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Applications for the 2021-2022 Cycle have closed. The Admissions process for submitted applications will run September through November 2020. Selection Notifications will be sent out in December, 2020.


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 who apply are selected to participate in the program. Applicants must have a minimum of five 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-round process.

  • Applications are evaluated by a team of readers. Approximately 40 applicants will be put forward to the second round.
  • The second round consists of a formal interview with the DWW Staff and selected alumnae. Roughly 20 of these applicants will be considered for the final round.
  • The final round consists of a Final Selection Committee of established working directors, alumnae and the DWW staff. Up to eight participants and two alternates will be 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 shooting must take place in Los Angeles, CA. All participants are required to maintain current health insurance throughout the program.

An approximate 12-month commitment to the workshop is necessary. Mandatory workshop classes will be held virtually January through May, with a 1-2 week in-person intensive, if health and safety restrictions allow.

Following the completed curriculum, participants will be engaged in pre-pro, production, and post-production for their projects.

Following the completion of the films, an additional virtual workshop weekend will be held in the Fall. A DWW Showcase will be held online if an in-person event is not possible.


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 500 words.

Tell us about your creative vision for the script you are submitting. Why do you want to make it? Why is it important that you direct it? As a director, what do you anticipate your biggest production challenges will be and how do you plan on addressing those challenges? Limit 500 words.

Please answer the following questions in one document. Limit of 1,000 words for all answered combined.

  • What is your present professional occupation?
  • For 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 $15,000-$25,000 to make your narrative project. Please provide a detailed fundraising plan.
  • What are the ethical and moral challenges in the making of the subject matter of this film, if any, and how will your production team engage with it or plan to address it? If ethical and moral challenges are present, how will you ensure the narrative is restorative and not exploitative?

A resume detailing your professional work and education. If you don’t have a lot of production-related experience, please clarify how past work experiences and skill sets will contribute to your career as a director. No more than two pages.

Your bio should hook the reader immediately with anecdotes that clearly paint a picture of where you’ve been, illustrate the kind of person you are (values, beliefs personality) and distinctly point to where you hope to go in your future. Limit of 200 words.

One letter is required, up to three are accepted. Letters must be dated within six months of the application and signed by the letter-writer.

Submitted scripts must follow the industry standard for formatting: Courier font, 12-pt type, standard margins, written with potential COVID-19 safety guidelines in mind (no live crowd scenes, limited locations (1-3), limited intimacy scenes, smaller casts, etc). While AFI Filming Protocols are still being determined, participant must be prepared to shoot in a socially-distant setting. The narrative script should total NO MORE THAN 7 PAGES and may be for either a) a stand-alone short film, or b) a proof-of-concept intended to sell a television series or feature film.

Must include logline, synopsis, why this film, director’s bio, writer’s bio (if applicable), characters, tone, etc. No more than 10 slides.

Applicants may submit up to two samples of a moving image project that they personally directed (not co-directed) that demonstrates individual talent, ability and potential. The first sample MUST be narrative. Readers are only required to watch up to 10 minutes of this sample. The second optional sample may be narrative, experimental, documentary, a reel, trailer, commercial, music video, etc. CANDIDATES WHO DO NOT SUBMIT ONE NARRATIVE SAMPLE WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. Samples must be submitted as a Vimeo or YouTube link.

Create a video, of up to two minutes, telling us who you are, why you are a good candidate for the DWW and your motivation for joining the program. Simply record yourself telling your story on camera. Please avoid scripting or ‘performing’ for the video. Videos longer than two minutes may not be watched in their entirety.

The submitted script 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 writer and submitted with the application, including the rights to adapt previously existing material.

  • AFI Literary Release:
    The AFI Literary Release must be signed by any and all writers/rights-holders for your script. Submissions that do not have this accompanying signed document will not be considered.
  • Underlying Rights Agreement:
    If your script is adapted from or 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 or co-writer that is not the applicant has written the script, they will need to sign the Outside Writer’s Agreement. Submissions not written by the applicant without the accompanying signed document will not be considered.


  • 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. Please do not use Google Chrome.
  • You will receive a confirmation email once you submit your application from the Admissions Office. Should there be any issues with your application, Admissions will reach out to you directly. We recommend checking your spam folder for confirmation emails as they sometimes get stuck there.

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. Credit cards accepted via PayPal: Visa, Mastercard and Discover. We do not accept American Express.

We believe the application process should be a learning experience. The DWW provides application feedback, by request, for applicants who make it to the first round of selection (we do not provide career advice or comment on how to develop submitted materials). This feedback will be in the form of written feedback. Applicants who are chosen for Final Selection but are not selected into the program may request feedback in the form of a phone call with the Program Director. To receive feedback, you must sign up before the deadline provided in your Final Notification email. Once the deadline has passed, feedback may no longer be requested.

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