The need for greater representation and more female voices in the film industry has never felt more pressing, and the clamor is steadily growing for action. Much of this conversation has centered around Hollywood hiring practices, but at Short of the Week it is our mission to highlight and champion the newest and most original voices in short film for our global audience of film lovers and industry members, and we’ve noticed that the world of short film is also far from equitable.
We believe deeply in the short film format as an incubator for new and emerging storytellers, but, whether online or at festivals, we are still far from equal representation. We want to start changing that. Applying to Short of the Week and taking advantage of our unique submission process is a great way to garner exposure for your work to an influential audience, and we have a track record of celebrating female creativity.
But aside from making sure that we’re screening as many films as possible by talented woman creators, it is clear that creatives at all levels need to be further supported, so to that end we have put together this document to help female filmmakers find the best possible resources and services to aid them in the creative process. From mentoring programs, to funding options, to film festivals and platforms geared towards screening and promoting women’s work, you’ll find them all below.
These are programs or initiatives that we vouch for, but we also hope for this to be a living document — if you are aware of, or involved with, an organization you don’t see on this list, feel free to let us know in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to vet it and add it – we want this to be the best resource possible – and we’re especially interested to find out what else is happening outside of the US, and in the rest of the world, which might not be on our radar yet.
Support, Mentorship & Development
Alliance of Women Directors
An organization solely dedicated to education, support and advocacy for women directors in the entertainment industry. Members must have directed at least one long or short-form narrative film, television program, documentary, commercial or new media program. Programs include screenings, networking events, panels and discounts and submission fee waivers from a long list of film festival partners.
Alliance for Women in Media, Southern California
Founded in 1952, AWM SoCal is part of a national, non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the impact of women in electronic media and allied fields by educating, advocating and acting as a resource to its members and the industry. AWM, Southern California works to improve the quality of broadcast programming, entertainment and online content and to provide promising college students — both women and men – with scholarships to help further their studies in media or entertainment.
Filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff (I Believe in Unicorns) founded this network for female filmmakers in 2013. Members must have written or directed at least one feature narrative or documentary film. Meyerhoff says “Film Fatales began as a meeting of six women directors in New York and has since expanded to include hundreds of filmmakers in dozens of cities around the world. We get together monthly to mentor each other, share resources, collaborate on projects and build a supportive community in which to make our films. Rather than wait for Hollywood to achieve gender equality for woman directors, Film Fatales have given themselves a green light.”
Hedgebrook Screenwriters Lab
Hedgebrook is a Washington state based literary nonprofit with a mission to support visionary women writers. Last year they launched their inaugural women screenwriter’s retreat, where five screenwriters received mentorship from industry veterans and the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded artists while on retreat in Whidbey Island, Washington. The application cycle is not yet open for the October 2016 retreat, but you can sign up for updates through their website.
New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT)
An active membership based organization that supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media. Their mission is to energize the careers of women in entertainment by illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development, and advocating for equality.
Women in Film
Founded in 1973 in LA, WIF now has chapters around the world, and focuses on advocacy and education— providing scholarships, grants, and film finishing funds—and works to preserve the legacies of all women working in the entertainment community.
Women in Film and Television International
A global network of over forty chapters with more the 10,000 members worldwide, dedicated to advancing professional development and achievement for women working in all areas of film, video, digital and other screen based media. While this acts as an umbrella organization, there are no individual memberships and those interested in joining should contact their individual chapter.
Women in Focus Conference
An annual conference at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts featuring a panel of the most prominent women in film and media in open discussion with students and the community regarding their experiences in the industry.
Women Make Movies
A multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films by and about women.
Run by New York Women in Film and Television and IRIS, a collective of women filmmakers, this screenwriter’s lab for women over 40 enjoys the unique distinction of being spearheaded and funded by Meryl Streep. 2015 was their inaugural year and some of the heavy hitting mentors who loaned their talents to the program included writer-director Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life of Bees, Beyond the Lights), and producer Caroline Kaplan (Boyhood).
