Making a short film can be expensive, and so can entering contests and film festivals. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a real return on your investment? Some short film contests promise notoriety or the chance to meet industry professionals – but that won’t immediately help you pay your crew or your bills. The following short film contests actually award winners cash prizes. You’ve probably heard of prestigious international film festivals like Toronto and Sundance, but you might consider entering a lesser-known festival to be part of a smaller pool of entrants. Good luck with your submission!
Berlin Film Festival Audi Short Film Award
If your film is impressive enough to win the Audi Short Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival, you’ll walk away with € 20,000. Meanwhile, the Golden Bear Award for Best Short Film qualifies you to be eligible for the Academy Awards, and the Berlin Short Film Nominee wins the nomination for the European Film Awards.Cinema Nova and Melbourne International Film Festival Award for Best Fiction Short Film,
Melbourne International Film Festival
Filmmakers who compete in the short film contests at the Melbourne International Film Festival share a prize pool of $56,000. Awards include the City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film, Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film, Swinburne Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker, SAE Institute Award for Best Animation Short Film, RMIT University for Best Documentary Short Film and School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne and Melbourne International Film Festival Award for Best Experimental Short Film.
More info: http://miff.com.au/about/film-awards/2017
San Francisco International Film Festival
In April 2018, the San Francsisco International Film Festival awarded nearly $40,000 in prizes to emerging and established filmmakers. A lot of that money went to feature filmmakers, but the festival does have several $2,000 awards for short films. You can enter your short film for the Golden Gate Award (Narrative Short Film), the Golden Gate Award (Documentary Short Film), Animated Short, the New Visions Short and the Bay Area short. Additionally, you can win $1,500 for the Bay Area Short second prize, $1,500 for the Golden Gate Family Film Award and $1,000 for the Youth Works Prize.
Seattle International Film Festival
The Seattle International Film Festival offers short film contests in three different categories; filmmakers are awarded $2,500 prizes for Documentary, Live Action and Animation. These internationally juried awards are given for excellence in filmmaking, form and content.
Toronto International Film Festival
TIFF, as the Toronto International Film Festival is known, is one of the biggest and most prestigious film festivals in the world – but you’ll win a lot more than notoriety if you snag one of its short film awards. TIFF’s Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The festival’s Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film also comes with $10,000. Competition will likely be fierce, but the prize is larger than that of most festivals!
Durban International Film Festival
Taking place in Durban, South Africa, the Durban International Film Festival awards a Best Short Film prize valued at R20,000 (currently about $1,440 USD). The festival also has a Best African Short Film award, though a cash prize is not listed in the festival’s description of it. Short films are also eligible for the festival’s Wavescape Audience Choice Award
48 Film Project
If you haven’t yet completed a short film but want the motivation of a specific deadline and prize, you might enjoy entering the 48 Film Project, an online international short film competition. For this contest, you only have 48 hours to make your film. It’s open to everyone over 18 years old, from any nation in the world. If you win, your team will get a $10,000 cash prize, plus a chance to meet Hollywood agents who can kickstart your filmmaking career.
More info: https://www.48filmproject.com/brief
Finally, if you’ve already shot a short film that is a documentary, you can also look into short film contests and festivals that accept only documentary short films, such as the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam and Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. You may also look into special themed contests and festivals based on the subject matter of your film.
Have you entered any of these short film contests? Let us know in the comments!