FILM SUBMISSIONS FAQs
Haven't heard about the status of your submission?
Submissions status for all films and screenplays submitted to ATLFF 2018 are scheduled to be released on Friday, February 9, 2018.
Unless you unsubscribed from our mailing list, you should receive at least one email about your film submission. (Our email software won't let us send out multiple emails per email address, so if you submitted multiple films you will still only get email about one of them.)
How do I submit?
You can submit to us through either FilmFreeway or Withoutabox. If you are new to either platform, your first step will be to create an account and then to create a “project” for your submission. Please refer to either Withoutabox or FilmFreeway for help on how to submit. Please do not email us your films. We cannot consider any project that has not been officially submitted through either FilmFreeway or Withoutabox.
We suggest that you use a permanent member of the crew to submit (preferably the director or a producer). Please use an email address/phone number that is checked regularly in case we need to get in touch with you throughout the submission process. If there is an issue with your submission and we are unable to get in touch with anyone by our final submission deadline, we will be forced to disqualify your submission (without refund of submission fees).
I don’t like online submissions, can I submit via paper?
No. We no longer accept film submissions that do not go through FilmFreeway or Withoutabox. It is difficult to keep track of films that are not within our system, and when there’s no electronic record of a submission, it makes addressing problems (i.e. a film was submitted, but the DVD didn’t arrive, a main contact has to be changed, etc.) troublesome.
I worked on or acted in a film, but didn’t produce or direct it; can I submit? I was the director, but not the producer, or vice versa, can I submit on my own?
If it’s not your film, it’s advisable to submit only after you’ve received permission from the filmmakers. If you are not the director, we kindly request that you also provide us with the director’s contact information.
For directors and producers, we strongly advise that everyone is in a agreement about the festivals they are submitting to, which festivals they want to play first or want to premiere at, and which version of the film is being submitted.
When disputes arise, i.e. a film has been submitted without everyone’s explicit approval or the festival strategy has changed, we suggest that productions find a solution and come to an agreement with all the key decision makers before contacting us or any festivals the film has been submitted to.
I submitted last year and wasn’t accepted. Can I resubmit?
Yes, as long as your submission is still within our eligibility window (completed after November 1, 2016). However, we recommend doing so only if the current version being submitted is a radically different cut or if the previous submission was a work in progress with lots to be done. BUT, full disclosure, it’s been rare that a resubmitted film has been accepted the next year. If you do resubmit, please note that the film is a resubmission and what changes were made between the different cuts.
When are your deadlines?
We have five deadlines throughout our submission process: Hella Early Deadline (May 31), Earlybird Deadline (June 29), Regular Deadline (September 28), Late Deadline (October 31), and Extended Deadline (November 16). After November 16, all film submissions for the 2018 ATLFF are closed.
Is there a difference if I submit early?
Yes. The main difference is that submission fees are cheaper. Submitting early won’t increase your chances of getting accepted, but it will increase your chances of a well-rested programmer watching your film. But ultimately, all submissions are evaluated equally, and every year we program films that submitted all throughout the submission period.
What are your submission fees?
You can find a full list of submission fees at www.atlantafilmfestival.com/submit.
Can I have a waiver?
The Atlanta Film Festival rarely grants waivers. The only guaranteed exceptions are for alumni of the Atlanta Film Festival and filmmakers from countries in which international sanctions prevent them from paying a fee. If this applies to you, please email us at email@example.com.
Any other waivers are granted solely at the discretion of the programmers, are often by invitation only, and are typically granted for works that fit specific genre or community-based program needs.
But I’m a struggling independent filmmaker who spent all of my money making my film!
We get it, really we do. But the reality is that the majority of filmmakers that submit to us are independent filmmakers with not a lot of money to spend. It wouldn’t be fair for us to waive fees for some and not others.
A submission fee guarantees your work is properly viewed and considered, and neither submission fees nor waivers guarantee acceptance. Submission fees support competition cash prizes, festival travel for hundreds of attending filmmakers, and the small team of staff and volunteers that will process over 3,000 hours of content this season alone.
We encourage you to take a close look at our past programming to see if you might be a good fit for our festival, and to think carefully about the festivals that you want to submit your work to. We hope that we are one of them!
