Program Expands From LA County To Include Central Coast Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, March 16, 2022 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the launch of the third Young Women in Film (YWIF) intensive. The nine-week filmmaking workshop will be held on the AFI Campus in Los Angeles for 50 female-identifying high school students from ICEF (Inner City Education Foundation) View Park Preparatory High School, Immaculate Heart, Synergy Quantum Academy High School and Atascadero High School (San Luis Obispo County). Participants will work together in teams alongside AFI Conservatory Fellows and Alumni to create a series of short films that will be screened for audiences on the AFI Campus at the conclusion of the program. This year’s program will be overseen by the AFI Conservatory’s new Department of Innovative Programs, which brings the Institute’s non-degree, social impact programs under one roof.

“With the launch of the third Young Women in Film intensive, AFI connects young filmmakers directly with AFI resources, providing unparalleled access to equipment and the opportunity to learn from our talented Fellows and Alumni,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute. “We are excited to expand our reach with a hybrid program to include a regional school from California’s Central Coast community of Atascadero and thereby provide wider regional inclusivity, and to use technology to assist this effort – both priorities of the new Innovative Programs department. We look forward to supporting these young artists in their filmmaking journey and the impact they will have on the world in years to come.”

The Young Women in Film intensive kicks off today with an inspiring welcome session with Stacy Pascal Gaspard, a Directing Fellow at the AFI Conservatory, about her journey from being the first in her family to go to college in the United States to being selected for Lena Waithe’s Rising Voices Program with Indeed, the Paxeros’ Women of Color Commercial Directing Program, and the Indeed and Hillman Grad’s filmmaker in residency program. Gaspard’s most recent film, SOÑADORA, which she wrote and directed through the Rising Voices Program, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the following weeks, students will learn the art of filmmaking, with training in pitching, screenwriting, producing, production design, directing, cinematography and editing — all with state-of-the-art cinematic technology. In making their films, students will also have access to professional actors from the SAG-AFTRA Los Angeles Conservatory.

The Young Women in Film intensive is made possible in part by support from AT&T, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Canon Burbank. The program’s Founding Partner is the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation.

YWIF 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 the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. Through a range of learning opportunities, Innovative Programs serves a diverse 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. Read more about Innovative Programs on


About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,, and

About the AFI Conservatory

The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison and Wally Pfister, among others.


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