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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

AFI Launches Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women

The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the inaugural AFI Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women (CIIW), sponsored by 21st Century Fox. The tuition-free program taking place on the AFI campus in Los Angeles, August 3-6, 2018, will introduce the fundamentals of visual storytelling to women who are interested in a career in cinematography. In addition, Twentieth Century Fox Film and AFI will partner to launch the Fox DP Lab for recently graduated female cinematographers of the AFI Conservatory.

The AFI Conservatory has been named the #1 film school in the world. In 1969, it opened its doors to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the AFI Conservatory offers a two-year MFA 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. Alumni of this elite program include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Julie Dash, Steve Golin, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, David Lynch, and Robert Richardson, among others.

The AFI Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women is a four-day workshop led by world-class AFI Cinematography faculty and master-level guests that will inform participants about a cinematography career. There will be production workshops, discussions, screenings of the work of pioneering female cinematographers and more. The workshop will encourage participants to continue their studies and become a working professional in the field, with the goal of increasing the number of females working as cinematographers in the industry. The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) will also support CIIW through their ASC Vision Committee, which is dedicated to the advancement of underrepresented cinematographers and their crews, regardless of race, gender or age.

The submissions window is open now, and the deadline to apply is June 15. Application and requirements are here.

Additionally, Fox and AFI will partner to launch the Fox DP Lab for 10 to 15 recently graduated female cinematographers from the AFI Conservatory. The Fox DP Lab will include master classes aimed to demystify the hiring process. Participants will meet with executives responsible for recommending and approving cinematographers in film and television; they will see a studio film and/or Fox series in process; and have the opportunity to hear from fellow cinematographers working at Fox for career guidance. Applications for this additional program (which is exclusively for AFI Cinematography alumnae) will open in August 2018.

"Following our incredibly successful partnership with AFI to develop the Fox Filmmakers Lab, this new initiative to grow and develop female DPs is a natural extension of our ongoing efforts to diversify and strengthen the talent pool in this vital creative discipline," said Stacey Snider, CEO and Chairman of Twentieth Century Fox Film. "Rachel Morrison's recent Academy Award® nomination should be the norm, not the exception, for female DPs, and our hope is that programs like the Fox DP Lab will create even more opportunities for the next generation of talented, up-and-coming female DPs throughout the entertainment industry."

The CIIW is spearheaded by the AFI's Conservatory Cinematography Discipline Head, Stephen Lighthill, ASC, and the Director of the Nancy Malone Inclusion Initiatives at AFI, Tessa Blake. "Less than 4% of film and television programs have a female cinematographer. Even in an industry rife with gender discrimination, the lack of parity is striking," said Lighthill. "The AFI Conservatory Cinematography program has been a leader in the field, and by piloting this initiative, which supports female cinematographers as they begin their exploration of the field, AFI and Fox will give diverse and deserving DPs greater opportunity to enter the industry." Hooray!

The AFI Conservatory Cinematography program has propelled female cinematographers to great success, including trailblazer Rachel Morrison, the first woman ever nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Cinematography for Mudbound and the first to shoot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Black Panther. Other promising alums include Ava Berkofsky (Insecure), Carolina Costa (Flower), Autumn Durald (Palo Alto), Mimi Leder (The Leftovers) and Lisa Wiegand (Law & Order True Crime), among others.

With such an impressive list of alums it's no wonder AFI wants to make sure that each and every one of them gets a fair shake at proving their skills. Hopefully, other institutions will follow their lead and make similar partnerships with other studios to improve the employment opportunities for deserving female talent. Brava!

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