Q: Who is eligible to apply for this program?

A: DWW is designed specifically for women or gender nonbinary filmmakers who are working in the arts and ready to seriously pursue narrative directing. Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ experience in the arts but may not have professional credits as a narrative director (defined as a directing credit on a nationally broadcast or nationally distributed narrative non-documentary feature film or television program). If you have just completed film school, it is to your advantage to take some time and build work experience before applying to the program.

Q: What is the preferred background of your participants?

A: The DWW is open to female and nonbinary filmmakers regardless of gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, physical appearance, body, age, race, ethnicity, country of origin or religion. Each cycle, we seek a highly diverse class with unique viewpoints. We have no preferred background for our participants.

Q: Does AFI prefer dramas or comedies?

A: We love and accept narrative projects of all genres.

Q: What if I do not have a directing sample?

A: Applicants MUST have a directing sample to apply. The sample must be of moving image project they have personally directed (not co-directed) that demonstrates individual talent, ability and potential. One MUST be a narrative sample. The other may be narrative, experimental, documentary, a reel, trailer, commercial, music video, etc.

Q: How long can my samples be?

A: The selection committee is required to watch 10 minutes of each sample, but you may submit work of any length. If you submit a longer work, we can only guarantee the first 10 minutes will be watched.

Q: I made a documentary that aired nationally on PBS (or was distributed nationally in theaters). Am I eligible to apply?

A: Yes. “Professional credits” are defined for the purposes of DWW as a directing credit on a nationally broadcast or nationally distributed NARRATIVE (fictional) feature film or television show.

Q: I am not a U.S. citizen. Am I eligible to apply?

A: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (with Green Card) and must reside and work in the United States or its territories during the workshop period.

Q: How many women are accepted into the program?

A: Up to eight women are accepted each year with two alternates.

Q: Can I just submit my screenplay for consideration?

A: The full application process must be completed. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Q: Can applicants apply to the program with screenplays they did not write themselves?

A: The screenplay does not have to be written by the applicant. However, when an outside writer’s material is used, all necessary rights must be obtained from the author, including the rights to adapt previously existing material. Please see HOW TO APPLY for more information.

Q: I have a writing partner and am interested in co-directing with her. Can we apply as a team?

A: No, the DWW does not currently accept directing teams.

Q: If I am accepted into the program, what kind of time commitment do I have to make?

A: The workshop requires a commitment of about 16 months. This includes two long weekends in January and February at the AFI Campus in Los Angeles, the Workshop Intensive in May, as well as pre-production, production and post-production time in the summer and fall. There are also commitments in the winter and spring the following year.

The Intensive requires full-time attendance. The average workshop day is between eight and twelve hours and includes weekends.

Q: Will I be able to continue to work at my job during the year?

A: Participants will be able to work from January through April since the Workshop Weekends will be confined to four days – the weekend plus a Friday and Monday. The hours required during the Workshop Intensive in May preclude participants from working.

Participants find time to return to work on a limited basis during pre-production or post-production. However, production schedules are intense, and applicants are cautioned that working may not be possible from May through August. This is a specific opportunity that each applicant has decided to commit to, and it is that commitment that AFI is looking for in selecting participants. In selecting one qualified applicant over another, AFI hopes that the commitment to provide the training identified is matched by a commitment from the participant to partake in the structured environment that the workshop provides.

Q: What does AFI provide if I am selected for DWW?

A: DWW participants are provided mentorship, education and an introduction to working professionals in an intimate setting, as well as camera equipment, a grip-electric package (which participants may choose to supplement through outside vendors), production insurance, use of AFI’s SAG-AFTRA agreement, access to AFI editing facilities, classrooms for castings and meetings, a screening facility for the film’s premiere, a showcase of all eight projects for the entertainment community, inclusion in the AFI alumni network.

Q: Am I required to provide my own crew?

A: Participants are responsible for securing their own crews. AFI does not provide a pool of crewmembers but will provide assistance in making connections especially if a participant is having a difficult time.

There are several opportunities to meet AFI Conservatory Fellows and participants are strongly encouraged to use Fellows as crew members whenever possible. The role of Producer is often the most challenging position for participants to fill, and AFI recommends that the search begin immediately upon acceptance into the program.

Q: How much money can I raise?

A: Participants who reside in Los Angeles may raise a maximum of $40,000. Participants who do not reside in Los Angeles may raise an additional $5,000 in support of their productions to cover living expenses (for a maximum of $45,000). We recommend participants raise at least $25,000 but raising the maximum amount allowable is not a requirement of the program. In fact, many successful productions have not raised the maximum amount. Complete budgets must be raised before the start of the Workshop Intensive in May.

Q: I have access to free edit time at a post-production facility. May I edit my project off-campus?

A: 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. Editing schedules are strictly monitored and all participants must screen cuts of their film for evaluation of progress. All projects must picture-lock by the assigned date – approximately 45 days after camera wrap. The finished shorts may be no longer than 15 minutes including credits.

Q: May I shoot my project on film?

A: No. The timetable for prepping, shooting and posting DWW projects is extremely fast and is not conducive to shooting on film. All projects must be shot on digital.

Q: What happens to my finished film? Does it screen anywhere?

A: All DWW projects have the opportunity to premiere on AFI’s campus in the Mark Goodson Screening Room and will also be featured in a one-night industry showcase alongside other DWW projects.

After a participant’s short film has premiered, they may screen their project at festivals worldwide. Submission to festivals is the filmmaker’s responsibility. After the film has had its festival run (generally about 18 months), the project is eligible for distribution. AFI negotiates all distribution deals. We make every attempt to support distribution of the films.

Project by project, the episodic participants will create strategies for their premiere outlet and for building an audience for their work.

AFI retains the copyright to projects made within the DWW. AFI does not own the characters or underlying story rights. In other words, participants can make a feature version of their short screenplays or additional episodes of their series and own that copyright. AFI only owns the copyright to the finished piece that is produced within the Workshop.

Q: If I am not selected as a participant, is it possible to take the classroom portion of the workshop for a fee?

A: The workshop can only accommodate the eight projects selected to participate in the program. Interested parties can volunteer to work on the productions in July. This provides an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the program and to make connections with participants and alumnae. Participants begin crewing in the spring – if you are interested in volunteering on a DWW project, it would be wise to reach out to DWW at that time.

Q: How do I apply for the program?

A: To apply, please visit our HOW TO APPLY page and access our application portal at the bottom.

Q: Whom do I call if I have additional questions not answered above?

A: For additional information on the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, please call the DWW Manager at 323.856.7853 or email:

Q: How can I, or my business, donate money to this essential program?

A: The DWW could not exist without support from individuals and corporations committed to providing opportunities for women in the arts. You may make a donation to DWW online, or by either telephone or post mail.

For donations by telephone, please call:
Tom West at 323.856.7680

For donations online, click here

For donations by mail, please send to:

AFI Advancement
Attn: Directing Workshop for Women
2021 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027