Film Submission Guidelines
The Sonscreen Film Festival meticulously assesses each film and screenplay submission, reaching a final consensus based on a set of subjective criteria and requirements. A select group of highly qualified films are chosen to be screened at the festival as the Official Selections.
All films must be submitted in the form of a digital screener.
• Registration and film submissions are both now being processed and accepted through Eventbrite.
• The Sonscreen Festival Jury will select Official Selections and winners for this year’s festival. Note that only Official Selections will be shown at the festival
The six categories for films enterable in-competition are:
- Dramatic short
- Documentary short
- Animated film
- Art/Experimental film
- High school film
- Professional film
- Deadline to submit a film: March 22, 2023, 11:59 p.m. PST
- Deadline to enter pitch competition (& submit pitch deck): March 29, 2023, 11:59 p.m. PST
- Deadline to register for festival pass: April 13, 2023, 10 p.m. PST
Only nominees selected by the jury from Official Selection films will compete for the Sonny Awards. All Official Selections are eligible for the Audience Choice Award.
ADDITIONAL AWARDS: In addition to the Best in Category Sonny Awards, the jury will make a Jury Selection Award, and the Best in Festival Award. The Audience will select the Audience Choice Award.
A select number of not-in-competition student and professional films are featured each year for exposure and acknowledgment of their work, mentoring purposes, and professional networking opportunities.
Submitting Your Film
Provide a link to an online screener of your film, using Google Drive, Dropbox, Vimeo, YouTube, etc., in the Eventbrite registration form. All films are reviewed to determine compliance with Sonscreen requirements. If accepted, this screener will also be viewed by the judges.
NOTE: All entries must be submitted BEFORE the FINAL DEADLINE, March 22, 2023 at 11:59 pm PDT, with no exceptions. Please do not wait until the last minute.
Only one (1) draft version of a film may be accepted prior to deadline, if a final cut is not available. Note that eligibility for acceptance as an Official Selection is based on the draft version, if provided. Submitting incomplete/draft films is not recommended.
We recommend you bring a digital copy of your film with you to the festival—just in case.
FAILURE TO FOLLOW ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS OUTLINED IN THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND PROCESS MAY RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
We will implement the following health and safety requirements for your safety. (These are subject to change pending local requirements, and potential changes with the public health situation):
- Masks are strongly encouraged, but not required.
- We do absolutely require that attendees be respectful of others’ choices.
- We are NOT requiring vaccinations or testing in order to attend.
- Guests will also be asked to be mindful of their distance, sanitize hands frequently, and avoid physical contact during the event.
- Guests with symptoms will be asked to stay home.
The following requirements, in addition to the subjective judging process
(outlined below), must be met for a film to qualify as in-competition:
1. Film must have been completed after January 1, 2021.
2. Filmmaker must have clearance and permission to use all copyright protected music and any images used in the film.
3. Films must have been completed while filmmaker was a student at a recognized educational institution. No paid commercial, theatrical, or TV releases will be accepted for competition.
4. Sonscreen requires that the production role of Producer or Director be filled by a student, with at least a 70% student crew. Other creative roles may be filled at the discretion of the filmmakers. We encourage the collaboration of students and professionals to increase the educational benefits and production value of the projects. Festival director, in consultation with relevant professors, will make a decision that is the most fair to all films and filmmakers in competition.
5. Movies submitted to the Sonscreen Film Festival must uphold the values of the festival, portraying uplifting themes and refraining from displaying:
• Offensive language
• Nudity or sexually explicit scenes
6. Films must not exceed 30 minutes in length, including credits.
7. All films submitted must be in English, subtitled in English, or dubbed in English.
8. If submitting multiple films for competition, a separate entry form and additional entry fee must be submitted for each film.
The Official Sonscreen Jury evaluates film entries based on several subjective criteria: originality, creativity, plot, pacing, structure, characters, dialogue, theme, cinematography, direction, writing, entertainment value, and overall quality of production.
Film critique is not an exact science. Powerful new ideas, expressions, and methods of communicating and effectively telling a story arise constantly, reshaping old ideas or paving over them completely. Not every award winner or nominee scores “10s” across the judging table. The weight of each category varies with the nature of each entry.
• Originality — The uniqueness and originality of the premise or story.
• Creativity — The effective use of imagination as evidenced in the entry.
• Plot — The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points that propel the story forward; how the story unfolds.
• Pacing — The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements, and character development.
• Structure — The framework of the film or script. Effective use of three-act, odyssey, linear, or non-linear story progression.
• Characters — Personalities that are distinctive, compelling, multi-layered, and unpredictable. A protagonist and antagonist with clear and active goals.
• Cinematography — The quality of cinematography or videography demonstrated in the work. Is the camera steady and are the shots framed and focused? Are close-ups and camera angles used to add meaning to the story? Is the lighting and camera positioning visually effective?
• Editing — Does the editing help to clarify the story and enhance the pacing and flow of the story? Are transitions smooth and well-paced, or distracting? Are the opening titles and closing credits appealing and easy to read?
• Audio, Music, and Sound Effects — Does the audio and soundtrack complement the story? Are audio levels consistent? Is the dialogue and/or narration clear and easy to understand? If there are sound effects, are they appropriate to the story, or do they detract from it?
• Direction — The quality of direction exhibited in the work.
• Entertainment Value — Does the story keep the viewer’s or reader’s attention? It is fun, engaging, or thought-provoking?
• Dialogue — Voices that are natural, succinct, and unique to each character. Use of language that effectively reveals character and moves the story forward.
• Overall Quality of Production or Script — Is the entry well-constructed and well-executed as a whole?
Recognizing that it is financially challenging for students to travel, Sonscreen encourages filmmakers to attend the festival. To this end, we will provide financial assistance to educational institutions, by request, so filmmakers may attend. Sonscreen Film Festival is unable to provide direct financial compensation to attendees for travel expenses or additional expenses incurred during the festival.
Publicity and Marketing
Films submitted may be excerpted for publicity purposes with explicit permission from the submitter. Sonscreen Film Festival reserves the right to market the festival or parent organization in print, broadcast, or internet media using submitted films with permission.
Theatrical and Event Screenings
By submitting your project to Sonscreen Film Festival, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to showcase their film during the festival in as many screenings as required. In addition, Sonscreen retains non-exclusive rights to repeat films for the purpose of marketing and promotion after the end of the festival.
Sonscreen may make films screened at the Sonscreen Film Festival available for non-commercial Internet broadcast on the Sonscreen Film Festival website. Filmmakers have the ability to opt out of this program upon acceptance into the festival. This is an optional program in which the filmmaker has the ability to opt-out by contacting the film festival director.
THE SONSCREEN FILM FESTIVAL 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.