Women in Film & Video DCHistory

In 1979, Ginny Durrin sent a letter to a dozen women she knew working in media inviting them to a meeting at her house.  They were encouraged to invite others.  They agreed it would be great to keep meeting.  Very quickly a mailing list was developed, regular meetings were planned, and they started to form an organization.  Soon there were too many women attending to hold meetings in their homes and they moved to larger venues.  Among the women involved in the first year were: Ginny Durrin, Judy Herbert, Sharon Ferguson, Christine Brim, Jan Hatcher, Norma Davidoff, Pat McMurray, Catherine Anderson, Lauren Versel, Michal Carr, Elise Reeder, and Polly Krieger.

Since then, the organization has become a formidable force, helping all genders break ground in the media industry within the Washington, DC area. The organization has grown to more than 900 members.

From meetings and newsletters to salons and online listservs, WIFV continues to facilitate a constant exchange of information and networking opportunities for its members, who strive to help one another on their road to success.

Each year, dedicated teams of volunteers embark upon projects and take WIFV to new levels. Whether starting the day off with an Executive Coffee or ending it with a professional development seminar or networking happy hour, WIFV members constantly show their dedication to this organization and their careers.

The following timeline illustrates how WIFV has grown through the years:

WIFV Newsletter (1979-present)

WIFV has always provided a member newsletter to keep its members on top of what is going on in the industry and the organization. This tool also highlights the successes of WIFV and its members.  In 2006, the newsletter became an e-newsletter and recent issues are archived on this site.

Wednesday One Monthly Membership Meetings (1979-present)

Education has always been a key part of WIFV. Monthly panel discussions provide an opportunity for members to learn more about specific aspects of the media industry.

Women Make Movies Festival (1980-1994)

This festival was an annual international event spanning several days and including screenings, panel discussions, and parties.

WIFV Open House (1980s-present)

This is the annual kickoff to the new WIFV program year and a great opportunity to meet new members and reconnect with old friends. The Open House includes the annual membership meeting where members can find out the “State of WIFV”.

WIFV Holiday Party (1980s-present)

The holiday party is a multifaceted event that combines a holiday celebration, philanthropy, networking, and an opportunity to revel in the successes of the past year.

Film Premieres (1980s-present)

The opportunity to see blockbuster and independent films before they are released to the public is a part of WIFV’s charm. Members are frequently given the opportunity to attend premiers and special screenings.

Professional Development Seminars (1983-present)

This is an in-depth weekend or multi-date experience that allows members to take a look at specific industry topics with experts in the field.

WIFV Membership Directory (1987-present)

This compact resource of members, their careers, their companies, and their contact information is an invaluable tool for the WIFV community.  In 2006, this resource went online.  The directory provides the members and the public with an up-to-date resource when looking for the perfect colleague for collaboration.

WIFV Office (1988-present)

WIFV hired its first full-time staff in 1988 and opened its first office the same year. The location may have changed through the years, but the office remains the hub from which all events and volunteers are coordinated.

Executive Member Events (1993-present)

Events aimed to support the careers of established mediamakers include coffees, meetings with high-level professionals, and dinners.

Women of Vision Awards (1994-present)

This celebration recognizes women who have excelled in their field and served their communities.  A list of past honorees is available on this website.

Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI) (1996-present)

WIFV participates in a global network of 12,000 members through the nearly 40 Women in Film & Television International locations. We are active members who enjoy the international connection to our sisters in filmmaking around the world.

WIFV.ORG Website (1997-present)

WIFV launched its website to enhance its presence in the Mid-Atlantic region. The website is the best conduit of information and opportunities for WIFV members and the community at large.

WIFV Listserv (1997-present)

This is an online discussion group for WIFV Members that allows for an educational exchange of information, specific job opportunities, recommendations and advice.  It may be low tech, but the info is astounding!

WIFV Media Job Fair (1998-present)

The Job Fair is an annual opportunity for to meet employers and discuss job possibilities. Slight hiatus for pandemic 🙁

Resume Swap (1998-present)

The Resume Swap was created in conjunction with the Media Job Fair to provide professionals and students an opportunity to gain feedback on their resumes from professionals in the field.

Image Makers (1998-2017)

WIFV launched this program in 1998 to foster the next generation of filmmakers. WIFV teams industry professionals with high school students and, through hands-on experience, the students are taught how to produce media by working on public service announcements for local charitable groups.  You can see some of their work here!

WIFV Past Presidents Scholarship for Mid-Career Mediamakers (1999-present)

The WIFV Past Presidents Scholarship for Mid-Career Mediamakers was created by WIFV Past Presidents, in memory of WIFV President Randy Goldman. The scholarship is funded completely by WIFV Past Presidents and we are grateful for their support.  WIFV Members with at least 10 years media experience who demonstrates her commitment to continue to grow professionally are eligible to apply. WIFV partners with The Workshops in Rockport, Maine, to provide this educational opportunity.

