Founded in 1971 by the American Film Institute and the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Community Film Workshop of Chicago (CFWC) offered 16mm film training for "minorities and the disadvantaged." In the rigorous twelve-week production class, each student produced two short films. CFWC 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. Community Film Workshop established an environment where many people of color and female news cameramen, editors, producers, and technical crews on television, commercials, feature films, and independent media projects got their start.
JT’s disciplined and nurturing style anchored the core values of the organization. His legacy continues through the work of his wife and Executive Director Margaret Caples. For over 49 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 co-sponsored 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 Filmmakers Access Grant supported over 50 emerging filmmakers with equipment and post-production editing to produce longer format films.
CFWC graduates have gone on to work on films, at television stations, and in the arts in Chicago and throughout the nation. Our graduates include Katherine Nero “For the Cause”; Stephen Winter, “Shirley and Jason”; Carmen Elly Wilkerson, “The Choice”; and the late Prashant Bharagava, producer of “PATANG: The Kites.” CFWC graduate, Jacqueline Stewart, professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, has been named a host by Turner Classic Movies’ silent movie programs, making her the first African-American host in its 25-year history. CFWC graduate, Michelle Amor, sold "The Honorable" to CBS. Co-created with Ali LeRoi from "Everybody Hates Chris," "The Honorable" is produced by "Dr. Phil’s" Stage 29 Productions and CBS Television Studios.