Successful candidates will 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.

Up to eight projects are selected to attend this intensive hands-on training workshop, after which the participants direct their projects using a production package provided by AFI. On average, approximately 6% of applicants are selected to participate in the program.

Because the DWW is designed to prepare female directors for professional success, all projects must be produced within the parameters of AFI policies.

AFI provides mentorship, a unique contract with the Screen Actors Guild, production equipment, production insurance, potential for production-related discounts with local vendors and distribution opportunities for the completed project. AFI also provides access to the network of DWW Alumnae.

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.

Applications are reviewed in a three-tier process.

  • Applications are evaluated by the DWW staff and teams of alumnae; approximately 40 applicants will be put forward to the second tier.

  • The second tier consists of a formal interview with the DWW staff, selected alumnae and established working directors. Roughly 18 of these interviewees will be considered for the final tier.

  • The third tier consists of a Final Selection Committee of established working directors, alumnae and the DWW staff. Up to eight participants and an alternate 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 through the course of the DWW.

An approximate eight-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 twelve hours. Additionally, we will have four mandatory weekend workshops January – April at AFI.

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.

Narrative Statement:
With a limit of 1,000 words, this statement should be a thoughtful and mature demonstration of your development as a director. It might include some of the following:

  • Autobiographical sketch giving a sense of your background, where you draw inspiration, etc.
  • What would you hope to experience and achieve through DWW?
  • Why do you want to tell this story? What is your vision for this film or series?
  • What do you see as your biggest production challenge?
  • Career goals and how you plan to achieve them

With a limit of two pages, please detail professional work experience and education.

With a limit of 200 words, please provide a brief bio.

Letter(s) of Recommendation:
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.

  • Short Film Applicants
    Please submit a narrative screenplay of no more than 15 pages. Shorter submissions strongly encouraged.

  • Episodic Applicants
    Please submit a narrative screenplay of no more than 20 pages. Shorter submissions strongly encouraged.

Directing Example:
Applicants must submit at least one example — and are welcome to submit two — of a moving image project that 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, etc.

Great directors must be great storytellers. The ability to identify or create material for development is vital to a director's success. 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.

AFI cannot provide critical comment or advice on submitted materials. AFI does not return or release application materials.

Applications for the DWW 2018 Cycle will open in July of 2017.