Kids World Film Festival (2002-present)

This film festival shares the joy of international film with local middle school children. The program is accompanied by in-school media literacy training prior to the festival to teach critical viewing skills and an appreciation of the wide range of media available today.

Happy Hours (2002-present)

This is an opportunity to mingle with professionals from various industries with a little fun.

Brown Bag Lunches (2002-present)

WIFV hosts lunches for member companies and their employees to share what WIFV has to offer and increase our presence in the DC Metro area.

Creative Citizens Forum (2003-2004)

This program offered an opportunity for filmmakers to meet with our nation’s lawmakers and engage in constructive discussions about the state of the industry and its future in our country.

Roundtable Groups (2005 to present)

Join a special interest group to connect with WIFV members on a smaller scale. These Roundtable Groups are open to all members and the general public.  Roundtable groups change over time and are directed by WIFV Members.  Each has its own listerv to exchange topic-specific information and connections.

Executive Listserv (2005 to present)

WIFV provides a discussion list specifically for our executive members with ten or more years media production experience.

ScriptDC (2006 to present)

This writers/producers weekend was developed in direct response to our member requests to study with some of the nation’s most-respected screenwriters, directors and producers.  It is held annually in the Fall.  Since 2020 we have provided online workshops over several months each year to keep the skill-building and networking going.

Fiscal Sponsorship (2010 to present)

WIFV serves as a fiscal sponsor for independent filmmakers to provide mentorship and allow them to access funding from foundations and other donors.  Applications are accepted from WIFV Members only in the Spring and Fall.  More info here.

Carolyn’s First Decade Fund (2012 to 2022)

Carolyn’s First Decade Fund is a professional development grant designed to help advance the careers of individuals in their first decade of working as media professionals and provide them with access to continuing skills development and to the larger film community.

Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers (2015 to present)

As part of our 35th Anniversary Celebration WIFV raised funds to establish a Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers.  The grants are available to WIFV Members only.  Contact director@wifv.org for more information.  You can make a donation here. Applications for this fund are accepted in the Spring.

Mayor’s Arts Award (2015)

WIFV was recognized for Excellence in Service to the Arts by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser at the Mayor’s Arts Awards at the Lincoln Theatre.  Award was accepted by then WIFV President Rebecca Bustamante.

Jane Cusumano/WIFV Short Narrative Film Finishing Fund  (2018 to present)

This program supports artists with the completion/post-production of a short film (no longer than 15 minutes including credits). This grant program is made possible with proceeds from the 2001 DC screening of WHAT MATTERS MOST, written and directed by Jane Cusumano and limited in-kind services from Henninger Media ServicesInterface Media GroupOtt House Audio, and ReelPlan. The program is administered by Women in Film & Video and only available to WIFV Members.  More information on this program for WIFV Members and application info is available here.

WIFV Narrative Script Development Fellowship (2022 to present)

Through the 9-month WIFV Narrative Script Development Fellowship, open only to WIFV members, accomplished film professionals will work with 4-6 Fellows to take scripts from page to production.  The scripts become the basis of collaboration between the mentors and Fellows.  The 2022 WIFV Narrative Script Development Fellowship was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, www.arts.gov.  Additional support was received from OCTFME/202 Creates and the Gem Star Foundation and they continue as funders.

WIFV is constantly working on ways to enhance our benefits and educational programs. We look forward to adding to this list in the coming years.

2019-20 programming included many programs related to the WIFV 40th Anniversary!  We were honored to continue to provide relevant programming, networking, and a supportive community for independent mediamakers.  A signature program was a Disrupters Lecture Series featuring Emily Best, Founder of Seed & Spark and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday.  We also asked WIFV members to nominate Filmmakers They Admire and we got a great response.  Love this community!

WIFV celebrated its 35th Anniversary in 2014!  We launched new programs to support our members and their creative endeavors including development and fundraising for a Seed Fund for Documentary Filmmakers.  The celebrations culminated at a 1970’s themed Dance Party on March 12, 2015 at Policy.  Sponsors of the Dance Party included Interface Media Group, Media Central, Office of Motion Picture & Television Department, Carlyn Davis Casting, Erin Essenmacher, Monica Lee Bellais, S and S Productions, and Patrick TelePictures, Inc.  

WIFV DC celebrated its 30th Anniversary on September 10, 2009. This video was produced entirely by WIFV volunteers to commemorate the occasion. A special thanks to the WIFV Past Presidents, Sandy Cannon-Brown and Video Takes LLC for producing the video, Henninger Video for the editing, Susan England and Bethany Powell for the graphics and Human Factor, LLC for providing the music.