Army Reserve Captain Rebecca Murga is the first soldier to Make the Cut

LOS ANGELES, CA, APR 17, 2015 – Chicago native and currently active U.S. Army Reserve Captain and Public Affairs Officer, Rebecca Murga has been selected from hundreds as one of ten privileged applicants to participate in the prestigious AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women for 2015. She is the first member of the military to be selected since the program's inception in 1974.

This hands-on intensive workshop is dedicated to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing. Only 6% of screen directors are women. 

Emmy-nominated writer and award-winning director Jill Soloway will serve as Artist-in-Residence for the incoming 2015 participants, along with established directors Gina Prince-Bythewood  (“Beyond the Lights”) and Daisy von Scherler Meyer ("Orange Is the New Black").

Thirteen women executives from the six major studios will also assume mentorship duties for filmmakers. These women comprise the "Executive Circle," and, according to Variety, “will offer guidance about the studio system, how projects are greenlit, and the role of the studio executive.”

“I'm thrilled beyond words to have been chosen by AFI,” Murga shared elatedly. “It’s surreal to even think of myself in the company of the current class, they are all so talented. And then when I consider famous alumni like Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, Cicely Tyson and Joanne Woodward…it’s simply incredible.”

In addition to her current military service, Murga works in Los Angeles as a writer, producer, and director of news and documentary films in both English and Spanish. Her work has been featured on major networks such as Mundo Fox, ABC, CBS, and AFN. 

Murga has served in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, and is a passionate advocate for veterans and women's issues.  She is a member of the American Legion Post 43 and the networking group Women in Film. She sits on the Advisory Board of Veterans in Film & Television, an educational organization for military veterans, which she credits for helping her career thus far.

The AFI workshop project will require Murga to write and direct a short film that will be screened at an annual showcase for agents, managers, producers, and executives at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles in May, 2016. Her film is called AMERICAN GIRL.

about THE FILM

This AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women short film completed principle photography and is now completed! Shot over a period of four days in Santa Clarita, California, over 70 crew and cast members came together to make something special. Half of the crew for former military veterans who donated their time to make this short film possible. The writer and director of the film is a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

AMERICAN GIRL is a film about a young spunky Guatemalan girl who is driven by her late father’s dream to become an American. Accompanied by a retired smuggler, the two set out on a dangerous 2,000 mile journey through Mexico to reach the American border. Together they must overcome ruthless drug smugglers, human traffickers, and the harsh desert.

But her journey doesn’t end there. The ending of the film reveals the sacrifices that immigrants make.

“The story is inspired by my father’s journey to America in his desire for a better life,” the writer and director of the film Rebecca Murga explains. “And when I learned about a young Guatemalan immigrant who joined the Marines and was then killed in Iraq before becoming a citizen, it all came rushing together. To me, the desire for freedom is the heart of the American spirit…and for many that spirit beats within them, regardless of where they are born.”

For more on the film please got to


1.    You can make a tax DEDUCTION donation directly to afi

You can donate directly to AFI / Rebecca Murga / American Girl at the link below.  AFI is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit and accepts donations for specific participants. Here is how:

The team

AFI Press

Jill Soloway to AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women: ‘Storm the Gates’ of Hollywood

VARIETY - MAY 15, 2015 - “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway delivered the keynote address to the students of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women’s 2015 Showcase Thursday night at the Directors Guild of America.

Soloway began her remarks to the filmmakers and their guests by praising the recent action taken by the ACLU in support of female directors. “Guys, it’s an amazing time for women right now!” Soloway said. “ACLU thing! Let’s sue Hollywood! Sue ‘em all! Sue those mothaf—as!”

The rest of her speech was similarly empowering and expletive-laden. She encouraged the filmmakers to embrace their gender as they go forward. “I came into most of my power as a filmmaker when I realized that all I needed to do was make a safe space for people to have feelings,” she said. “And that is feminine energy…Rub your f—ed-up-ness all over your scripts. Add some shame and some embarrassment. Rub your shame all over your script and then dare yourself to shoot it. Seriously.”

read more here

Women in combat, immigration profiled in reservist's film

MILITARY TIMES - June 1, 2015 - For Army Reserve Capt. Rebecca Murga, telling the story of women in combat ranks in significance just below the privilege of actually donning a military uniform.

Murga, a filmmaker, photographer and writer, is working on her latest short film, "American Girl," which follows a young woman's experience in becoming a soldier who eventually serves in Afghanistan.

She's one of 10 applicants participating in the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women this year, giving her the experience and skills to make the short film, which she hopes to turn into a full-length feature in 2016. She is the first service member to participate in the yearlong course, started by the American Film Institute in 1974.

Her film's basic subject matter is timely, as opportunities for women in the military are changing at an increasingly swift pace.

For example, for the first time this year, women began training at the Army's notoriously tough Ranger School, another step in the opening of ground combat occupations to female soldiers. The Marine Corps in 2014 opened up 11 military occupational specialties to female Marines.

read more here

Jill Soloway writer and director.

Jill Soloway writer and director.

INDIEWIRE - APRIL 17, 2015 - "Transparent" creator and "Afternoon Delight" writer-director Jill Soloway will deliver the keynote address at the AFI Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) Showcase on May 14. 

Soloway will serve as the Artist-in-Residence for the incoming 2015 participants alongside filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights") and TV director Daisy von Scherler Mayer ("Orange is the New Black"). 

VARIETY - OCTOBER 7, 2014 - The American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women has created an “Executive Circle,” consisting of 13 execs who will act as mentors to filmmakers there.

The Executive Circle consists of Lauren Abrahams, VP, Sony; Amanda Brown, VP, Paramount; Daria Cercek, VP, Fox; Tonia Davis, director of development, Disney; Maradith Frenkel, VP, Universal; Niija Kuykendall, VP, Warner Bros.; Annie Laks, VP, Paramount Animation; Alana Mayo, CE, Paramount; Anikah McLaren, VP, Universal; Chantal Nong, VP, Warner Bros.; Sara Scott, Director of Development, Universal; Alison Small, VP, Paramount/Paramount Insurge; and Erin Westerman, VP, Good Universe