QUESTIONS ABOUT SUBMITTING
What do I need to submit my film?
Each submission must be accompanied by a submission fee paid in full and a playable screener to be considered.
How do I know you received my submission?
In your Withoutabox or FilmFreeway account, you'll see a message indicating that your film satisfies all requirements and is “In Consideration”. If you see a yellow or red circle next to your submission, you’ve partially satisfied the requirements. We have either not received your screener and/or payment, there is an issue with the screener, the film was submitted to the wrong category, or there’s been an upload error with Withoutabox or FilmFreeway.
If your film has not been listed “In Consideration” within 7 business days, please contact us as soon as possible so we can look into it.
Do you accept online screeners? Can I send an outside link?
YES. We strongly encourage submitting online screeners, as they make it much easier for us to get as many eyes on your film as possible, are less susceptible to playback errors, and are good for the earth. Please only send us your film on DVD if absolutely necessary.
Our preference for online screeners are password-protected Vimeo links. Online screeners must be available to stream; we do not accept any films that must be downloaded.
For Virtual Reality submissions, it is strongly encouraged that you send your screener in a private VR-enabled format (such as YouTube 360 or Samsung Oculus app) or other formats that allow full 360 playback via Samsung Gear VR.
Sorry, but I can’t let go of DVDs. How many copies of the DVD should I send?
Two. It allows two screeners to be watching the film simultaneously and usually guarantees that we will have at least one playable version of a film.
Please test your DVDs on multiple makes and models of DVD players before sending it to us. If we are unable to play your DVD, we’ll contact you immediately for a replacement. Failure to deliver a playable DVD by our final submission deadline will result in disqualification without refund of submission fees.
How should I send my DVDs? Will I get bonus points for decorative labels, a customized DVD case, and snazzy menu screens? Don’t you want to see my 27 minute blooper reel?!
Sorry, no bonus points for flair here. In fact, we want your DVDs to be as simple (i.e. boring) as possible.
Please send DVDs in a paper sleeve and label your disc with film title, director’s name, and tracking number in plain ol’ sharpie. Hard cases take up unnecessary space and have a high chance of becoming damaged in the mail. Fancy labels have a tendency of messing up in the DVD player, and can result in an unplayable DVD.
Can I submit a Blu-ray?
No. Please don’t do this, it’s honestly a waste of your hard earned dollars. We understand that you want us to see the best, most beautiful version of your film. But for our purposes a DVD will suffice. It’s actually pretty rare that submissions are screened on televisions, it’s much more likely that your film is seen on a computer screen. Trust us, if we love your film, we’ll love it however we watch it. If your film is accepted, we look forward to seeing it in all of its glory on our big screen!
When must submitted films arrive?
The deadline dates are not postmark deadlines; they are the dates by which your DVD must be received in our office (or the date by which you must attach a working online screener to your submission). We understand there are delays that cannot be foreseen. If your DVD will not arrive by the deadline due to a last minute issue, you can contact us so we can evaluate options.
Any submissions that do not have a paid submission fee by the deadline will either be bumped up to our next tier submission fee or face the potential of being disqualified outright. Any submissions that do not have a working screener by our final deadline will be disqualified without refund of submission fees.
If I submit an online screener do I have to also submit 2 DVDs?
No. We either need an online screener or 2 DVDs; we don’t need both.
Do you accept rough cuts/works-in-progress?
Yes. Just be sure to mark the submission as a rough cut/work-in-progress/WIP both in your cover letter and in the screener file itself. Please note which elements are incomplete (ex: color correction, score, missing shots, etc.) We see incomplete versions of films all of the time, and our programming staff is very adept at using our imagination. Just keep in mind that if you are accepted you’ll need to be prepared to deliver the final cut to us by February 1, 2018.
Can we send updated versions of the film?
Yes. However, please adhere to the following guidelines:
Any updates must be made directly to the online screener attached to your submission. For example, if you have a Vimeo link attached to your Withoutabox/FilmFreeway account, any updates to your Vimeo link should be updated on our end as well. We cannot accept updated versions via email or DVD.
ATLFF is only responsible for considering the project as it exists at the time of review. We are under no obligation to revisit updated cuts once a screener has been seen, so be sure that the submitted cut is a fair representation of the final piece.