Photo taken at FESTIVAL INTERNAZIONALE DEL FILM DI ROMA ’09 | by Vincent Luigi Molino. Via Flickr
Funding & Production
AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women
A hands-on training program committed to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing. Each participant is required to complete a short film or series by the end of the program. Open to women with three years or more of professional experience in the arts. The program is tuition-free, but participants are responsible for raising the funds for their projects.
Big Vision Empty Wallet #kickstartdiversity
Qualifying projects for this talent incubator must be written, directed or produced by a woman, person of color or member of the LGBTQ community. Feature length films, TV pilots, digital series, and innovative multi-platform projects are eligible, and selected projects will receive significant discounts from vendors and service providers, as well as access to an exclusive distribution lab focusing on audience building and distribution strategies.
Chicken & Egg Pictures
Dedicated specifically to female documentary filmmakers whose “artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change.” This multi-faceted organization’s programs include their Accelerator Lab, offering mentorship, development and grants of up to $35,000 for first and second time filmmakers. They also run a Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards, a Diversity Fellow Initiative, and a Reel Reproductive Justice program, a series of eight docs funded and curated by Chicken & Egg that deal specifically with women’s access to reproductive health care.
Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers
Offers approximately $10,000 worth of gear and accessories loaned on a rolling basis to any narrative short, music video or feature film project to be shot by a female cinematographer. Recipients receive the package for up to 21 production days.
Gamechanger is the first equity fund that exclusively finances narrative features directed by women. Projects they have financed include Land Ho! (Sundance 2014, Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz), The Invitation (SXSW 2015, Karyn Kusama), and Lovesong(Sundance 2016, So Yong Kim.)
This non-profit feminist documentary film company, founded in the 70s, is dedicated to producing films that “address social justice issues and challenge individuals to examine their own beliefs.”
Refinery 29 Shatterbox
Refinery 29 announced at Sundance in January that they will be launching Shatterbox Anthology, 12 short films created by female directors, writers and animators. The program will kick off with Chloe Sevigny’s directorial debut, Kitty. Refinery 29 will be advised by veteran producers Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, with additional support from the Sundance Institute.
Seed & Spark
This forward thinking crowdfunding platform isn’t just for women, but leveraging female artists is definitely at the forefront of their agenda. They’re vocal about the importance of mentoring and hiring women, and last year they partnered with Tangerine Entertainment in an effort to bring their services to even more female content creators.
A film production company which specializes in “commercially viable, critically acclaimed stories for all audiences, with an emphasis on female filmmakers and strong roles for women.” Producers Amy Hobby and Anne Hubbell have produced a long list of award winning narrative features and documentaries.
Vimeo: Share the Screen
An initiative launched by Vimeo with the intention of “fostering equality by investing in female-led programming, educational workshops, meetups, interviews, and more.” Vimeo has also pledged to invest in a minimum of five projects from female creators in 2016, a significant increase from the two original titles funded in 2015.
Women in Film: Finishing Fund
Provides grants for filmmakers working in both short and long formats, in all genres.To apply for the Finishing Fund, the filmmaker must have completed 90% of principal photography and have a rough cut at the time of application. You do not have to be a Women in Film member to apply, and they encourage applications from around the world. The next application will be available in late Spring.
X Factor Films
A “Hollywood 2.0 studio and platform for badass female entertainment, its creators and fans”, X Factor have partnered with numerous woman filmmakers to produce, brand and release original movies. Their website also provides a robust one stop shop for opportunities, discourse and female-centric curated content.
Youtube: Women Create
Youtube announced exciting female forward initiatives last week. The platform have financed more the 50 videos highlighting female perspectives, shot at YouTube Space studios around the world. They’ve also launched a yearlong partnership with the United Nations, where seven top YouTube female creators will create content that promotes the need for gender equality around the globe. In addition, they’ve partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to provide consulting to creators.
Getting Your Film Seen (Festivals)
Athena Film Festival
This NYC based film festival offers a weekend of feature films, documentaries and shorts that highlight female leadership. 2016’s prestigious co-chairs included Amma Asante, Ava DuVernay, and Rachel Weisz. The festival takes place annually in February.
