To Win An Oscar, Enter These Festivals

The Academy unveiled a new logo this year, designed by 180LA

Unveiled in 2013, the Academy’ new logo was designed by 180LA

I was recently asked, “which film festivals should we submit our film?”

Picking where to send your film is hard when you consider scheduling for the coming year and vetting individual festivals. These are two of the shortcoming of Withoutabox, the popular pick for consolidating paperwork and knowing deadlines, which I’ve written about in the past. You also may want to be mindful of the overall budget, seeing as how most festivals require fees upward of $50 apiece.

Here’s where word-of-mouth tips can help steer you in the right direction.

I would first look at which ones you submitted to already, whether or not you’ve gotten in for consideration. Were they based on calculated research, like they seem to like esoteric parodies year after year? Or were they based on pure reputation, like Sundance and Cannes? If all of the submission rules were followed correctly, perhaps there’s insight to figure out why the film was or wasn’t selected towards where next to send the film.

Then I would write up a larger list. I don’t use Withoutabox, so I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one who would be tempted to just “wing it” and Google some names or throw out only big name festivals. However you want to compile information, once I have a list of 10 to 20, you could chart out a budget: submit to one or two every month for the next year after your film is complete.

Finally, if it’s a short, through talking this over with one director who just finished his animated short film, I’ve learned that the Academy publishes a list every year of film festivals. If you win any one of these 77 festivals, you’re apparently considered for an Oscar. (The fine print reads that they may change any of these festivals or awards without notice.)

(Looking for feature film consideration? That’s different, because you need votes from fellow Academy members. Check out TheWrap which looks at those numbers, which vary depending on your branch.)

Below is a copy of the Academy’s 77 preferred festivals for short films. You can also see their formal PDF version. (If you’re viewing this article after our February 2014 publication date, see their Rules page for changes in forthcoming years.)

Of course this isn’t the only way to apply to film festivals and vie for winning big. But it’s certainly better than starting from scratch if you’re new to the game. Do you have any tips? Add a comment below to add your two cents.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site


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