Submit Your Short Film
DC Shorts turns the spotlight on truly independent short films created around the globe. In 2019, we received over 1,300+ submissions from 100 countries, and screened 156 films from 36 countries in 30 unique showcases over 10 days to audiences of more than 9,000 people.
- Our main judging criteria is STORY. Do you have an interesting, original story about developed, well-written characters? If so, then you are a good fit for us.
- We screen all genres and styles of films.
- We screen films from :30 seconds to 40 minutes. Longer films may be considered, but are generally difficult to program. We will not consider any film over 40 minutes.
- Films that screened at past DC Shorts Film Festivals have gone on win countless other competitions, including the Academy Awards.
- Washington, DC has some of the most sophisticated audiences in the world. In a city with over 70 film festivals a year, DC Shorts continues to be a dominant force for film distribution in the region.
- The DC Shorts Film Festival is the largest short film event on the east coast of the United States.
- DC Shorts again in 2019 topped the list as Moviemaker Magazine’s Coolest Short Film Festival – an honor we are thrilled about, and has been listed as a “Festival Worth the Submission Fee” — again.
- Outstanding US Narrative Short
- Outstanding International Narrative Short
- Outstanding Animated Short
- Outstanding Documentary Short
- Outstanding First-Time Director
- Outstanding Local Film
- Audience Favorite Awards
(as of December 1, 2019)
DEADLINES AND ENTRY FEES
Earlybird Deadline – December 31, 2019 $45
Regular Deadline – February 28 , 2020 $60
Late Deadline – March 31, 2020 $70
Extended Deadline – April 30, 2020 $85
OUR FEE WAIVER POLICY:
We do not grant waivers.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR FILM
- Read about the review process and look through the rules below PLEASE! There are good reasons for the rules, and a lot of time and care has gone into writing them — the rules are a detailed description of what happens to your film when received by our office, as well as how our review and selection process works
- Select an entry form. DC Shorts utilizes submission platforms FilmFreeway.com.
- Complete your entry and upload your film by the Extended Deadline, April 30, 2020. Materials received after this date will be discarded without notice or refund of entry fee. Each submission requires a separate entry form and fee. Incomplete applications, failure to include payment, or submitting materials we are unable to preview will disqualify your entry without refund.
July 8, 2020
All filmmakers will receive notice of acceptance or rejection via email not later than July 8, 2020. If you do not receive this email by the notification date, please contact the office.
THE REVIEW PROCESS
For the 2020 Festival, we expect to review more than 1,300 short films and 200 screenplays. We hope to include 120 films in the final showcases; in 2019 we included 156 films.
All applications are referred to by an assigned identification code. From this point on, films are only referred to by this code number.
Our reviewers are local filmmakers, industry professionals, film enthusiasts, and trained members of our audience. All reviewers are interviewed before they are trained – and all have attended previous versions of DC Shorts as paying audience members or presenting filmmakers.
Films are watched in their entirety (rare among film festivals) and evaluated on aspects such as strength of plot, originality, technical proficiency, acting, editing, and sound design. Reviewers are also asked to leave a personal comment as to how they believe the film will play to our audience.
Screeners viewed online are subject to the computer hardware and speaker setup of the individual screener. Some have high-end speaker systems and large screens, while others still use older PC laptops and built-in speakers.
At the end of the first round, a list of the top 300+ films is generated by analyzing raw scores, rankings, trends and comments. These films are then sent to a second team of screeners consisting of former screeners, DC Shorts Board Members, local business people and sponsors. They watch each film and make programming notes, but do not add to the previous scores.
At the end of the second round, select screeners and the festival director choose a final lineup based on scores, the time constraints of showcases (each showcase runs for approximately 90 minutes, with an average of 6-9 short films featured in each showcase), and how films will play in a show with each other. We also try to include 10% of our films from filmmakers creating content around the greater Washington, DC region.
DC Shorts – and every major film festival – program the best films available that offer a fresh viewpoint or a unique story or character, meet programming time constraints, interest our audience, play well with the other films programmed, and are created by filmmakers we believe in.
WANT MORE INSIGHT INTO THE PROCESS?
- Watch over 300 films from past DC Shorts events to see the types of films we have programmed.
- Explore the websites from past DC Shorts Film Festivals to read old catalogs, scan the films, and check out the many events.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
MY FILM IS OVER 40 MINUTES. IS THAT OK?
The time limit of :40m is our exact cut-off point. The way we program — showing as many different types of film in 90-minute blocks — makes it difficult to show many longer films. In addition, when we receive multiple films of the same theme/subject matter, we often tend to program those with stronger storytelling, which are often the shorter versions. That said, we have screened exceptional films up to :30m in the past. In our experience, most 20-minute films could be re-edited to a much stronger 12-minute piece. One piece of advice we learned in film school was, “That’s a nice 13-minute movie. But it is a fabulous 9-minute film.” Ask yourself the same thing and really think about it.
DO YOU ACCEPT MUSIC VIDEOS?
In the past, we have screened music videos that are heavily story-driven. No plot, no play.
WHAT ABOUT WORKS IN PROGRESS?
DC Shorts does not accept works in progress. Only submit and send your online screener when your film is complete. We are unable to update your application with a new URL after the film has been submitted.
ARE THERE TYPES OF FILMS YOU DO NOT PROGRAM?
DC Shorts has shown films in every genre and style. The best way to see what types of films we are likely to program is to visit dcshorts.com/archive. Here, over 350 films are available for free. That said, our audiences are not fond of torture or violent horror, sophomoric humor, and violence against women or animals.
