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20 Film Festivals You Should Enter Your Short Film Into


Gaining traction in the film industry, or really any industry, is difficult when you don’t know which direction to go in, or what step to take next. If you’ve made a short film, you’ve already done most of the hard work. Next comes submitting your film to festivals in the hopes that your work is shared with the public and gains recognition or acclaim.

Here is a list of 20 film festivals, both domestic and international, that are worth submitting to in the upcoming year:

1. Sundance Film Festival

Park City, Utah

This festival is the largest independent film festival in the US, with upwards of 50,000 guests annually. Sundance offers a number of different categories, in both feature-length and short. This years entry fee for short film was $60, and though this is one of the most competitive film festivals in the world, it might be worth the money as acceptance into the festival is sure to skyrocket your work into Hollywood’s spotlight. To qualify for the Short Film competition, the work must be 50 minutes or less, including credits.


2. Cannes Film Festival

Cannes, France

The Cannes Film Festival is an incredibly well-known international event held in France every year. Their Short Film category accepts works of 15 minutes or less, with no fee upon submission. This star-studded event is no joke, so if your film isn’t in its most polished form then this might not be for you, but with no submission fee you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain from sending out your film to this prestigious festival.


3. Palm Springs International ShortFest

Palm Springs, California

This oscar-qualifying short film festival is the largest short film festival in North America. With a focus on nurturing new filmmaking talent, this festival is a must for submitting your short, especially if you are new to the game. Over 100 films have gone on to win an Academy Award since 1996, which is evidence that this festival fosters success if you are so lucky to be accepted. Your short must be no longer than 40 minutes to be considered.


4. Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival

Clermont-Ferrand, France

This festival is the largest international film festival for short films, and has been for the past 40 years. The event has two different sections, one National for French filmmakers, and an International for filmmakers from across the globe. The maximum runtime for short film submissions is 40 minutes, and there is no fee that comes along with entering your film.


5. Aspen Shortsfest

Aspen, Colorado

In it’s 26th year, this festival is an Oscar-qualifying, internationally-recognized event held annually. Your film submission can not exceed 40 minutes in length. Though there is an $80 fee upon entering your film, those accepted into the festival are provided with lodging and transportation. Plus, the winners of the festival are eligible to receive a cash prizes of up to $2,500.


6. Tribeca Film Festival

New York, New York

This film festival, started by Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff, takes place in the heart of NYC and offers a competition for both Best Narrative Short and Best Documentary Short. The submission must be 40 minutes or under to be eligible and there is a $60 fee upon entry. The festival caters to both “emerging and established voices”, making is a viable option for those newer in the industry.


7. Los Angeles Film Festival

Culver City, California

This annual festival is a part of Film Independent, and hosts over 36,000 people every year—it is also a qualifying festival in short films for the Academy Awards, making this event a great opportunity for acclaim. The “short” short films are required to be under 26 minutes and the “mid-length” short films must be between 26-45 minutes—additionally, there is a $45 submission fee.


8. Telluride Film Festival

Telluride, Colorado

Held in the beautiful Telluride, this international film festival is a bit smaller compared to those festivals mentioned so far, accepting about 24 shorts per year. The festival comes just after Cannes, taking place each year on Labor Day Weekend. Shorts should not exceed 60 minutes, which is a bit longer than most maximums, but there is a $95 submission fee.


9. Raindance

London, UK

This festival is the biggest indie film festival in the UK, held in London’s West End film district. The shorts that go on to be accepted to the festival will qualify for Oscar and BAFTA considerations. The fee for submitting shorts is £35—There is a short film maximum runtime of 45 minutes in the following categories: “Narrative Short”, “Documentary Short”, and “Animation Short”.


10. Berlin Film Festival

Berlin, Germany

Otherwise known as “Berlinale”, this German festival is considered to be the largest publicly attended film festival in the world, with over 300,000 tickets sold annually. The fee for short films is € 60. The maximum length varies from category to category: the maximum length for short films in the “Berlinale Shorts” competition is 30 minutes, for “Generation” it is 20 minutes, for the “Perspektive Deutsches Kino”, which is german films only, the max is 45 minutes.


11. Slamdance Film Festival

Park City, Utah

This festival gets thousands of submissions, but its a great option for those filmmakers who are new to the film festival scene, as they mainly focus on lower-budget films and emerging artists—of the submissions, 70 shorts are chosen. The maximum runtime for shorts is 40 minutes, with a $50 entry fee. There are four categories for shorts: “Narrative”, “Documentary”, “Animation”, and “Experimental”, so there are plenty of options to choose from.


12. American Film Festival

Wroclaw, Poland

Contrary to its title, this festival doesn’t actually take place in America, but is held annually in Poland. The festival is the only event in Central Europe to focus intently on American independent film, and the festival was created to be a viable avenue toward European distribution and co-production. There is no entry fee, so submitting your short to this festival is well worth it, as you won’t be losing any money in the process.


13. New Directors/New Films Festival

New York, New York

This NYC festival is organized by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and generally focuses on first-time filmmakers. This festival is unique because the shorts only accept submission by artists who are 30 years old or younger at the time of the end of production. The standard runtime for shorts in “Fiction”, “Documentary”, “Animation”, and “Experimental” is 54 minutes, with a submission fee of just $5.


14. Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto, Canada

This Canada-based festival hosts over 480,000 people annually, making it one of the most widely attended festival in the world. In terms of reputation, it is a notably prestigious event, with many celebrities and stars coming from across the globe to be a part of the festival. TIME magazine even dubbed the festival as “the most influential film festival, period.” The maximum length of international shorts can not exceed 49 minutes, and there is a $5 CAD fee upon submission.


15. Venice Film Festival

Venice, Italy

This festival is the oldest film festival in the world, having originated in 1932, and is a part of the “Venice Biennale” which is an arts organization that puts on a number of exhibitions in film, architecture, contemporary dance, and theatre. There is a 60 Euro fee for shorts, as well as a 40 minute maximum runtime for the submission. In its 74th year, this festival has consistently been named one of the most reputable film events in history.


16. Austin Film Festival

Austin, Texas

This 8 day festival focuses on the writer’s contribution to film making, and its original name was the “Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference”. With the name change, this festival now caters to all filmmakers and contributes to Austin’s rich art community by creating year-round recognition that highlights the value of storytelling in film.  There is a submission fee of $60 and a 40 minute cap on film runtime in the short categories of “Narrative”, “Documentary” and “Animation”.


17. SXSW Film Festival

Austin, Texas

Another Austin based festival, the SXSW is a 9 day event that strives to feature a diverse set of film selections by directors who are new to Hollywood. There is a $55 submission fee for short films, with options to submit to “Narrative Short”, “Documentary Short”, and “Animated Short”. The short must be under 40 minutes, and SXSW does not accept rough cuts, meaning your film must be completely polished by the time of submission.


18. Encounters International Short Film Festival

Bristol, England

This 6 day festival caters specifically to short films, and strive to “discover, support and develop new talent in filmmaking.” The international festival as been labelled an official gateway to the world’s most well-known awards including the BAFTAs, European Film Awards and is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards. Shorts can not exceed 30 minutes in runtime, and there is a $25 submission fee upon entering the festival.


19. BFI London Film Festival

London, England

The British Film Institute London Film Festival, which takes place in the UK annually, screens over 300 films, shorts, and documentaries from over 60 countries across the globe. The maximum runtime for shorts can not go beyond 60 minutes, which is quite generous for a short, and there is no submission fee, which makes this festival a great option for a longer work without the risk of losing money in the process of submitting.


20. Edinburgh International Film Festival

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh International, in it’s 71st active year, is the world’s oldest continually running film festival, having initially started in 1947 and running strongly since then. There is a submission fee of $30, and the shorts should not exceed 30 minutes in overall runtime. The festival features fictional, experimental, animated, and documentarian works, giving it a wide range of possible submissions categories.


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How To Capture Starbursts


Photo by Steve Berardi
Photo by Steve Berardi
A starburst is when a light source (such as the sun) appears as a burst in an image, like in the photo above. Notice how there are a bunch of sharp light rays coming from the sun.

Starbursts are a nice dramatic effect you can add to your backlit photos. They’re also a nice way to add leading lines to your image, to help direct the viewer’s attention. For example, in the image above I purposely captured the starburst in the center of the frame to help direct the viewer’s eye outwards equally in all directions.

So how do you capture these wonderful things? Well, luckily it’s pretty easy:

1. Use a very small aperture (f/16 or smaller)

As you use a smaller aperture, the starburst will have more defined and stronger lines. So, at f/4 the sun will just look like a big blob of light, but at f/16 or f/22, you’ll see the strong light rays like in the photo above (it was shot at f/22).

Remember that smaller aperture = higher f-number

Also, the more blades your lens has, the more lines you’ll see in your starburst. Don’t get too caught up on this though, I’m sure every lens you already own has enough blades for the starburst to look good.

2. Position your camera so the sun is partially blocked by something

When positioning your camera to capture starbursts, it’s very important to be careful. You don’t want your camera to look directly into the sun—that could damage your eyes and/or camera. Instead, start with your camera in a position where an object is completely blocking the sun (such as a tree branch). Then, very slowly move your camera until the sun just barely peeks through the edge of the tree branch or rock or whatever else you’re photographing.

Experiment a little with different positions, because the starburst effect will get stronger as more of the sun is revealed, but remember to be careful! You don’t want to go too far and have the sun completely exposed. You need to keep your eyes (and camera) safe!

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steveb2About the Author: Steve Berardi is a nature photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.

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How To Get Sh*t Done


Have you ever felt like you’re insanely busy but not actually accomplishing anything? Like you’re frantically doing stuff but never getting stuff done? Being creative, no matter what the discipline or genre means making things, it means creating, and to do that – whether it’s one photograph or a significant body of work, never mind all the things we need to do to run our businesses and live our lives, we’ve got to get shit done. Let’s talk about it.

If you’d rather watch this on YouTube, it’s Episode 74 of Vision Is Better. More of an audio person? You can download or listen to the Mp3 file here:

Click here to download the Mp3 Audio File of this VIB Episode.

