Twentieth Century Fox Film and the American Film Institute have announced today that they’ve entered a new partnership to help increase the number of female directors working on major studio films. The initiative will provide alumnae of the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW), the Institute’s female filmmaker training program, the opportunity to direct short films based on the Studio’s film franchises. With access to the Studio’s resources and intellectual property, the filmmakers will be invited to contribute to building on to the franchises’ narrative worlds, and in turn, create sample work in genres where female directors are underrepresented.
“The dearth of female directors is not a matter of passion or talent,” said 20th Century Fox Film Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider. “Instead, it’s often a question of access and resources. We’re excited to offer these to talented women filmmakers who then can build upon this practical work experience.”
Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO, says that AFI believes “the future of this American art form is a true symphony of voices” and that they “have been committed to this issue from our founding” and “look forward to this landmark collaboration with Fox to impact the art and entertainment landscape in a profound way.”
Fox will finance, produce and distribute the short films, via its many platforms, and the filmmakers will be able to pitch Fox feature films unrelated to the shorts in the future.
As a start, 35–50 graduates will be selected for an introduction to the terms of the initiative. Out of those, ten finalists will present original pitches to senior executives at 20th Century Fox, and they will choose one or more filmmakers to make their concept into a short film.
The DWW program has produced many talented directors, including Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, co-creator of the acclaimed series “UnREAL,” and TV director Lesli Linka Glatter whose work on “Mad Men” and “Homeland” earned her four Emmy nominations.