The AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women is committed to educating and mentoring directors to increase the number of women working professionally in screen directing.

Selected women will receive guided instruction and eventually produce a project — either a short film or series for the web or streaming services. All completed projects will be showcased the following year.

Short film participants will work towards completing a short, narrative project with the intended outcome of playing at film festivals and acquiring distribution deals.

Episodic participants will work towards completing a web pilot or a web mini-series (no more than 20 pages total) to premiere online or via a streaming service.


MARCH Notification: Participants are notified of their acceptance.
APRIL Screenplay & Fundraising Mentorship: Participants work remotely on developing their screenplays with faculty mentors, are given classes on fundraising for their projects and begin the process of raising their money with DWW staff guidance.
MAY Three-Week Training Workshop: Full-time classes and instruction. Some evenings and weekends may be required. Classes include all topics related to directing and visual storytelling — from lectures to hands-on exercises with actors and camera.
JUNE Pre-Production: Approximately five weeks from the end of the training workshop session until the first production begins shooting.
JULY Production: AFI provides lighting, grip and camera equipment that can be used for a five-day shoot (permission to use a non-AFI digital camera is possible through a formal request). Equipment pick-up and drop-off times are specified. Participants are responsible for damaged and missing equipment. AFI provides limited insurance and requires shooting/location permits, compliance with AFI SAG-AFTRA agreements and other production paperwork.
AUGUST Picture Lock: Participants are required to find editors for their projects. Projects must lock picture within the assigned 30 days, regardless of whether editing takes place on or off campus. On-campus editing facilities are available during specified hours. Directors participate in two additional days of classes on post-production and the business.
SEPTEMBER THROUGH DECEMBER Post-Production: Participants work to finish their films with AFI staff guidance and following a list of assigned deliverables. Once fully delivered, each participant can premiere their film on campus and will be eligible to participate in the annual DWW Showcase.
APRIL Showcase: Eligible Participants' work is screened in an annual Showcase for agents, managers, producers and executives at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.

Participants become AFI Conservatory Alumnae and enjoy all benefits therein.

As DWW alumnae, the directors receive quarterly newsletters and are invited to monthly tuition-free continuing education.


The three-week workshop focuses on the development and production of a short narrative project — either a short film or a series. Participants enter the program with a short screenplay or series, which they develop within the workshop. Designated milestones for revisions take place throughout the workshop, though the participant always has final say and final cut.

The workshop includes both classroom instruction and experiential education in the art and craft of directing. DWW Faculty Bios can be found here.

Both short film and episodic participants will take the same classes, learning the foundations of directing, as well as skills specific to the other's specialization (ex: Running a Show, Film Festivals & Distribution).

Upon acceptance into the program, it is crucial that participants begin to immediately interview producers and start to fundraise for their projects with DWW mentorship. It is recommended that each project have producer(s) on board prior to the start of the three-week workshop.

Participants are also required to raise $5,000 in support of their productions by the first day of the workshop. Fundraising information and support will be provided shortly after acceptance.

Classroom attendance during the workshop is mandatory and critical to participants' success. Attendance and participation in class demonstrates a commitment to the program, to the projects and to classmates. Pre-production begins in earnest at the end of the three-week workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to select production dates from a list of available times. Production is then permitted only during the specific dates assigned each project.


During production, all DWW participants will direct a short narrative project — either short film or series.

AFI does not provide crew for these projects. However, there are many opportunities for participants to meet AFI Fellows (graduate film students from the AFI Conservatory). Fellows have completed films within similar parameters and are a rich resource for participants to include on their crews. An AFI liaison will be provided for each production to help facilitate the completion of paperwork required by AFI. Participants may raise up to $30,000 in support of their productions ($35,000 for participants who are not local).

Complete production details will be explained to participants during the three-week workshop. All productions must comply with DWW and AFI Production Requirements.

Productions will be scheduled within a very strict time frame. Production will take place in the Los Angeles area during the month of July. Although participants are given access to AFI editing facilities, participants may also choose to edit at an outside facility. Outside editing facilities must be approved in advance. Schedules are strictly monitored and all participants are required to screen cuts of their film for evaluation of progress. Some areas of post-production, such as mixing, will need to be done outside AFI at the production's expense.

Because it is a director-driven program, participants are meant to focus solely on directing and collaborate with a full team — meaning, participants are not allowed to act in, shoot or edit their films.


Participants must have the financial means to dedicate full time concentration to the workshop and the production of their films. This will preclude participants' ability to work full time for approximately four months (May–August) when the DWW project has reached picture lock. DWW is not a grant program. There is no tuition fee to attend.

As explained, participants may raise up to $30,000 in support of their productions ($35,000 for participants who are not local); $5,000 must be raised by the first day of the May workshop. Funds raised for an individual production are considered a donation to the American Film Institute, a letter regarding the donation to a non-profit arts organization will be provided to the donor.

Lunch is provided during the workshop, but AFI does not provide housing or transportation to participants, though may be able to provide resources.


Major Donors

Will & Jada Smith
Family Foundation

Program Support

Jean Picker Firstenberg
Linda Hope
Mark & Lynn Liss
The Adrienne Shelly Foundation
Rosalind Wyman

DWW Endowment Support

Jean Picker Firstenberg Endowment
The Nancy Malone Endowment provided by The Bob & Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation

You can play your part in American film and support this tuition-free program with a donation here.