THE RULES AND SCREENING LICENSE AGREEMENT
DC SHORTS GENERAL FILM COMPETITION
Please read this agreement carefully before you submit your film. By submitting your film, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of this agreement.
GUIDELINES FOR ALL FILMS:
– Films must have been completed on or after January 1, 2019.
– Films must NOT be a previously submitted film.
– Films must NOT exceed 40 minutes in length, including credits.
– All non-English language films must have English subtitles.
– A separate entry form and additional entry fee must be submitted for each film.
ENTRY FORM AND PREVIEW MATERIALS FOR ALL FILMS: All films must be submitted and paid for through filmfreeway.com. Illegible or incomplete entry forms will not be accepted. Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees or working online screener URL at the time of submission will not be accepted.
– All films must be submitted using the FilmFreeway Secure Online Screener System, via a Vimeo.com link entered directly on the submission application.
– We do NOT accept links via e-mail or streaming links other than Vimeo (i.e. YouTube)
– If you choose to provide a Vimeo link on your submission application, please ensure that you select “Anywhere” under the “Where can this video be embedded” section of your video’s privacy settings.
– Due to the volume of submissions we receive we are unable to contact each applicant individually if we are unable to access your film due to privacy settings or broken link.
– It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your online screener is working before the selected deadline.
– Submissions may NOT be withdrawn from the Festival once they have been entered, except at the sole discretion of the Festival directors.
REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS: All entries are automatically included in the general DC Shorts International Film Competition. DC Shorts will review films in their entirety. Films will be watched and reviewed by members of the Screening Committee. After the final submission deadline, the Selection Committee will review the total scores of all the films in competition and select final films from a group of the top scorers. In addition to the top scoring films, final screening decisions will be influenced by the time constraints of showcases (each showcase runs for approximately 90-minutes, with an average of eight short films featured in each showcase).
AWARD INFORMATION: Jury Awards will be presented in the following categories selected by a panel jury: Outstanding First-Time Director; Outstanding US Narrative Short; Outstanding International Narrative Short; Outstanding Animated Short; Outstanding Documentary Short; and Outstanding Local Film. All awards will be announced at the final Filmmaker Brunch. In addition, audience members in each screening will vote on Audience Favorites, and announced on Tuesday of Festival week. Awards are subject to change before the event, with an updated list to be posted at festival.dcshorts.com.
NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE. Letters of inclusion or non-inclusion will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than July 8, 2020. DC Shorts does not send physical mail — please ensure that your email address is accurate on your application. DC Shorts is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, or outdated email addresses.
– Films, acceptance contracts and other materials mentioned in the Letter of Acceptance MUST ARRIVE at the Festival office NO LATER THAN 11:59pm, July 15, 2020.
– DC Shorts REQUIRE TWO FILES FOR PROJECTION: a professionally converted DCP (24fps only) and an AppleTV formatted .mp4 file.
– Films with incomplete materials by the deadline will forfeit their ability to screen in the festival. DC Shorts, its members, directors, employees, and volunteers are not responsible for lost, misplaced, and undelivered film and media.
FILMMAKER AND WRITER ATTENDANCE: DC Shorts encourages filmmakers to attend the festival. To this end, we will assist every filmmaker (and one guest) who wishes to attend by helping to secure complimentary housing in a volunteer’s private home as available, discounted hotel rooms, passes for public transportation where available, invitations to all parties, tours and events, and passes for all film screenings. DC Shorts is unable to provide financial compensation for travel expenses or additional expenses incurred during the Festival week.
COMMUNICATIONS: DC Shorts does not send physical mail — please make sure the email address in your entry form is accurate. Changes of email address can be sent to email@example.com. DC Shorts is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, outdated email addresses or any other technical or human error. DC Shorts staff can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mailing DC Shorts, 1317 F Street, NW, Suite 920, Washington, DC 20004 USA.
PUBLICITY AND MARKETING: All selected films and scripts may be excerpted for publicity purposes. DC Shorts reserves the right to promote any film or script to print, broadcast or internet media as required to market the Festival or our parent organization.
THEATRICAL AND EVENT SCREENINGS. By accepting inclusion in DC Shorts, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to showcase their film during the festival week (September 10-19, 2020) in as many screenings as required. This includes the competition screenings and the “Best Of” showcase which will play after competition ends. In addition, DC Shorts has non-exclusive rights to repeat the showcases through December 31, 2021 for fundraising or community outreach purposes. All ticket sales are property of DC Shorts.
CONTROLLING LAW, VENUE AND SEVERABILITY. This License shall be governed by the laws of the United States and the District of Columbia without consideration of conflicts of laws provisions and principles. All claims between the parties, regardless of legal theory and whenever brought, shall be resolved in the state or federal courts of the District of Columbia, USA, and you stipulate that you expressly submit to the personal jurisdiction of such state and federal courts, and you further agree that any judgment may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction finds any provision, or portion thereof, of this Agreement to be unenforceable, the remainder of this License shall continue in full force and effect.
COMPLETE AGREEMENT. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of films and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous understandings regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by an authorized representative of DC Shorts Film Festival. Nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver of DC Shorts’ rights under the United States of America patent and copyright laws or any other Federal or State law, nor of any of DC Shorts’ rights under the rules or laws of any country, territory, republic, and/or province. DC Shorts reserves the right to remove a film from the festival program for any reason or for no reason and shall not be liable for any refund or claims of any kind arising out of such removal.