From network television to independent films to new media, Sharat Raju is a versatile writer and director whose work has earned more than twenty international awards and continues to entertain audiences throughout the world.
Sharat’s journey as a filmmaker began on the outskirts of Chicago, the first American-born child to Indian parents. A descendant of poets and artists, he was raised in a family and culture with a rich storytelling tradition. Sharat wrote at an early age which continued at the University of Michigan where he received two national awards for his work as a journalist at The Michigan Daily and graduated with a degree in English.
After a brief stint as a freelance Chicago sports reporter, Sharat moved to Los Angeles and worked for legendary casting director Mali Finn. With Mali, Sharat cut his teeth in the industry by learning performance and directing from top filmmakers up close on a dozen films, including The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, and 8 Mile.
In 2001, Sharat was accepted into the American Film Institute’s renowned Directing program where he honed his skills as a visual storyteller and director. Sharat directed six short films in two years, earned an MFA and received the highest honors conferred upon its graduates –the Richard P Rogers Award and the Franklin J Schaffner Award – after creating an acclaimed Masters Thesis film, American Made.
American Made quickly became a phenomenon. The film earned seventeen awards as it tore through the international film festival circuit in 2004 and was acquired for national broadcast on PBS’s Emmy Award-winning program “Independent Lens” for four years. More than three million people have seen the short film worldwide, as well as countless film students and others who have studied the films artistry and subject matter.
Sharat followed up his thesis short by directing and producing a grassroots independent film that has similarly made its mark around the world – Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath. Featured on CNN, NPR, BBC and others, Divided We Fall is the first documentary feature to chronicle the rise in hate-crimes and race-related abuse in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Demand for the film sparked national interest and sent Sharat on a packed screening and speaking tour. Colleges, universities and community groups continue to showcase Divided We Fall as a hopeful and uplifting exploration of America’s racial and religious diversity.
After being selected as a Film Independent Directing Fellow in 2007, Sharat earned a spot through 2008 in ABC Network’s Directing Fellowship, shadowing on a half dozen shows including “Desperate Housewives,” and Boston Legal.
From 2010-12, Sharat helped create and lead the Yale Visual Law Project – an initiative at Yale Law School that brings together documentary filmmaking and legal scholarship. As a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, Sharat trained law students how to communicate a story through the visual medium while producing three films. The Visual Law Project’s most ambitious project, The Worst of the Worst – a documentary about Connecticut’s only supermax prison helped lead to prison reform in the state in 2013 and was used by policy makers in other states as an advocacy tool, as well.
In 2011, Sharat also wrote, directed, co-produced and edited an episode for the PBS-funded pioneering FutureStates web series entitled Worker Drone. The science fiction short film required Sharat to coordinate production and visual effects work between six cities in three countries and premiered in the second season of the series.
After being selected as an NBC Universal Directing Fellow, Sharat was hired to direct an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in October 2014 entitled “Spousal Privilege” with guest stars Meagan Good and Chad Coleman. On the success of that first episode, Sharat was invited to direct a second three months later.
In the following four years, Sharat directed 25 episodes of television in a variety of genres, including multiple episodes of “Criminal Minds,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Designated Survivor,” “Fear the Walking Dead”
and “Scandal” – including “Scandal’s landmark 100th episode (April 2017).
Along the way, Sharat has directed promotional work for social justice organizations as well as music videos and shorts. His scripts The Field on the Corner, Sacred Grounds, Mountain of Light and The Infected are in development with producers.
He lives in Los Angeles and is represented by Sean Fredin and James Robins Early at ICM Partners and Peter Meyer at Meyer Management.