AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women Announces 2022 Participants – American Film Institute
A woman cinematographer framing a shot of a woman standing in a kitchen


AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women Announces 2022 Participants

AFI is thrilled to announce the participants for the 2022 Cinematography Intensive for Women (CIW) presented by Panavision. The four-day intensive, spearheaded by AFI Conservatory Cinematography Discipline Head Stephen Lighthill, ASC, will begin Friday, July 15 on the AFI Campus in Los Angeles and continue through Monday, July 18.

This year’s talented CIW participants come from across the U.S. and span a wide range of ages, experience levels, backgrounds and perspectives. They represent an accomplished and diverse pool of applicants. AFI is excited to champion these future leaders who are committed to learning and advancing inclusive culture, fostering diverse communities and ethical practices and whose unique voices will add dimension to the art of visual storytelling and to our industry at large.

The 16 selected filmmakers are: Anjuli Arreola-Burl, Guisel Contreras, Sarah Crowley-Kelly, Hannah Freeman, Nicky Fuchs, Allyson Hoover, Leeann Leonard, Miriam Ouchi, Angelica Perez-Castro, Aja Pilapil, Rebecca Richard, Susie Shircliff, Olivia Steed, Amber Steele, Olga Wagner and Demi Waldron.

“We are excited to welcome this talented and diverse group of visual storytellers to join this transformative workshop,” said AFI Conservatory Cinematography Discipline Head Stephen Lighthill. “It is an honor to meet them at this moment in their careers and help them continue to develop their craft. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for all of us.”

The CIW Selection Committee members are Rosita Lama-Muvdi (AFI Class of 2016, HARCLAW, TABULA RASA), Stephen Lighthill, ASC (GIMME SHELTER, BERKELEY IN THE SIXTIES), Valentina Martinico (AFI Class of 2014, TIGHT, ALLEN V. FARROW), Jill Murrin (Director, AFI Admissions), Joenique Rose (AFI Class of 2016, EMERGENCY, LET’S TALK), Sara Ross-Samko (AFI Class of 2013, REFUSING TO GHOST, HERSTORY), Karen Schwartzman (Senior Director, Innovative Programs), and Sandra Valde-Hansen, ASC (AFI Class of 2006, PLAN B, THE L WORD: GENERATION Q).

Designed for aspiring cinematographers, the goal of the program is to provide participants with a toolkit to secure on-set experience in the field and first-hand industry insights, demonstrating the path to professional career success. The hands-on master classes in the fundamentals of cinematography constitute the core of the program, along with discussions about the current environment in the entertainment industry and what it means to navigate this landscape as women, nonbinary and historically underrepresented cinematographers. CIW classes will be taught by AFI Conservatory Faculty and Alumni including Autumn Durald Arkapaw (AFI Class of 2009, LOKI, BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER); Ava Berkofsky (AFI Class of 2013, INSECURE); AFI Conservatory Cinematography Discipline Head and President of the American Society of Cinematographers Stephen Lighthill, ASC; AFI Conservatory Chair of Visual Storytelling Bill Dill, ASC (B.A.P.S., SOUL FOOD); Jih-E Peng (AFI Class of 2012, THE LIGHT AND THE LITTLE GIRL); Sara Ross-Samko (AFI Class of 2013, REFUSING TO GHOST, HERSTORY); Sandra Valde-Hansen, ASC (AFI Class of 2006, PLAN B, THE L WORD: GENERATION Q); and Dan Sasaki, Vice President of Special Optics, Panavision.

The Cinematography Intensive for Women is presented by Panavision, with additional support from The Walt Disney Studios.


About the 2022 CIW Participants

Anjuli Arreola-Burl

Anjuli Arreola-Burl recently received a BFA in Film and Television Production from the USC. She got her start as a filmmaker during her time in high school in Berkeley, California, where she produced a number of indie shorts as well as promotional content for nonprofit and student organizations. Since then, she has narrowed her focus to cinematography, working as a director of photography on several thesis films.


Guisel Contreras

Guisel Contreras is a Mexican-American filmmaker and cinematographer who specializes in observational documentaries. Contreras is dedicated to telling stories about women, education, art, health and human rights and believes in the power of intimate, character-driven storytelling to mobilize social change. Contreras has filmed on documentaries including WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS, AND SHE COULD BE NEXT, and projects for Netflix and HBO.


Sarah Crowley-Kelly

Sarah is a cinematographer, layout artist – and as of this year – a mother, originally from Sleepy Hollow, New York who currently lives in the Bay Area. Crowley-Kelly studied Film Production and Anthropology at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and is now a cinematographer at Pixar Animation Studios in the Camera & Staging Department. She most recently completed work on her first feature LIGHTYEAR (2022) and is currently working on Pixar’s next feature.


Hannah Freeman

Hannah Freeman is a recent graduate of Boston University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Film Production, specializing in cinematography. She freelances as a 1st Assistant Camera on projects for HBO, Netflix, Apple TV and VICE. She is currently credited as the 1st AC on two shorts and one feature documentary. Freeman leans into photographing short form passion projects focused on elevating and empowering other marginalized voices. Freeman currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Nicky Fuchs

Nicky grew up in Las Vegas, NV and received her BA in European History in 3 ½ years and soon after started working locally in the industry as a PA. In 2011, she worked as the Camera PA on season 2 of AMERICAN HORROR STORY. She has worked as a 2nd AC on BOURNE, FOURSOME, SWITCHED AT BIRTH and many other projects. Fuchs currently resides in Nashville, TN with her husband Afton, her son Franklyn & daughter Billie.