No updated cuts will be accepted after the final deadline: November 16, 2017.
Can we get the copy of our film back?
No. We do not return copies of submitted films. Please do not send us any originals, and don’t send a self-addressed stamped envelope with your submission.
How many films can I submit?
You can submit as many projects as you would like as long as they are all eligible to screen at the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival. However, you must pay a separate submission fee for each category. We do not offer bulk discounts.
When will filmmakers be notified of the final decisions for the 2018 Atlanta Film Festival?
Final notifications are scheduled to take place no later than February 9, 2018. Some filmmakers may receive notification sooner than this but if you haven't heard from us yet, you're still in the running.
How will we be notified*?
Accepted films will receive an invitation letter by email. Films not accepted will also be notified by email by the notification deadline. Please make sure the email address associated with your submission remains active throughout the submission process. Your status of Accepted/Not Accepted will also be reflected in FilmFreeway or Withoutabox by the notification date.
Note: Email filters have a hard time with addresses that start with info@, mail@, admin@, etc. If you’re using one of these email addresses, it’s more likely your notification email may not arrive. We also suggest using an email address that someone checks daily.
*Notification dates are subject to change, please check the festival website every few weeks for updates. We strive to notify all submitters via email when a change will be made.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ATLFF’S PROGRAMMING
What genres do you accept?
EVERYTHING! Yes, that includes experimental, puppetry, horror and sci-fi.
Will you take a look at my film and tell me if I should submit to you?
Sorry, but no. We cannot review any films that have not been officially submitted to us. We get so many submissions that we have to dedicate our time to watching the films that have gone the official route (and paid their submission fee).
Again, you can take a look at our past programs to get an idea of what we’ve been into in the past. But keep in mind, our program is going to look different every year. The number one thing we’re looking for is originality. We watch thousands of films every year, and we’re always on the search for films that present something new and really stand out from the crowd. If this sounds like your film, send it our way!
How long can films be?
We consider a short film as anything shorter than 39 minutes and 59 seconds and anything 40 minutes or over as a feature film.
We have no cut off for runtime, but shorter is always better (as shorter films allow for more flexibility when building our schedule). Runtime is especially significant when it comes to short films. It’s pretty rare that we choose to program a 30-minute short film when we could program two 15-minute shorts, or 3 10-minute shorts (giving an opportunity to more filmmakers). However, there are always exceptions to this rule!
For the record, our average runtime for shorts in 2017 was 14 minutes. The average for features was 82 minutes.
If I submit to one category, will I be considered for others I may be eligible for?
No. You are only considered for the category you submit your film to. Please don’t submit your film to a category with a cheaper fee even though it belongs somewhere else. Films submitted to an inappropriate category will be disqualified without a refund. Read the category descriptions carefully, and email us if you have any questions.
Do you have any ratings limitations? Must films be PG or PG-13? Do you program films with strong content and language?
We have no ratings limitations on films submitted. We program films with a variety content, from family friendly to work that would be more appropriate for mature audiences and would likely be rated R or higher. Our mission is to program great films and a strong lineup first and foremost.
Do you have a preference for local films or films with local connections?
Every year we strive to be a strong advocate of local talent and filmmakers. We are proud to highlight homegrown talent, films with local ties, and work made by ex-Atlantans and Georgians. However, being from Atlanta or Georgia does not guarantee acceptance and films have to stand alongside the other films in ATLFF’s programming. We never have a minimum number of local films we try to program, which is also why we don’t have a locals only section. By not having a locals only section, we can focus on programming a wide range of films from around the world and not be forced to reach an arbitrary number.
In 2017, we introduced a Georgia Film submissions category, with a flat entry fee of $20. The Georgia Film category is for any feature or short film that was at least partially filmed in Georgia AND comes from a director who resides in the state of Georgia. Submitting to this category requires a password. If your film meets the above criteria, email GA@atlantafilmfestival.com. Please allow up to 7 business days for a response.
If you submit to this category, your film will be eligible for the Georgia Film Award as well as any other juried categories that we may deem appropriate. If you submit in this category without meeting the necessary criteria, you will be disqualified from consideration into the festival and will not be issued a refund.
Is there a discount for student work?
