Home FilmBloggery In The Running Part 2 – Short Films, Film Festivals, And The Oscars

In The Running Part 2 – Short Films, Film Festivals, And The Oscars

In The Running Part 2 – Short Films, Film Festivals, And The Oscars

In our previous article we covered the various requirements the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has in order for a feature film to be eligible for an Oscar run. We also delved a little into what it takes for movie theaters to qualify themselves for Academy accreditation. In this article we’re going to talk about short film and film festival accreditation. Unlike feature films, the only way your short film can be eligible for an Oscar run is if it plays in one of these qualified festivals.

The rules for film festival accreditation are far more stringent than those for feature films. Below are the absolute minimum requirements that you must meet currently in place. If you apply without having at least these minimums met, you will not be able to apply again for another five years:

  1. Only festivals that have held at least 5 festival editions prior to December 31, 2012 are eligible to apply this year.
  2. Festivals that exclusively screen student films are not eligible to apply. Awards that are primarily granted to student films will not be accepted.
  3. Festivals that do not screen films in a theatrical setting are not eligible to apply.

A qualifying festival will normally

  • present, support and promote short film screenings and other events involving short films.
  • have more than three juried short film programs.
  • include a minimum of 30 films in live action and/or animation categories.
  • require that at least 50 percent of the competing films are no more than a year old at the time of the festival.

If a Grand Prize for short films is awarded, that will be the only award accepted.

Short film juries should be composed of filmmakers, some of whom are actively involved in making short films.

Along with your completed application, please include catalogs from the three most recent festival editions and a letter with:

  • Mission statement – one or more paragraphs broadly describing the goals of the festival.
  • History of the festival – a brief description of the festival, including some past highlights (events, tributes, retrospectives, films, honored guests, etc.).
  • Description of the parent organization – a brief outline of the yearly activities of the festival’s parent organization.
  • Executive profiles – Brief profiles of all the primary executives of the organization.
  • One or two paragraphs explaining what new elements your festival would contribute to the existing list.

Credit: This information was taken directly from documents provided to us by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Want to see the 2013 application to know what you’re in for? Download it HERE!

So what about short films? What are the rules and regulations set by the Academy to qualify your short for an Oscar run? Here are a few of the rules and regulations, but for the most up-to-date info go to http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule19.html.

What defines a short film?

  • A short film is defined as an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits.
  • This excludes from consideration such works as previews and advertising films, sequences from feature-length films such as credit sequences, unaired episodes of established TV series, and unsold TV series pilots.

There are only two categories for short films for the Oscars, Animated Short Film and Live Action Short Film. The rules for eligibility are a little more straightforward than for film festival accreditation, but just as strict. (The following is quoted directly from the Oscars.org website)

To be eligible for award consideration for the 85th Awards year, a short film must fulfill one of the following qualifying criteria between October 1, 2011, and September 30, 2012. This qualification must take place within two years of the film’s completion date:

The picture must have been publicly exhibited for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County for a run of at least three consecutive days with at least two screenings a day. All eligible motion pictures must be publicly exhibited using 35mm or 70mm film, or in a 24- or 48-frame progressive scan Digital Cinema format with a minimum projector resolution of 2048 by 1080 pixels, source image format conforming to ST 428-1:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Image Characteristics; image compression (if used) conforming to ISO/IEC 15444-1 (JPEG 2000), and image and sound file formats suitable for exhibition in commercial Digital Cinema sites.

The audio in a typical Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is 5.1 channels of discrete audio and that is the preferred audio configuration, although up to 7.1 channels is acceptable. The minimum for a non-mono configuration of the audio shall be three channels as Left, Center, Right (a Left/Right configuration is not acceptable in a theatrical environment).

The audio data shall be formatted in conformance with ST 428-2:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Audio Characteristics and ST 428-3:2006 D-Cinema Distribution Master – Audio Channel Mapping and Channel Labeling.

Student films cannot qualify with a theatrical release.


The film must have won a qualifying award at a competitive film festival, as specified in the Academy Festival List. Proof of the award must be submitted with the entry. The Academy’s Short Film Awards Festival List is available on the Academy’s website or may be obtained from the Academy.

A student film may also qualify by winning a Gold Medal award in the Academy’s 2012 Student Academy Awards competition in the Animation, Narrative, Alternative, or Foreign Film award category. Winners in the Documentary category are not eligible.

All films must be submitted in a standard theatrical exhibition aspect ratio, in formats currently accepted by the Academy (see Paragraph III.A.1 above), regardless of any other formats that may have been used during their theatrical run. Producers may provide screenings of films in specialized formats for Academy members, but attendance at such screenings is not required for voting purposes.

A short film may not be exhibited publicly anywhere in any nontheatrical form, including but not limited to broadcast and cable television, home video, and Internet transmission, until after its Los Angeles theatrical release, or after receiving its festival award or Student Academy Award. Excerpts of the film totaling no more than ten percent of its running time are exempted from this rule.

So which festivals currently qualify for short film Academy accreditation? You can download the entire list HERE

If you’d like the Short Film Entry Form click HERE

The instructions on how to prepare your film for entry can be viewed HERE

In the past two articles we’ve covered Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences accreditation and submissions for feature films, movie theaters, short films, and film festivals. Independent filmmakers and business owners can now arm themselves with the information to take their theaters and films to the next level. The information isn’t easy to find, but it exists and credit should certainly be given to the folks at the Academy for their assistance in putting together these articles. It’s our hope that those in the independent film community will take this information and we’ll see them on the red carpet at the next Oscars presentation.


Nic LaRue Nic LaRue is the owner of FilmSnobbery, is an advocate and passionate speaker for indie film, a film reviewer, and the host of the web broadcast series FilmSnobbery Live! Nic also offers his services as an independent film consultant whose passion is giving a voice to independent content creators.


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