FILM SUBMISSIONS FAQs

If you have any questions that are not answered here or in our submission Rules & Terms on FilmFreeway, please email us at submit@atlantafilmfestival.com. We are unable to address inquiries via phone.

Click here for Screenplay Submission FAQs.


GENERAL QUESTIONS

How do I submit?
For the 2020 Atlanta Film Festival, we are only accepting submissions on FilmFreeway. If you are new to FilmFreeway, your first step will be to create an account and then to create a “project” for your submission. Please refer to the following page for more information on how to create a project and submit to festivals: https://filmfreeway.com/help.

Please do not email us your films. We cannot consider any project that has not been officially submitted through FilmFreeway.

We strongly suggest that you have 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. It is difficult to keep track of films that are not within our official 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 October 1, 2018). 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 (June 6), Early Deadline (July 11), Regular Deadline (September 26), Late Deadline (October 24), and Extended Deadline (November 14). After November 14, all film submissions for the 2020 ATLFF are closed.

Please keep track of deadlines closely if you plan on submitting within a certain submission window. All deadlines are set for 11:59pm EST (with the exception of our final deadline on November 14 at 11:59pm EST).  

Any submissions with an unpaid balance after a deadline will be required to pay the following deadline’s submission fee. Failure to pay the appropriate fee will result in disqualification without a refund.

Any submissions that are incomplete (missing payment or a working screener) by our final deadline will be disqualified without refund of submission fees. You can find a full list of deadlines (and associated submission fees) at the following link: atlantafilmfestival.com/submit.

Is there a difference if I submit early?
Yes and no. The main difference if you submit early is that you will spend less money on your submission fee. Submitting early won’t increase your chances of getting accepted (though it may 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. Typically the only exceptions are for alumni of the Atlanta Film Festival and filmmakers from countries in which international sanctions prevent them from paying a fee. If either of these terms apply to you, please email us at submit@atlantafilmfestival.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.

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 roughly 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 FilmFreeway account, under the “Submissions” tab, you can locate your submission to our festival. As long as the Submission Status is listed as “In Consideration”, your film has satisfied all of our requirements and is ready to be reviewed by our screeners and programmers.

Films that are listed “Incomplete” at the time you submit are most likely missing a screener. Please check your submission again to ensure that your screener was uploaded properly.

If we discover an issue with your submission during the submissions process (i.e. screener was deleted, password was changed, is missing audio or subtitles etc.) we will reach out to the submitter to correct the problem. At this point, we will also update the status of the film to “Incomplete”. If at any point your film is listed Incomplete and you did not receive an email disclosing the reason, please reach out to us at submit@atlantafilmfestival.com.

Do you accept online screeners? Can I send an outside link?
YES. We have now transitioned to only accept online screeners, we can no longer accept submissions on DVD or Blu-Ray. Please do not send DVDs or Blu-Rays to our office, they will be recycled.

Our preference for online screeners are password-protected Vimeo links or films uploaded directly to FilmFreeway. Online screeners must be available to stream; we do not accept any films that must be downloaded.

The submitter is responsible for ensuring that their screener link and password is active through at least May 11, 2020. In the event of a password or screener URL change after submitting, email us immediately. If we discover an error with the screener, we will attempt to email the submission contact for an update. Failure to respond by the final submission deadline will result in disqualification without refund of submission fees.

How do I submit Virtual Reality films and how are they reviewed?

The submitter must A) provide a 360-enabled screener, such as Vimeo or YouTube, or B) both a 360 screener and download link. Downloadable 360 films will be viewed on an Oculus Go. For non-360 films and interactive works (such as VIVE/RIFT), please send a recording of the project. While you are welcome to send builds, we must have a recording as the primary submission copy.

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 21, 2020.

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 FilmFreeway account, any updates to your Vimeo link or FilmFreeway screener should be updated on our end as well. We cannot accept updated versions via email.

  • 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 14, 2019.

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 2020 Atlanta Film Festival. However, you must pay a separate submission fee for each category.

When will filmmakers be notified of the final decisions for the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival?
Final notifications are scheduled to take place no later than end of day on February 6, 2020. 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 that are not accepted to screen 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, and add each of the following accounts to your address book to prevent our communication from going to spam: (submit@atlantafilmfestival.com, noreply@filmfreeway.com). Your status of Accepted/Not Accepted will also be reflected in FilmFreeway under “Submissions” by the end of day on February 6.

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.

Okay, but what kind of films do you play?
EVERYTHING! Really, take a look at some of our past programs for an idea of the scope of our programming: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

Will you take a look at my film and tell me if I should submit to you?
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).

Perusing our past program guides (listed above) is the best way to get an sense of our programming ethos. 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!

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 of content, from family-friendly to work that would only be appropriate for mature audiences. 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 former Atlantans and Georgians. However, being from Atlanta or Georgia does not guarantee acceptance and all Georgia films have to stand alongside the other films in ATLFF’s program.

In 2017, we introduced a Georgia Film submissions category 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. The Georgia Film Category has a flat entry fee of $25 up until our extended deadline period (when it increases to $50).

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). This discount should be built into FilmFreeway. 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 are awarded in the following categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Short, Animated Short, and Documentary Short.  

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).

Films placed in competition are chosen solely at the discretion of the ATLFF programming team. Acceptance to the festival does not guarantee placement in competition.

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 (ex: Comedy Shorts), we do not choose the themes ahead of time. We look to see what themes we can build from the submissions received.

Do you program international films?
Yes, we love international films! Each year, we screen films representing over 45 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 re-evaluated 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?
No. Please do not call or email us asking for updates on your film. We’re a year round arts organization. In addition to overseeing the 8,400+ film and screenplay 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 commit 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.

If you have any questions that are not answered here or in our submission Rules & Terms on FilmFreeway, please email us at submit@atlantafilmfestival.com. We are unable to address inquiries via phone.


Questions answered?