Founded in 1971 by the American Film Institute and the Office of Economic Opportunity the Community Film Workshop of Chicago offered 16 mm film training for "minorities and the disadvantaged." In the rigorus twelve week production class each student produced two short films. Graduates were placed on internships and jobs in the industry and on community based film and video productions. The Community Film Workshop is also proud of its graduates continuing the tradition of independent filmmaking and community involvement.
The Community Film Workshop of Chicago was headed by the late Jim Taylor ( JT ) who embraced the entire media community. He was a mentor to three generations of film, video, and photographic artists in Chicago and nationally. JT’s disciplined and nurturing style anchored the core values of the organization. His legacy continues through the work of his wife and CFWC’s Executive Director, Margaret Caples.
For over 44 years Community Film Workshop of Chicago has successfully implemented neighborhood film festivals, summer youth programs, citywide career days, visiting artist programs, equipment/facility access grants, and co-sponsored a national media arts conference. Core to Community Film Workshop's programming has been its intensive hands-on training program. CFWC cosponsored a series of neighbor film festivals, “Self Portraits: Minorities in Film." These festivals were the forerunner of many of the existing ethnic specific, film festivals. The “Build Illinois Filmakers Access Grant “ supported over fifty emerging filmmakers with equipment and post-production facilities to produce longer format films. CFWC also implemented a successful school-to-college program for high school juniors and seniors. Ninety percent of these high school students attended college.
CFWC’s programs include youth media, film aesthetic series, and professional development classes and seminars. CFWC serves as a mentor by providing internships, technical assistance and consultation. In addition, CFWC also provides fiscal agency and co-sponsorship of events to assist artists in sharing their skills and knowledge in their communities.