This summer, hundreds of professional filmmakers in New York City will join forces to create six short films as part of the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge. A grassroots initiative founded in 2017 by filmmakers Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre, WWFC aims to address the lack of women and nonbinary people behind the camera and on screen through a variety of programs, including its signature film challenge.
This will be the organization’s fifth film challenge, and the first since the pandemic forced productions across the country to shut down. To date, WWFC has held four film challenges — three in New York City and one in Los Angeles — and worked with more than 700 female filmmakers to produce 30 short films that have been screened at more than 90 film festivals.
“We are so excited to once again be hosting the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge to provide a diverse group of talented filmmakers with the opportunity to tell their stories on screen,” Sayre said. “Many creative relationships have been fostered through our four previous challenges, and the results — 30 expertly crafted short films — prove there is no shortage of skilled women in every role of production.”
This summer, women and nonbinary filmmakers will be placed on teams to write, shoot, and edit a short film in just one weekend. It’s free to apply to and participate in the challenge, and the organization provides top-of-the-line equipment, workshops and more. Organizers are expecting more than 1,000 applications and will select about 200 participants.
The challenge weekend will take place August 11-14. Filmmakers in every role of production — from gaffers and sound mixers to writers and actors — can apply between June 1 and June 27 to participate in the challenge. WWFC enlists the help of guest judges to thoroughly review each application. This year’s judges include cinematographers Nancy Schreiber, ASC, and Carmen Cabana; casting director Adrienne Stern; and filmmakers Anna Sang Park, Annie Sundberg, Danielle Eliska and Mahak Jiwani. WWFC then places accepted individuals onto crews to ensure that each team has the talent necessary to make a stellar short film.
Top-of-the-line equipment, software, production insurance, production stipends and film festival submission stipends are provided courtesy of WWFC and its sponsors, including Zeiss, Sony, Arri, Cinelease, Gotham Sound, Casting Networks and Final Draft.
Participants will meet their fellow crew members for the first time during a pre-production meeting at CarStage in Long Island City in early August. The film challenge kicks off on Thursday, August 11, when organizers will pick a genre out of a hat for each team and announce a prop that all films must incorporate. Teams will begin writing their scripts that evening and will have until Sunday, August 14, at 11:59 p.m. to submit the completed film.
“While progress has been made to combat gender imbalance in the film industry, more work must be done to achieve equity,” Medoff said. “Participants will finish the weekend not only with a highly professional short film but also with a broad network of motivated, talented women.”
WWFC will host a premiere screening of the films in late August at Village East in Manhattan. Participants will network with each other and other industry members at an afterparty.
Experienced, New York-based filmmakers in every role of production and post-production can apply to the upcoming challenge for free by visiting womensweekendfilmchallenge.com. The deadline to apply is June 27.