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Directing

AFI gives Directing Fellows the crucial time, space and resources to craft their own distinct voice, while guaranteeing them the opportunity to direct over the course of two years. In a program that emphasizes visual language and collaboration, Fellows team with other disciplines to shoot three narrative films and produce a thesis film in their final year to create a polished directing portfolio.

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Fellows’ Direct 5-10 Films in 2 Years

As a Directing Fellow, you are guaranteed to direct throughout your two years at AFI – a promise you won’t find at any other graduate-level film program. In the first year alone, directors team with Fellows from other disciplines to shoot three narrative films.

“I’m so grateful for my years at AFI. I deeply believe they helped me find my voice and defining principles of story and craft that inform me to this day.”

Patty Jenkins,
AFI Directing Class of 2000
MONSTER | WONDER WOMAN

Alumni in the News

Sam Esmail Reunites Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts

Netflix wins the rights to LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND, which will be written and directed by Sam Esmail (AFI Class of 2004) and sees Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts reunite for the first time in 23 years since they starred together in THE PELICAN BRIEF. READ MORE

Jing Ai Ng on Directing Award-Winning Student Thesis Film, FLECK

Raised between Malaysia and Miami, Jing Ai Ng (Directing, AFI Class of 2019) is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. In 2019, she was awarded the Student Film Award by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) for her AFI thesis film, FLECK. READ MORE

AFI Alum Represent at Bentonville Film Festival

Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival lineup includes the work of AFI alumni, including Brandon Gale (Screenwriting, AFI Class of 2019), Sydney Meadow (Screenwriting, AFI Class of 2018), Portlynn Tagavi (Directing, AFI Class of 2019) and Omer Ben-Shacher (Directing, AFI Class of 2018). READ MORE

Learn from the Masters

AFI also brings your favorite master storytellers to campus to deliver personal, inspiring guest lectures and enlightening seminars. They’ll share their personal experiences and answer your questions about the filmmaking process.

Alumni Directors Include:

Darren Aronofsky
  • BLACK SWAN
  • REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
David Lynch
  • MULHOLLAND DRIVE
  • BLUE VELVET
Patty Jenkins
  • WONDER WOMAN
  • MONSTER
Andrea Arnold
  • BIG LITTLE LIES
  • FISH TANK
Terrence Malick
  • THE TREE OF LIFE
  • BADLANDS
Edward Zwick
  • BLOOD DIAMOND
  • GLORY
Sam Esmail
  • HOMECOMING
  • MR. ROBOT
Paul Schrader
  • FIRST REFORMED
John McTiernan
  • THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
  • DIE HARD
Todd Field
  • LITTLE CHILDREN
  • IN THE BEDROOM
Jonathan Levine
  • LONG SHOT
  • 50/50
Amy Heckerling
  • CLUELESS
  • FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
Jeremy Podeswa
  • GAME OF THRONES
  • BOARDWALK EMPIRE
Ari Aster
  • MIDSOMMAR
  • HEREDITARY
Susan Johnson
  • TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE
Miguel Arteta
  • FOREVER
  • BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Zal Batmanglij
  • THE OA
  • THE EAST
John Dahl
  • JUSTIFIED
  • ROUNDERS
Brian Dannelly
  • WEEDS
  • SAVED!
Kirby Dick
  • THE HUNTING GROUND
  • THE INVISIBLE WAR
Mark Waters
  • MEAN GIRLS
“The best part about AFI was the people. On my feature, I hired Annie Spitz, an amazing production designer and good friend. When I started my television show, I hired four AFI Fellows on the writing staff.”

– Sam Esmail
AFI Directing Class of 2004
MR. ROBOT | HOMECOMING

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