Hi everybody. I hope you had a week filled with priceless career progress, or at least filled with a touch of hope. After taking a detour last week to discuss the distribution of films around Halloween, today we’ve reset our focus on part two of women filmmakers (here is part one, published on October 25th.

Today’s article will focus on three amazing organizations that nurture, support and develop women filmmakers. The culprits are The American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women; Women Make Movies and Women In Film. All three entities have fought the good fight for women filmmakers for nearly 40 years, so a little bit of “bionic” accolades are certainly in order. So, let’s dive into the sea of opportunity that these organizations provide women filmmakers.

American Film Institute Directing Workshop For Women
The AFI-DWW is simply the most coveted and respected directing opportunity for women filmmakers today. Created in 1974, this ridiculously successful program is proud to report that 25% of its alumnae have earned professional directing credits. To put that staggering success rate into perspective, that’s like having one out of every four of your film school buddies actually wrangling a professional directing gig.

The other amazing thing about the American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women is that it’s tuition-free. That’s right; if you’re one of the chosen few who get to call themselves AFI-DWW Fellows, you’ll attend the workshop for free. Since “free” is one of the most loved four letter words in the English vocabulary today, this program should be considered a “must-apply to” for all women filmmakers.

The Good News:
The AFI Directing Workshop For Women is highly respected, it will brand you as an “AFI Fellow,” and of course, it’s free.

The Concerning News:
The AFI DWW only accepts about 8 women per year, so it’s extremely difficult to get into. Then again, if it were easy to get into, I wouldn’t be writing about it, because it wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is now.

The Verdict:
Getting into the American Film Institute Directing Workshop For Women is like getting into graduate film school at UCLA, USC, or NYU – or getting accepted to business school at Harvard, or Law School at Yale. Hence, getting in to the AFI-DWW is a big deal and everyone knows it (by “everyone” I mean the powers-that-be in the film industry who can change your life quicker than you can finish reading the end of this sentence).

Furthermore, becoming an AFI DWW “fellow” opens doors, rolodexes and contacts for you, as this program is the crème de la crème of directing opportunities for women filmmakers.

Side Note: I have worked with the AFI-DWW, because my sister Najla Zaidi, is an AFI-DWW alumni. Edward Stencel and I produced my sister’s DWW short, The Christmas Tree.

Women Make Movies
Women Make Movies has grown into a powerful entity with a substantial distribution service. Check out this description from The Women Make Movies Website:

About Women Make Movies
Established in 1972 to address the under representation and misrepresentation of women in the media industry, Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. The organization provides services to both users and makers of film and video programs, with a special emphasis on supporting work by women of color. Women Make Movies facilitates the development of feminist media through an internationally recognized Distribution Service and a Production Assistance Program.

WMM is a powerful resource that all women filmmakers should embrace. As for their most powerful program, that would be their Distribution Service. Simply put, Women Make Movies is the leading distributor for women filmmakers in the United States. In fact, according to their website, WMM has returned $1.5 million dollars in royalty payments to women producers in the last three years (needless to say, that’s $1.5 million more that 99% of distributors have returned to their producers during the same time frame).

Furthermore, WMM’s Production Assistance Program is also a wonderful resource to tap, because as their website states, it offers “fiscal assistance, low-cost media workshops, and information assistance for media artists.”

The Verdict:
Women Make Movies is an oasis for all women filmmakers should be treated as such. They are smart, powerful and dedicated; three traits that every filmmaker needs to have in their corner.

Side Note: I first met Debra Zimmerman, the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, at the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee Film Festival in the late 1990’s. Since that time, Ms. Zimmerman has always impressed me with her tireless commitment and dedication to bettering the lives of women filmmakers.

Women in Film
Established in 1973, Women In Film now has 37 chapters in multiple countries and continents, with over 10,000 members. This organization is the “queen bee” in the world of advocating for women filmmakers. Their reach is unsurpassed, and their obvious strength in numbers is unmatched by any other women filmmaker related organization. Since their reach is so outlandishly long – a reach that would even impress Plastic Man himself – here are the listing and links to all of the Women In Film chapters worldwide:

United States Chapters

International Chapters


New Zealand




  • Women in Film and Television Jamaica



If this list of WIF chapters doesn’t convince you that Women In Film is an organization that all of you women filmmakers out there should seek membership to, then I don’t know what will. I do know that if you’re a women filmmaker, or strive to become one, then Women In Film should be one of the first stops you make on your journey to filmmaking success.

Side Note: I just learned that the Kansas City chapter of Women In Film is co-sponsoring a lecture I’m giving in Kansas City this Wednesday, November 9th, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for helping to bring me back to my hometown!

Okay, that’s what I’ve got for you today. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday.

I can also be followed on Twitter @Loneyseal.

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