Sarah Gertrude Shapiro Opens AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women Showcase 2016


Event Presented by Lifetime Introduces 10 New Directors and Their Work

Last Updated: April 14, 2016 8:54 pm GMT
(Los Angeles, California--April 14, 2016) Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, co-creator and executive producer of Lifetime's groundbreaking series UNREAL, delivered candid remarks on the state of women in Hollywood to a packed house of filmmakers and industry executives at the 2016 AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) Showcase. Sponsored by Lifetime, the standing-room-only event took place Tuesday, April 12, at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles, and served as an introduction to the 10 DWW Class of 2015 graduates and their original work in episodic and short film storytelling.

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (center) with the DWW Class of 2015 (from L to R): Erica Liu, Chelsea Woods, Dime Davis, Christine Boylan, Bella Monticelli, Shapiro, Mia Lidofsky, Rebecca Murga, Amy Barrett, Claire Fowler, Philiane Phang

Shapiro (AFI DWW, Class of 2012) gave advice to female directors looking to break into the industry — and highlighted the value of the DWW program, which is supported by the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, NBCUniversal and Google.

"I had a better chance of becoming an underwater welder, statistically," Shapiro said, "than a working female director. It's basically like becoming a really rare radical warrior." She urged the female filmmakers in the room to "take Hollywood hostage. Bend it to your will."

As announced in December 2015, Lifetime made a groundbreaking commitment through its Broad Focus initiative to guarantee employment to DWW filmmakers, starting with the Class of 2015 featured in the Showcase: Amy Barrett, Christine Boylan, Dime Davis, Claire Fowler, Mia Lidofsky, Erica Liu, Bella Monticelli, Rebecca Murga, Philiane Phang and Chelsea Woods.

DWW also announced director/producer/writer Angela Robinson (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, THE L WORD, TRUE BLOOD) as the program's new Artist-in-Residence, as well as the following grants and awards:

Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation Grants:
Tannaz Hazemi (AFI DWW, Class of 2016)
Manjari Makijany (AFI DWW, Class of 2016)

Jean Picker Firstenberg Award:
Amy Barrett (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)

Nancy Malone Award:
Mia Lidofsky (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)
Rebecca Murga (AFI DWW, Class of 2015)

About the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women
F ounded in 1974, the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women is a hands-on training program committed to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing. 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.

DWW participants have gone on to great success, including Pippa Bianco (AFI DWW, Class of 2014), who received the Cinéfondation Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for her DWW short SHARE; Lesli Linka Glatter (AFI DWW, Class of 1982), whose Emmy®-winning work as a producer and director on HOMELAND earned her PGA and DGA Award nominations in 2016; Sian Heder (AFI DWW, Class of 2005), whose film TALLULAH, based on her DWW short MOTHER, sold to Netflix ahead of its Sundance 2016 premiere; and Shapiro, whose UNREAL topped numerous year-end best lists and was an Official Selection of AFI AWARDS 2015.

The AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women receives generous support from Jean Picker Firstenberg, Google, Linda Hope, Indiegogo, Lifetime, Mark and Lynne Liss, NBCUniversal, the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, Rosalind Wyman, the Jean Picker Firstenberg Endowment and The Nancy Malone Endowment provided by The Bob and Dolores Hope Charitable Foundation, and many other individuals committed to providing opportunities for women in the media arts. For more information visit:

Applications for the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women will open in early July with a final deadline on August 8, 2016.


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