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The AFI Conservatory is committed to training within a culture where self-reflection, honesty and accountability are practiced and to expanding opportunities for promising filmmakers whose voices might otherwise go unheard.

The application period for the DWW+ Class of 2023-24 has closed.

The program will accept up to eight (8) outstanding candidates who demonstrate a passion for visual storytelling, the tenacity to pursue a directorial career, willingness to learn and grow, and meet all program requirements. Applicants will be notified of status in mid to late December 2022.

*timeline subject to change


AUGUST: Application portal opens Friday, August 12; Program Outreach and Informational Zoom Session Late August – Date to be announced in coming weeks

SEPTEMBER: Application portal closes Sunday, September 25 at 11:59 p.m. PT.


DECEMBER: Finalist Interviews and Notification of Acceptance


JANUARY-APRIL: Fundraising, Screenplay and Production hybrid in-person/virtual mini-workshops

  • Participants must complete fundraising by the start of the May Workshop Intensive.

MAY: DWW+ Intensive 3-4 weeks. Full-time classes and instruction. Evenings and weekends will be required. Classes include all topics related to directing and visual storytelling.

JUNE: Pre-Production (per each director’s production calendar)

JULY/AUGUST: Production (per each director’s production calendar)

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER: Editorial – Projects must lock picture within 45 days. AFI’s editing facilities may be available for the participant’s use. All final projects are capped at 15 minutes, including credits.

SEPTEMBER–NOVEMBER: Post-Production – Participants work to finish their films with AFI Staff guidance and following a list of assigned deliverables.

DECEMBER 1: Delivery of Film – Once fully delivered, participants may premiere their films on campus and will be eligible to participate in the annual DWW+ Showcase.


FEBRUARY/MARCH: Industry and Career Weekend – Designed to help the directors make the most of completed projects with topics that cover all aspects of the industry and career-building.

MARCH/APRIL: DWW+ Showcase – Eligible participants’ work is invited to screen in an annual Showcase for agents, managers, producers and executives in Los Angeles.

While DWW+ is a tuition-free program, participants must have the financial means to dedicate full-time concentration to the workshop and the production of their films.

  • This will preclude participants’ ability to work full-time for approximately four months (May–August) until the DWW+ project has reached picture lock.
  • Participants may raise up to $40,000 in support of their productions. We highly recommend participants raise at least $25,000.
  • All participants must be fully funded by the beginning of the workshop in May. Funds raised for an individual production are considered a donation to the American Film Institute, and a letter regarding the donation to a nonprofit arts organization will be provided to each donor.
  • We welcome participants from outside the Los Angeles area, but AFI does not provide housing or transportation to participants. *Visiting participants are permitted to raise up to an additional $10,000 to support travel and lodging expenses.
  • Many of our participants reach their funding goals through a combination of crowdfunding, matching grants, and individual donations. DWW+ provides classes on fundraising in January.
  • Meals are provided during any in-person class days during intensives.

DWW+ is first and foremost an educational program. Participants must come ready to learn, accept feedback and take instruction.

The workshop in May is a full-time commitment, including weekends and evenings. Classroom attendance during the workshop is mandatory and critical to participants’ success. Along with the workshop intensive in May, it is crucial that participants are available to attend, in-person or virtually, additional classes and workshops throughout the year.

Participants are required to raise their complete budgets by the first day of the May Workshop.

DWW+ is taught by film and television professionals working at top levels within the industry, as well as experienced Faculty from the AFI Conservatory. Previous teaching artists and guest speakers have included: Jamie Babbit, Neema Barnett, Diane Becker, Marcie Begleiter, Mary Lou Belli, Pippa Bianco, Tessa Blake, Bruce Block, Kathryn Bostic, Deniese Davis, Dime Davis, Jay Floyd, Maribeth Fox, Sue Hamilton, Eliza Hittman, Deborah Landis, Stephen Lighthill, Karyn Kusama, Rebecca Murga, Dr. Philana Payton, Issa Rae, Angela Robinson, Bethany Rooney, Barry Sabath, Lisanne Sartor, Rob Spera and Mandy Walker.

Participants enter the program with a short film script.

  • If your script has been co-written or written by an outside writer, the writer must sign a literary release, which is submitted upon acceptance into the program.
  • If your script is based on existing material, the rights holder must sign the underlying rights agreement.

The scripts are expected to grow and be revised throughout the workshop with the constructive engagement of peers, Faculty and Mentors — but the final creative decisions will always stay with the participant. Participants are not required to have written their own material. But they do need to have ongoing access to their writers or co-writers and creative freedom to evolve the script through the workshop process. Submitted scripts must follow the industry standard for formatting: Courier font, 12-pt type, standard margins. All scripts have a limit of 15 pages.

DWW+ participants will direct a short narrative project. Because DWW+ is designed to prepare participants for professional success, all projects must be produced within the parameters of AFI Safety and Production policies. Complete production details will be explained to participants during the orientations and throughout the workshop.

Productions will be scheduled within a very strict time frame. Production will take place in the Los Angeles area (within the 30-mile studio zone) during the summer. Participants will have the opportunity to select production dates from a list of available times in advance. Production is then permitted only during the specific dates assigned to each project.

Editing must be completed within 45 days of shoot wrap. Participants may be given access to AFI editing facilities or choose to edit at an outside facility. Outside editing facilities must be approved in advance. Schedules are strictly monitored, and all participants are required to screen cuts of their film for evaluation of progress. Some areas of post-production, such as sound, color and mixing, will need to be done outside of AFI facilities and within the production’s budget.

  • Final projects must be no longer than 15 minutes, including credits.
  • Participants are not allowed to act in, shoot or edit their films.
  • AFI owns the copyright to the projects produced within DWW+, but not to the underlying rights/intellectual property of the project. The participants are able to develop the projects into other formats beyond DWW+ including but not limited to feature films, television series or digital projects.

The DWW+ Showcase takes place in Spring 2024 and is an exciting celebration of participants’ achievements. The DWW+ Showcase introduces the directors into a wide network of film industry creatives and executives to further pursue their career goals. View 2022 Showcase 

Over its history, DWW+ has curated an incredible cadre of distinguished artists to speak at our annual showcase and engage with our participants. Here is a partial list of the distinguished artists who participated in recent years:

Ana Lily Amirpour, Jamie Babbit, Tamra Davis, Ava DuVernay, Paul Feig, Patty Jenkins, Maggie Kiley, Kimberly Peirce, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Angela Robinson, Joey Soloway, Daisy Von Scherler Mayer, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Lena Waithe.

Participants become AFI Conservatory Alums and enjoy all benefits thereafter, including the AFI Bridge to the Future program, plus mixers and events specific to the DWW+ Community.