In the last post I discussed the danger of burning out and my final observation was that it’s entirely possible to burn out while getting nothing done at, while being busy but not productive. The more I thought about that more true it seems. In fact the more it seems like that’s the fastest way to burn out. And I talked about the power of saying no, and of triage thinking, and I think those things are not only the secret to not burning out, they’re one of the secrets of productivity.

Getting shit done – being productive, not busy – is a big subject. And if you’re going to get shit done you need to get off the YouTube shows and FB and the blogs, so I’m limiting this to my top 5 ideas for being more productive.

Number One
Know what you want. If you’re going to “get shit done” you need to know what shit needs doing. I keep an Evernote file with priorities for the year – the big picture stuff. The stuff you really need to do – the big bodies of work, the projects, the deep work. By the way I get this idea of Deep Work from Cal Newport’s book of the same name – Deep Work. Highly Recommended. Take some time and ask yourself what you want to do in the next year or two. The big stuff. The stuff you want to be known for. The stuff you want to look back on one day and be proud you accomplished. Once you’ve done that, start planning.

Number Two
I told you I keep an Evernote file with priorities for the year but I generally plan the big stuff 2 years out. Why? You’ve got to put the big rocks in first. Have you heard that illustration before? If you’ve got a jar and you need to fill it with both tiny pebbles and big rocks, and you start by putting in the pebbles first, you won’t have enough room to get all the big rocks in. if you put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles fit into the remaining space. It’s about priorities and being willing to put big stuff onto the calendar first, and letting the small stuff fill in the gaps, knowing it can’t work the other way around. Big rocks first. And in order to do that you have to know what those big rocks are for you.  What are the most significant things you need to do this year? How much time will they take? Put them on the calendar now. If I’m doing a big project in December 2018 I put it on the calendar and work backwards. If I want it done by December, and I need a month to do the project then I need to put a month of project time aside in November. Put a big red line through it. And if I need a month of planning time before that, I cross out October too. Big rocks go in first. Always.

Number Three
Get rid of some of the smaller rocks. I know I can’t fit everything in so I do what I can to minimize the small rocks I need to get into the jar. This is what I was talking about in the last episode. Saying no. If it doesn’t serve my bigger vision, put food on the table, or in some way make my life (and the lives of those closest to me) better, then I do what I can to exclude it from my life. Just say no. And if it’s small stuff and you can’t exclude it then BATCH IT. Stop checking Facebook once every ten minutes, instead check it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Same with email. You’re clearing chunks of time so you can put larger rocks in. This concept is so important to me. I can’t write anything in 10 minute chunks. But put a few of those together, taking out all the little distractions, and give me 1 to 3 hours and I can get some serious work done. Clear out the little rocks by batching them together. Jealously protect your large blocks of time.

Number Four
Stop multitasking. Don’t do it. We all think we can do it, but study after study shows we can’t. We’re terrible at it. If you want to not only get shit done but you want to do it well, you’ve got to focus. I don’t think I need to even explain this. You’ve just got to focus. This goes hand in hand with number three because you need blocks of time to really focus but you’ve got to be single-minded about stuff.

Number Five
On a smaller scale my productivity has gone way up as I’ve transitioned from keeping a TO DO list to just putting stuff – even the smaller tasks – straight on the calendar. Putting it on a list says “do this at some point” putting it on my calendar says “do it now.” I still keep the list because that’s where things go before I put them on the calendar. But if I sit down on Sunday and think about what I need to do in the coming week, the stuff comes off the list and goes onto the calendar. I schedule it. And if it’s too big or too vague to schedule – like “write the next book” would be too big – then I break it down into things I can schedule. if it can’t be scheduled then it’s too big, it’s not actionable, and I break into smaller pieces. So if “write the next book” is too big, then “outline the next book” goes in on Monday, and smaller steps follow. Next week it might be “Write Chapter One.”

Lastly, here’s a bonus: don’t wait until you want to do it. Don’t wait until it seems like fun or you’re in the mood. I get shit done because my rational brain puts actionable bite-size tasks on the calendar in service of getting the big rocks done. If I didn’t do this I’d be constantly looking at a To-Do list thinking, which of these overwhelming tasks do I want to do today? And the answer, as it always is, would be, none of the above!

We all work differently so none of these might apply to you. In that case figure out what does work for you, but this is the best framework I’ve found for myself and it’s worked well over the past 10 years. I’ve written 9 significant books, 20 ebooks, and a handful of other resources while running a business, traveling the world, and leading workshops. I’ve learned to make the most of my time, to do work on planes when I know I’ve got 4 relatively uninterrupted hours or on layovers when I can either groan about being bored for 8 hours or I can get 2 chapters of a book written. I’m not saying it to brag, in fact there are a lot of things I’ve left undone. But if you want to get shit done, however you do it, you’re going to have to make it happen, and that means knowing what you want, getting the big rocks onto the calendar first, getting rid of as many of the smaller rocks as you can, and bringing greater focus and actionability to your creative life.

Got questions, thoughts, or ideas, about this? Leave them in the comments. I’m in Lesotho right now, but I’ll reply the moment I’m back. Now get out of here and go get shit done.


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