Allyson Hoover

A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Allyson Hoover has worked professionally in film and TV since graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018, where she received a BA in Media and Professional Communications. In 2021, she became a member of Local 600 International Cinematographers Guild. Her set experience ranges from commercials, reality TV shows and documentaries, to live events and feature films. She recently started her own video production company, Double A Visuals.


Leann Leonard

Leeann Leonard, Diné (Navajo) is an LA-based Cinematographer who has worked as a 1st Assistant Camera, 2nd Assistant Camera, Camera Operator, and DP in film, television and music videos. Leonard is a proud alumni of Academy Gold, Panavision’s Catalyst Cohort/Made in Her Image, and Biola University’s School of Cinema and Media Arts. In her spare time, Leonard loves to travel, attend live concerts, and watch baseball.


Miriam Ouchi

Miriam Ouchi received a Master’s Degree in Direction of Photography from the ESCAC in Barcelona, a degree in Professional Photography from EFTI in 2012, and was part of the ASC Vision Mentorship Program in 2020. Since 2014, Ouchi has worked as a camera assistant for commercials, series, and features while also shooting shorts and music videos as a cinematographer. Ouchi was born in the U.S., raised in the Dominican Republic, and is temporarily based in Spain.


Angélica Pérez-Castro

Born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Angélica Pérez-Castro worked with various art mediums before falling in love with cameras, lighting and the craft of cinematography. She has worked on features, series, documentaries, music videos and commercials. Pérez-Castro is very passionate about her love of cinematography. She has been seen doing yoga on set in her downtime and smiling when she’s operating the camera.


Aja Pilapil

At the intersection of new technology and West Coast pop influence, cinematographer Aja Pilapil reflects the diverse and authentic identities shaping the continually transforming landscape of California. In 2021, she photographed LADY LOS ANGELES a dramatic short about a young woman skateboarder. Pilapil continues to partner with communities and artists who need technical training in motion pictures and expressing their stories with style and an empathetic lens.


Rebecca Richard

Rebecca Richard’s sculpture background often aids her photo and video work, continually interchanging each practice’s principles. She uses techniques found in sculpture and fine art to carve compositions and understand the study of light – how it shapes emotion, modifying perception. As an artist, she fuses many mediums, strengthening her comprehension of world-building and storytelling. She also explores recontextualizing topics of immigration, colorism, and her South Asian identity through fantasy in her work.


Susie Shircliff

Susie Shircliff is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles, who holds a BA in Cinema from Southern Illinois University, and a BS in Advertising from Murray State University. She has worked on the Academy Award ®-nominated film ANOMALISA and at some of the top stop motion animation studios in LA. Shircliff earned a Daytime Emmy ® nomination for her work as a camera operator on Netflix’s BUDDY THUNDERSTRUCK and in 2019, she was the DP on Marvel’s first stop motion animated series MODOK. She recently joined the crew of Guillermo del Toro’s PINOCCHIO.


Olivia Steed

Olivia Steed loves to be active, move, be competitive, eat great food, and laugh to the point of tears. The love she has for life, loved ones, and the craft has fueled her endeavors as a freelance creator/entrepreneur, in varying camera department roles, and in her current experience within logistics at a camera rental house. This training will support her ability to show up on a crew and inform her own projects as a cinematographer.


Amber Steele

Amber Steele received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from University of Central Florida in 2016. After graduation, she moved to LA and began working as a grip and electrician on music videos, TV shows and films. In 2018, Steele was able to join IATSE Local 80 as a company grip. Some of her recent cinematographer credits include the feature documentary SWING BIGthe docuseries NIKI: ROAD TO THE DESERT and the feature spec short OR ELSE.


Olga Wagner

Olga Wagner is an NYC-based filmmaker originally from the Republic of Moldova. Wagner received her BFA in Motion Picture Production at the Tom Hanks Center at Wright State University. Wagner is currently works as a Camera Operator/Drone Operator/Assistant Camera/DIT on various productions throughout the country and beyond. Wagner is fluent in English, Russian, Ukrainian, and Romanian languages.


Demi Waldron

Demi Waldron grew up as a queer kid in a small rural town in South Carolina. She began her career shooting branded content and camera operating in documentary television. There she developed her intuition for lighting and aptitude for collaboration. She works primarily in narrative and documentary spaces, with a special interest in how the two genres overlap.


CIW is one of the American Film Institute’s pioneering, tuition-free efforts to empower diverse filmmakers within the AFI Conservatory’s Department of Innovative Programs, which also includes the landmark AFI DWW program and Young Women in Film. Through a range of learning opportunities, Innovative Programs serves an inclusive community of aspiring visual storytellers with opportunities to build leading-edge technological, digital and media-making skills, bridge access to professional networks and place participants on a career trajectory.

Learn more about the AFI Conservatory film school at

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