was theatrically released and won the Special Jury Award at LAFF and the Indie Vision Breakthrough Feature Award at TCFF.
Her second feature, HOW TO CHEAT, won Best Performance at LAFF, and won both Best Narrative and Best Acting at BendFilm. Her first film, A PLUS D, was released by IndiePix. She has directed music videos, content for AOL, Yahoo, and Oath.
Amber has shadowed Jill Soloway (Amazon's Transparent), Jamie Babbit (Netflix's Girlboss), and Daisy Mayer (NBC's Reverie). As an actor she has worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, Simon Pegg, and David Schwimmer, among others. She has been directed by Oscar-winner Andrea Arnold, and BAFTA-winner/Emmy-nominee Susanna White. Amber is also an acting coach and regularly works with Camera D'Or-winner Miranda July, Oscar-nominee Mike Mills, Martin de Thurah, and Josephine Decker.
Amber is originally from England and was raised in Santa Fe. She lives in LA with her family.
Siyou Tan is a Chinese-Singaporean filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She is currently a fellow at the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, where she completed HELLO AHMA. Her short film 2200 VOLTS (2017) was mentioned in Variety and premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2018. She is now developing feature projects.
Siyou is also a visual artist with a printmaking background. Previously, she was the Art Director at Wondros. In her role, she combined fine art and film for locally and internationally-based commercials, music videos, documentaries, VR pieces, and campaigns for non-profit organizations. Her work garnered numerous awards, including a Cannes Lion, two AICP awards, a Ciclope Award (for the first ever live music video MAKE ME LIKE YOU by Gwen Stefani) and the Jury Award at SXSW (SECOND HAND LOVERS by Oren Lavie).
She's a graduate of Wesleyan University, and is fluent in English, Mandarin and Singlish.
Carly Usdin is an award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her first feature, Sui-cide Kale, won the Audience Award for Best First Feature at Outfest 2016. After playing over 30 festivals worldwide the film is now available on iTunes and Amazon Prime. In 2017 Carly served as showrunner and director for the scripted series Threads, pro-duced by New Form for Verizon's go90 platform. The 20-episode horror and comedy anthology series brought to life outrageous stories from internet forums like Reddit.
Carly is also the creator and writer of two comic book series for BOOM! Studios: Heavy Vinyl and The Avant-Guards. Heavy Vinyl was nominated for a 2018 Prism award, hon-oring the best in LGBTQAI+ comics.
Carly has recently completed her first short film Misdirection, created as part of the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women, class of 2019. Currently she is developing several projects through her production company Scheme Machine Stu-dios, which she owns with her wife, photographer and producer Robin Roemer.
Originally from NJ, Marielle Woods is an award-winning filmmaker who thrives in the high-stakes world of action storytelling.
After receiving her BA from Harvard University in 2008, she moved west and has been working as an LA-based director ever since. She got her start directing and producing shows for networks including Discovery, History, and A&E - and cut her teeth filming gunfights, avalanches and animal attacks, traveling around the globe in pursuit of good stories. Now, she lives every week like it's Shark Week.
Moving into the scripted world, Woods spent much of the last four years working with exceptional stunt coordinators and second unit directors on films including JOHN WICK 2, BABY DRIVER and BRIGHT. She's helmed award-winning branded content as well as internationally recognized short-format narratives. She flipped a car in the Puerto Rican jungle for her short, MI CORAZON, and recreated war-torn Iraq on a soundstage for her 2018 film, DO NO HARM. Most recently, Woods turned sign-spinning into a martial art for her DWW project, SPIN.
Woods likes to push buttons and boundaries, telling stories that make audiences think — with a few explosions along the way.
Talia Zucker is a Los Angeles based filmmaker & actor originally from Australia. Her sci-fi screenplay IN VITRO was selected for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and is also being developed with Screen Australia. Most recently Talia completed her short film, CHILD, through the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Her previous short, AFTERWARDS, screened at the St Kilda Film Festival as part of Australia's Top 100 Short Films.
Talia is currently developing and is attached to direct a new TV series with Margot Robbie's LuckyChap Entertainment.
As an actor she will next appear in Bradley Liew's MOTEL ACACIA which has been picked up by XYZ Films.