By Athena Film Festival blogger Carrie Nelson 

Approximately 85 women braved the falling snow on Friday to attend From Script to Screen: Producing a Short Film, led by representatives from the AFI Directing Workshop for Women (DWW). The two-hour event took the fledgling filmmakers through the independent producing process, step-by-step. Attendees walked out of the event with a greater understanding of the logistic and business concerns of filmmaking, as well as the resources that AFI offers young women who are new to the industry.

The panelists included Joe Petricca, Executive Vice Dean of AFI Conservatory; Annetta Marion, DWW alumna and television producer; Chris Schwartz, Manager of AFI Conservatory and National Workshops; and Patty West, Associate Manager of AFI Conservatory. All brought their individual expertise and enthusiasm to the discussion as they reviewed the process of fundraising, budgeting, scheduling, shooting, editing, and distributing a short narrative film. Along the way, they made sure to use the experiences of DWW graduates as examples of best practices for producing. For example, the successful Kickstarter campaigns organized by DWW alumni Trisha Gum and Kit Pongetti were screened as examples of strong approaches to fundraising.

As for the nuts and bolts of producing, some of the tips offered by the panelists included:

  • Separate your personal finances from your film’s budget by creating a DBA account.
  • Consider your marketing strategy early on. Said West, “Think about your marketing campaign [during pre-production]…It’s a business from start to finish.”
  • Never be afraid to solicit your personal and professional networks for contributions while fundraising. “You’re not going to get anything if you don’t ask for it,” explained Marion.
  • Make sure you speak the same language as your cinematographer and gaffer. Even though you’ll be hiring crew members, “Try to get comfortable with the technical elements of filmmaking,” West suggested.
  • Don’t try to carry the entire weight of the film on your own. West believes that “Successful producing is really great delegation.”

The advice offered during From Script to Screen is critical for any newcomer to the world of production. For those women who want further guidance and education as they develop their professional careers, the panelists recommend applying to the DWW program. Marion, a graduate of the program, shared that projects have come to her since finishing the program, and that DWW introduced her to her true passion of producing for documentary television. “I don’t know if I would have come to that on my own,” she concluded.

For further information about applying to DWW, visit their website.

Carrie Nelson is a writer and filmmaker, committed to using media to advocate for social justice. Follow her work at