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 are committed to providing a safe, equitable and educational environment for our participants.

Up to eight projects are selected for each year’s cycle. On average, 5% of applicants are selected to participate in the program. Applicants must have a minimum of three years’ professional experience working in the arts. This experience may not include credits earned within an academic program. Please note that applicants with professional credits as narrative directors — defined as a directing credit on a nationally broadcast or nationally distributed narrative non-documentary feature film or television program — are not eligible to apply.

Successful candidates have demonstrated collaborative skills and leadership ability in their professional careers. An affinity for identifying script material with a strong story (whether written by the applicant or another writer) is critical for consideration. Applicants must also possess a willingness and ability to fundraise and network in support of their productions.

Applications are reviewed in a three-tier process.

  • Applications are evaluated by a team of alumnae. Approximately 80 applicants will be put forward to the second tier.
  • The second tier consists of a formal interview with the DWW staff and selected alumnae. Roughly 20 of these interviewees will be considered for the final tier.
  • The final tier consists of a Final Selection Committee of established working directors, alumnae, and the DWW staff. Up to eight participants and two alternates are selected.

All applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents (with Permanent Resident Card) and must reside and work in the United States or its territories during the workshop period. All participants are required to maintain current health insurance throughout the program.

An approximate 16-month commitment to the workshop is necessary. The four-week workshop intensive in May requires full-time attendance at the AFI Campus, where the average workshop day is between eight and 12 hours.

Additionally, we will have two mandatory weekend workshops from January to April at AFI. In the year following completion of the films, there is an additional mandatory workshop weekend in February or March, as well as the DWW Showcase screening later in the spring.

Following the workshop, candidates will be engaged in pre-production, production and post-production for the narrative projects. There are required delivery dates in pre-production and post-production, but the participant is not otherwise required to be on campus for those phases.


Please read carefully as the application and requirements change from year to year.

A thoughtful demonstration of your personal thinking as it relates to your experience as a filmmaker. Tell us about yourself, your backstory, why you want to direct, why you want to be a part of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, and what your planned career path is. Limit of 1,000 words.

Tell us about your vision for the script you will shoot in the program. Why do you want to make it? Why is it important that you direct it? What will be your biggest production challenges? Limit of 500 words.

Please answer the following questions in one document. Limit of 500 words for all answers combined.

  • What is your present professional occupation?
  • How many years have you been working in the arts, and in what capacity?
  • The DWW is a tuition-free program but you will be required to raise between $25,000-$40,000 to make your short film or episodic project. Please articulate your fundraising plan.

A resume detailing your professional work and education. No more than two pages.

A short description of your experiences. Limit of 200 words.

One letter is required. Up to three letters of recommendation are accepted. Letters must be dated within six months of the application

Submitted scripts must follow the industry standard for formatting: Courier font, 12-pt type, standard margins.

    A narrative script that totals NO MORE THAN 17 PAGES and is either A) a short film intended to sell a television concept or B) the first one to two episodes of a web series. Please note: the script should NOT be a half-hour pilot cut down to 17 pages. The production limitations of the program make shooting such a script impossible.
    A narrative screenplay for a short film that totals NO MORE THAN 17 PAGES.

Applicants must submit at least one sample — and are welcome to submit two — of a moving image project that they personally directed (not co-directed) that demonstrates individual talent, ability and potential. This sample MUST be narrative. The second optional sample may be narrative, experimental, documentary, a reel, trailer, commercial, etc. CANDIDATES WHO DO NOT SUBMIT ONE NARRATIVE SAMPLE WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. Samples must be submitted as a Vimeo or YouTube link.

The screenplay does not have to be written by the applicant. However, if an outside writer’s material is used, all necessary rights must be obtained from the author and submitted with the application, including the rights to adapt previously existing material.

  • Literary Release:
    If your screenplay was not written by you, please have the other writers/rights-holders sign the AFI Literary Release and submit it below. Submissions not written by the applicant that do not have the accompanying signed document will not be considered.
  • Underlying Rights Agreement:
    If your script is based on existing material, the rights-holder must sign the Underlying Rights Agreement. Submissions based on underlying material without the accompanying signed document will not be considered.
  • Outside Writer’s Agreement:
    If a writer that is not the applicant or a co-writer has written the script, they will need to sign the Outside Writer’s Agreement.


  • Once your application is submitted you cannot go back to make any changes.
  • Applicants usually have trouble uploading documents when the document is not in PDF format and when there is a special character in the title. Please make sure the documents are in PDF format and smaller than 25mb. There should be no spaces and special characters in the title, including apostrophes, hyphens and commas. Keep your document name as simple as possible. Also, the Empower application system works best using either Safari or Firefox browsers. We do not recommend using Google Chrome.
  • You will receive a confirmation email once you submit your application. After we process your application into our system, you will then receive a second email from the Admissions Office about how to check missing documents, etc. If you apply after normal business hours, you will not receive this second email until we return to the office.

There is a fee of $125 to apply to DWW. This payment can be made before submitting your application online via credit card or PayPal. AFI does not return application materials.

We believe the application process should be a learning experience. The DWW provides application feedback on all submitted applications. (We do not, however, provide career advice or comment on how to develop submitted materials.) To get feedback on your application, you must sign up for a feedback slot during the month of February. Feedback cannot be given at any other time and is only given over the phone.

If you have any questions regarding the DWW application, please email If you are specifically having issues with our application portal, please direct your email to

Applications for the 2020-21 cycle are now closed.