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submit your film
Thank you for considering the Wisconsin Film Festival. The Festival welcomes narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated films or videos of any length. Films must have a Wisconsin connection; this is explained below.
Note: The Wisconsin Film Festival does not use third-party submission services like Withoutabox.
Wisconsin’s Own (a juried competition for the Golden Badger awards)
For filmmakers with “Wisconsin ties,” which is defined as either:
There are gray areas. This category’s intention is to celebrate films that reflect the creative spirit of our state, so please bear this in mind as you determine whether this category applies to you. A musical film with a prominent and significant original soundtrack written by a Wisconsin resident is a good candidate; a film with a song by a band with a drummer whose grandparents live in Wisconsin is not.
The Festival reserves the right to verify Wisconsin ties for any submission.
Wisconsin’s Own Student (a juried competition for the Golden Badger awards)
This is essentially the same category as “Wisconsin’s Own,” but specifically for students at Wisconsin colleges or universities, or Wisconsin residents attending college/university in other states. There is a smaller entry fee, and a later deadline. You must meet the same criteria for Wisconsin ties, as described above. Student status applies to the primary director/filmmaker only, not to other members of the cast and crew. It also applies to the time when the film was made. If you made a short film when you were a student, and have now graduated, you may submit that film in this student category. Films do not need to be class projects to qualify.
Each student film entry must include a photocopy of the primary filmmaker’s student ID. The Festival reserves the right to verify student status, film completion dates, or Wisconsin ties for any entrant.
About the festival
Some festivals rely entirely on submissions for their titles. Others are entirely curated and
programmed without a request for submissions. A portion of the Wisconsin Film Festival
program always comes from the submission process, as part of a commitment to showcasing
What prizes can I win?
A big part of the success of the Wisconsin Film Festival has been supporting the notion that
there is merit in all films in the program. Our goal is to expand people’s understanding and
acceptance of what makes a good movie, not to narrow it by selecting the “best” ones. Limiting
the prizes to audience selected awards and to awards for Wisconsin’s Own films means that we
can balance the wish to support our local filmmakers with showing the respect and affection that
we feel for every single film that in the final program.
Cash prizes are given to films in the Wisconsin’s Own categories (for example in 2013, $250 for
each recipient of the Golden Badger award) to help promote filmmaking in the state. And the
audience votes for their favorite narrative and documentary feature films (Steep & Brew
2014 submission guidelines
The Submission Process
Partial or incomplete entries cannot be accepted, so please double-check that you have included everything required,especially if it’s close to the submission deadline.
Contact person One person should be designated as the contact for each entry. The Festival handles hundreds of submissions and can only successfully work with one contact per film. The contact need not be the director, but should be authorized to submit the work, supply information as described on the entry form, and speak on behalf of the film. All necessary rights and permissions for festival exhibition of each work submitted is the responsibility of the film production.
This festival does not require elaborate submissions materials. However, although the online entry form is convenient in many ways, it doesn’t retain any formatting for blocks of text. You may also choose to include longer (or more nicely formatted) versions of the material in the online entry form, e.g., film synopsis, list of principle cast and crew, and filmmaker bios. Press kits are not required at the submission stage. If your film is accepted, then we’ll ask for more.
Narrative, documentary, experimental, or animated work of any length. Your film must have been completed after January 1, 2012.
Films shown in other festivals, in limited noncommercial exhibition, or at cast/crew screenings are eligible. Programming preference is given to films without significant exposure in Wisconsin theatrical and broadcast markets prior to the Festival. It’s fine — awesome, really — if your film has played at other film festivals in Wisconsin or in the Midwest.
The Wisconsin Film Festival does not insist upon any premiere status.
Although rough cuts can be submitted, very rough films are harder to evaluate. Only you can be the judge of how well your current version reflects the final quality of your work. Programming decisions are final, so please think twice before sending an incomplete project.
[Rough cuts] “Rough cuts,” “temp prints,” “temp/scratch music,” etc. can be accepted as submission entries. However, since the Festival does not accept films that have been submitted in previous years (see #2 of the list below), sending in a rough cut would count as the film’s single eligible submission time. If you don’t feel that your current cut of the film is sufficient for Festival programmers to make a final decision, then please wait until the film is complete and submit for next year’s Festival.
