Lifetime & AFI Put Female Filmmakers to Work

By 12 December 2015Listen, News & Events




Groundbreaking Alliance with the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop

for Women Will Place Women in Production Positions

Throughout the A+E Networks’ Portfolio

Los Angeles, CA (December 9, 2015) — Lifetime and the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (AFI DWW) will join forces next year to create and offer production jobs for each graduate of the Institute’s acclaimed program throughout the A+E Networks’ portfolio of platforms. The AFI DWW is a workshop that has for over 40 years, committed to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing.  As part of Lifetime’s Broad Focus initiative dedicated to cultivating and supporting women behind the camera, the alliance with AFI symbolizes the network’s commitment to make significant changes for women in the media industry.  The goal of the program is to align the skills and career aspirations of each woman with an opportunity that begins to build for them solid industry experience to help launch their professional careers.

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s success as a result of her experience within the AFI DWW provides the backdrop and the inspiration behind the alliance.  Her short film, Sequin Raze, was a product of her time at AFI and the driver for Lifetime to pilot and green light the hit drama UnREAL, the network’s most critically-acclaimed scripted series ever.

In addition to Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, AFI DWW alumnae and their projects created during the program have received many accolades this year.  Pippa Bianco (AFI DWW, Class of 2014) was awarded the Cinéfondation First Prize at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival for her AFI DWW short film SHARE.  Sian Heder’s (AFI DWW, Class of 2005) first feature film TALLULAH, based on her AFI DWW short MOTHER (also a Cannes Cinéfondation winner), will premiere in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016.

“To address what seems like an endless cycle of gender inequity in media, I believe we need to think beyond what our industry has already tried to do through mentorships and internships.  We need to stop talking and start moving the needle, and one solution is to simply give women jobs.  Our unprecedented alliance with the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women is just a first step and I and hope it will inspire others to join our charge,” stated Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO, A+E Networks.

“AFI has been a proud force in training female directors for more than four decades,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “Our graduates to date have seen great success and made great strides for women in the community, and we are honored to join with A+E Networks’ Lifetime in furthering the careers of the next generation of great storytellers — in a world that needs them now more than ever.”

Since announcing the Broad Focus initiative, this year to date, 42% of Lifetime’s original movie directors have been women, accounting for the top five movies on the network in Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Women 25-54.  Lifetime movies directed by women also account for three of the top five original movies in ad-supported cable with Adults 25-54, Women 25-54, Adults 18-49 and Women 18-49.


Founded in 1974, the innovative and tuition-free workshop is open to women with three years or more of professional experience in the arts, providing them an immersive opportunity to learn by doing — with each participant required to complete a short film or series by the end of the program.  Bios for the AFI DWW Class of 2015 can be found here.  For more info visit:


AFI Fellows make four to 10 films during their training.  Graduates of the Conservatory are part of an elite group of 4,845 alumni — with 81% of AFI alumni working in the field according to a recent survey.  Artists from the Conservatory have received a total of 133 Academy Award® nominations and 27 wins.  Throughout the completed 2014-2015 academic year, AFI alumni have been nominated for 202 awards by 38 major guilds, academies and other professional associations — with 72 award wins.  The AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in six filmmaking disciplines:  Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Aspiring artists learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling. Esteemed director, producer and screenwriter James L. Brooks serves as Artistic Director of the AFI Conservatory where he provides creative leadership for the elite film program.  Proud supporters of the AFI Conservatory are American Airlines, the official airline of AFI, and VIZIO, the official home theater sponsor of AFI.


Further positioning Lifetime as the industry leader in hiring and supporting women in creative roles, Broad Focus is a movement to identify and develop entertainment’s best and up-and-coming creative talent with a specific lens dedicated to developing content dedicated to the female experience.  The initiative’s mission is to encourage and cultivate women’s talent in media, scout content leaders who are creating the best female-focused stories for television and advocate and raise awareness about the need for more women in influential content making roles throughout the media landscape.


Lifetime is a premier female-focused entertainment destination dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning scripted series, non-fiction series and movies. As a result of the network’s aggressive programming strategy that has doubled the hours of its original programming, in 2014 the network reached its strongest ranking among the key Women 18-49 demo in six years and its youngest median age in 18 years. Lifetime Television®, LMN®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. A+E Networks is a joint venture of the Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst Corporation.

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