Yes, there is a discount for student work ($5 off of the submission fee). If your project is registered as a student project on Withoutabox, the discount will be included automatically. To receive the discount on FilmFreeway, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of student status (ID or transcript). To qualify, you must either be a current student or you must have completed the film during the time you were a student.
Do you have competition sections?
Yes. Jury Prizes for feature films include Narrative and Documentary. Jury Prizes for short films include Narrative, Animated, and Documentary.
How many films are put in competition?
The number of competition films varies from year to year. There are normally 8 to 12 features films in each feature competition section (Narrative and Documentary) and 5 to 20 films in each short film competition section (Narrative, Documentary, and Animation).
Do you screen films out of competition?
Yes. Most of our films will screen out of competition. In addition, films that screen out of competition may still be eligible for non-juried awards. Each year we have an Audience Award for both Features and Short films (voted on by the audience after each screening). Other non-juried awards in the past have included the Georgia Film Award, New Mavericks Award, and Pink Peach Award.
How do you program your shorts?
We program shorts thematically. Excluding a few shorts programs every year, we do not choose the themes ahead of time. We look to see what themes we can build from the submissions received. Hence, why one year we will have an Other Worlds (Sci-Fi/Horror) block and another year have a Love NC-17 block.
Do you program international films?
Yes, we love international films! Each year, we screen films representing over 30 countries, selected from submissions received from over 120. We’d program more if we had the slots.
Do you prefer films with stars?
No. We prefer great and interesting stories. If a star happens to show up in a really great film, cool. But it’s not a requirement.
Have you programmed films that are available online?
Yes, on a case by case basis. We generally prioritize films that have not yet been released to the public. However, any feature films that are available online are not eligible to screen at the Atlanta Film Festival.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SCREENING/JUDGING PROCESS
Who are your screeners?
We use 50 to 100 screeners from the Atlanta community to watch films each year. Some are academics, some are filmmakers, some have been attending ATLFF for years, some screen for other festivals including the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, and others are past ATLFF alums.
Can someone who submitted a film or worked on a submitted film also be a screener?
Yes. For above the line crew (typically director, producer, writer), we will restrict you from judging films in the same category you submitted in.
How are films scored?
Each film is watched by multiple screeners and evaluated across several different criteria. Screeners are asked a series of questions about each film, working to determine whether or not the film is a good fit for the festival.
Are films selected solely on screener feedback?
No. When it comes to final selections, films are selected based on the overall filmmaking, variety, and what will make the strongest and most interesting lineup. When it comes to selecting films, it’s a film’s content and quality that matter, not its score. Screener feedback is important to the process but not an ultimate qualifier.
Are films only selected from the group that received high marks from screeners?
No. Programmers will go through notes from each film, regardless of how high or low it scored. Films that did not make the final round but thematically complete a program or pair well with a feature may be reevaluated and selected. Film selection is about making curatorial choices that make the strongest group of films, and we strive to revisit as many films as possible to make sure we create the strongest lineup.
Can I find out how my film is doing once I’ve submitted?
Sorry, but no. Please don’t call or email us asking for updates on your film. We’re a year round arts organization. In addition to overseeing the 6,000+ submissions we receive for the festival we’re constantly planning screenings, running workshops, and hosting events. Furthermore, the submission review process is long and complex, and typically doesn’t firm up until very close to our notification date. There are films that receive high scores from screeners early on that simply don’t have a place in the festival. There are also films that receive so-so scores from screeners that end up being the missing piece in the program. We don’t want to tell you anything we cannot absolutely committ to. You’ll know when we do.
Who makes final selections?
Final selections are made by the Programming Department.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ACADEMY AWARD QUALIFICATIONS
I saw that you’re an Academy-Award qualifying festival. What does that mean?
We are Academy-Award qualifying in our Narrative, Documentary, and Animated Shorts categories. That means that each year the film that wins our Best Narrative Short jury award qualifies for the Best Live Action Short category, the film that wins our Best Documentary Short jury award qualifies for the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category, and the film that wins our Best Animated Short jury award qualifies for the Best Animated Short Film category at the following year’s Academy Awards.
Please refer to the Academy Award’s RULES & ELIGIBILITY Website for more information.