Please list directly on the DVD case (tape a note to the case, or some other equivalent method) which elements of your film are missing.
Rough cuts may be submitted as long as you are confident that you will have locked and finished your film in time for work with the Festival programming schedule.
You can submit more than one film, as long as each work meets the applicable criteria. Each film must be on a separate DVD. Multiple entries can be mailed together in the same envelope.
The Festival will not consider:
It’s okay to keep your submission materials simple. It’s what’s onscreen that matters. There’s no need to create an elaborate marketing package. A plain white paper sleeve is as good as anything else (as long as you pack it securely for mailing). Put your energy and money into your crew, your other festival submissions, or your next film.
Submissions must be on DVD; either NTSC or PAL. At this time, submissions are not
Please master in the conventional DVD-Video format (a VIDEO_TS folder with .IFO, .BUP, and .VOB files). Please do not submit an .AVI, .MOV, or other video file which has simply been burned onto a DVD disc.
Make sure your DVD is not blank and does not freeze or skip. Please take the time to play it and watch it all the way through on a different player than you used to burn it. We have lots of different versatile playback devices here, but we can’t watch something that’s incompletely written to disc. If your DVD is unplayable, we will contact you for a replacement.
Label your DVD with the title of the film, approximate run time, the director’s name, and the name of the contact person if it’s different than the director. Please make sure it’s easy to identify the title of your film.
If you are submitting more than one work, please use a separate DVD for each entry. Multiple entries can be mailed together in the same envelope.
Any “making of,” deleted scenes, and other extra sequences are not considered part of the submission and will not be watched.
[Formats to show at the Festival] If your film is selected, we’ll ask at that time which format(s) you’ll have available to show at the Festival. Programmers will determine which format will work best to match your film with the right theater and program. The Festival does not project films or videos from computer files.
The Golden Badgers
The Wisconsin’s Own films are reviewed by Festival programmers and a jury. The jurors are generally filmmakers, film industry professionals, critics, or curators who have a commitment to supporting regional filmmakers and film culture in Wisconsin. Often, jurors have Wisconsin roots or are UW–Madison alumni.
The jurors award prizes called “Golden Badgers” to films that show significant technical and artistic achievement. (Why are they named after badgers?)
Cash prizes are awarded, with amounts depending on the number of awards given (in 2013, $250 for each recipient).
By submitting your film to the Festival, you must agree to the final decisions made by the juries.
There is only a single deadline for each category — no “early bird” or expensive “last chance”
After the online entry form is completed, an automated email is generated for the contact person. When we receive and your mailed DVD and confirm your complete submission, we’ll send another confirmation note.
All contact people will be notified of their film’s status (accepted or not accepted into the Festival) no later than February 15, 2014.
Feature films (60 minutes or more): $45
Please pay in U.S. funds by check (payable to “Wisconsin Film Festival”), money order, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit cards. There is a $20 fee for any check returned by your bank as unpaid or insufficient funds.
Filmmakers paying the student rate must include a photocopy of their valid student ID.
Please channel communications with the Festival through your contact person designated on the entry form.
You are welcome to ask questions about the Wisconsin Film Festival and the submissions process. No question too small:
Matt Connolly, programmer
email@example.com | 608-890-4390
mailing address for entries:
Wisconsin Film Festival
1050 University Ave.
Madison WI 53706 USA
office address for hand-delivery:
B136 Lathrop Hall
1050 University Ave. Madison WI 53706 USA
If Your Film is Accepted
All contacts will be notified of their film’s status (accepted or not accepted into the Festival) no
later than February 15, 2014.
We’ll send you more information about what’s required at that point, including at least one still photo from the film and photos of the filmmakers. The Festival’s print traffic coordinator will make arrangements for getting the final exhibition version of your film.
The Wisconsin Film Festival regrets that it is not able to financially support travel expenses. Acceptance of your film into the Festival program should not be interpreted as also including travel costs or other expenses.
A certain number of free tickets to your film’s screening(s) will be arranged for the contact person. The exact number may vary depending on the size of the theater and the number of other filmmakers included in the same program (such as for shorts programs where there may be a dozen films together).
Filmmakers will also receive a free ticket package to see other films around the Festival. These can be used by filmmakers, or shared with friends if you are not able to attend. The specific details of how many free tickets, and how to receive them, will be sent to you if your film is accepted.