Bentonville Film Festival
Founded by Academy Award Winner® and tireless gender rights activist Geena Davis and co-founder Trevor Drinkwater in 2015, this Bentonville, Arkansas based festival is on a mission to champion women and diverse voices in media. It’s USP – and this is really cool – is that it’s the only film competition in the world to offers guaranteed distribution to the winning films. This includes a theatrical release in partnership with AMC theaters, television in partnership with STARZ and LIFETIME and digital and retail home entertainment distribution in partnership with Walmart.
Citizen Jane Film Festival
This festival takes place in November in Columbia, Missouri, which is fast becoming one of the country’s coolest offbeat festival destinations (also home to the beloved True/False film festival). The festival screens shorts, features and docs of all genres that are directed or co-directed by female filmmakers. Festival alumni can’t say enough nice things about this filmmaker friendly festival, so take note: the regular submission deadline is approaching on April 1!
Etheria Film Night
An annual showcase screening dedicated specifically to genre films directed by women, with audiences ranging from industry professionals to hardcore genre fans. The next addition will take place in Los Angeles in June.
Fusion Film Festival
New York University’s premiere film and television festival dedicated to celebrating women in film, television, and new media from students to industry professionals. The festival takes place in early March, and this year’s program included a brunch with power producer Christine Vachon.
Lady Filmmakers Foundation and Festival
Based in Beverly Hills, the Lady Filmmakers Festival takes place every October. All films must have at least one woman in a key leadership role: writer, director, production designer or editor to be eligible to participate. The 8th annual festival is now accepting submissions. The Foundation also runs mentoring programs and offers production support and partial funding opportunities.
This travelling film festival has been on the go since 2000, and showcases a diverse array of films by female talents. The organization’s main beneficiary is the breast cancer fund, and they also help hosts raise money for nonprofits in their own communities. If you’re interested in hosting a screening, you can reach out to them through their website.
The Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival places a spotlight on women directors by showcasing their work and strengthening the community of women in film. This March festival just wrapped their most recent edition, honoring director Catherine Hardwicke (Miss You Already, Thirteen) and screening fifty features, docs and shorts made by women.
Short of the Week
We take submissions as well! Before you submit your film to festivals, consider sending it to Short of the Week, the premiere online destination for short films. We give you critical feedback on what works and what doesn’t. When you’re ready to unleash it online, we help you find your audience, promote your film across the web, and help connect you with industry agents, distributors, and producers.
Based in London, this festival celebrating female talent is open for submissions until late June. They offer a special XX award for films that place interesting female characters at the center of the narrative.
Vimeo: Ladies with Lenses
A Vimeo channel for “super cool women who create beauty and magic on film”, curated by Vimeo staffer Meghan Oretsky and dedicated to showcasing content by female creators.
Other Great Resources
Camp Reel Stories
This pioneering nonprofit teaches girls between the ages of 12-18 all aspects of filmmaking in week-long summer programs at the Oakland School for the Arts. Under the guidance of industry professionals, the young women write, shoot and edit a film in just five days. Founded by Esther Pearl, who honed her craft at Pixar, the camp also features media literacy classes and leadership workshops, and facilitates festival submissions for the finished films. Applications are currently open for 2016.
This Toronto based journal on film and feminism features gorgeous design, and sharp, eloquent writing focused on women’s perspectives. They are also open for submissions.
Specifically geared towards women in tech, this global community seeks to support aspiring and established tech innovators, and encourage more women to get involved with tech design, development and leadership.
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
The institute, and affiliated program See Jane, are research-based organizations working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment, targeting children 11 and under.
A podcast featuring relaxed, informal conversations with women artists, describing and analyzing their inspiration, motivation and artistic process. Actors, improvisers, filmmakers, visual artists and musicians have all featured. Hosted by Jo Bozarth.
This podcast features female creative minds working in media. Each episode features an intimate conversation and explores each woman’s background, philosophy and process. The show is hosted and created by documentary makers Elaine Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg. Each episode also features a curated selection of music by female artists. Interviewees have included writers, actors, producers, photographers, musicians and interdisciplinary artists, all embracing the power of new media to leverage their work.