Wisconsin’s Own Submission Guidelines

Thank you for considering the Wisconsin Film Festival for your film! Submissions for the 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival Wisconsin’s Own category are now open.

Please explore the panels below for all the information you’ll need to know to submit your Wisconsin-related film!

Note: the Wisconsin Film Festival only accepts submissions for the Wisconsin’s Own category. The Wisconsin Film Festival now uses FilmFreeway, an online submission platform, for its Wisconsin’s Own submissions.

  • About

    ABOUT THE WISCONSIN FILM FESTIVAL

    The Wisconsin Film Festival is presented by the UW-Madison Arts Institute in association with the Department of Communication Arts. Founded in 1999, the Festival presents an average of 150 film screenings over 8 days every spring, making it the largest university-produced film festival in the nation.

    Some festivals rely entirely on submissions for their titles, whiles others are completely curated and programmed without a request for submissions. The Wisconsin Film Festival works both ways in its efforts to showcase emerging local talent while presenting the best films available from around the globe.

    The Festival presents quality work from outside the mainstream film industry that otherwise may not be seen in commercial theaters. We look for films that represent different facets of filmmaking, from polished productions to no-budget gems. Each year’s selections are a blend of films made available to festivals, scouted from around the world combined with smaller, under-the-radar works that illustrate a variety of cinematic styles.

    We work to bring great motion pictures – large and small – to Madison for well-organized screenings in front of enthusiastic and frequently sold-out crowds. Tickets are reasonably priced and available to all.

    In 2017, the Festival was presented at a variety of conveniently located Madison screens both on and off the University of Wisconsin campus. All of our venues strive to be state-of-the art screening spaces offering superb high-definition video and 35mm projection. Films are screened on DCP, 35mm, 16mm, or high-quality digital files.

    If your film is selected, we’ll ensure your screening is promoted accurately and enthusiastically in the Festival program. We will safely care for your film and present it with the highest technical integrity.

  • Categories

    WISCONSIN’S OWN

    This category is for filmmakers and films with Wisconsin ties. Eligible films will be shot primarily or significantly (at least one-third) on location in Wisconsin and/or one or more of the film’s principal creative personnel – director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, lead actor, etc. – must be one of the following: born in Wisconsin, a current or former Wisconsin resident for one or more years, or an alumnus or current student at a school located in Wisconsin.

    Wisconsin’s Own 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. As far as who constitutes principal creative personnel, here’s one example: a film with a prominent and significant original soundtrack written by a Wisconsin resident is a good candidate; a film whose Wisconsin connection consists of a song heard on the soundtrack by a band with a drummer whose grandparents live in Wisconsin is not.

    Within the above guidelines, we accept narrative, documentary, experimental, or animated work of any length. Your film must have been completed after January 1, 2017.

    WISCONSIN’S OWN STUDENT

    Essentially classified the same as Wisconsin’s Own, this category is specifically for students at Wisconsin schools, or Wisconsin residents attending college/university in other states. There is a smaller entry fee. Entrants 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 as a student, and have recently graduated, you may submit that film in this category. Films do not need to be class projects to qualify.

    The Festival reserves the right to verify student status and film completion dates as well as the right to verify Wisconsin ties for any submission in both categories.

  • Deadlines

    All Wisconsin’s Own submissions must be complete by end of business day on Friday, December 29, 2017.

  • Eligible Films

    YOUR SUBMISSION MUST HAVE A WISCONSIN CONNECTION TO BE ELIGIBLE

    Eligible films will be shot primarily or significantly (at least one-third) on location in Wisconsin and/or one or more of the film’s principal creative personnel – director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, lead actor, etc. – must be one of the following: born in Wisconsin, a current or former Wisconsin resident for one or more years, or an alumnus or current student at a school located in Wisconsin.

    Within the above guidelines, we accept narrative, documentary, experimental, or animated work of any length. Your film must have been completed after January 1, 2017.

    Please review the above paragraphs carefully. Submission fees will not be refunded simply because your film fails to meet the ‘Wisconsin’s Own’ requirements.

    The Wisconsin Film Festival does not insist upon premiere status. Films shown in other festivals, in limited noncommercial exhibition, or at cast/crew screenings are eligible. However, programming preference is given to films without significant exposure in Wisconsin theatrical and broadcast markets prior to the Festival.

    Rough cuts, temp prints, temp/scratch music, etc. may be submitted. However, substantially incomplete films are harder to evaluate, and you must be confident that your film will be finished in time for inclusion in the Festival. Before submitting a rough cut, please seriously consider how well your current version reflects the final quality of your work.

    Since the Festival does not accept films that have been submitted in previous years, sending in a rough cut would count as the film’s single eligible submission opportunity. If you don’t feel that the current version of the film is sufficient for Festival programmers to make a final decision, wait until the film is complete and submit for next year’s Festival. Programming decisions are final. Review your options carefully before sending an unfinished project.

    The Festival will not consider:

    1. Commercials or advertisements. Music videos. Educational, industrial, medical, or institutional films. Video games. Stand-alone trailers. Films with prior substantial theatrical exhibition, commercial TV broadcast or webcast, or commercial video distribution in the Madison, Wisconsin market.
    2. Films submitted to the Wisconsin Film Festival in previous years, including work that had been submitted earlier as a rough cut.
    3. Films completed before January 1, 2017.
    4. Work that will not be completed in time for the Festival. The Festival does not include “works in progress” in its final program.
  • Submission Process

    The Wisconsin Film Festival now uses FilmFreeway for its Wisconsin’s Own submissions. Before you make your submission, please take note of the following:

    Establish a 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 must 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 are the responsibility of the film production.

    Complete the Online Entry Form and upload your film. FilmFreeway is an online submission platform. As soon as you create a project in FilmFreeway you will be directed to your Project Page where you can easily upload your project file (up to 10GB) or link your video via Vimeo or YouTube. Upon receiving your submission, FilmFreeway will send you a submission confirmation letter. Please visit the FilmFreeway Help Center for more information.

    Provide Entry Fee. Feature films (60 minutes or more) cost $45; short films (less than 60 minutes) cost $35; and student films (any length) cost $15.

  • Submission Formats

    FilmFreeway accepts all major video formats in full quality HD up to 10 GB. They transcode videos for playback compatibility and performance and recommend that you use settings close to their output settings:

    • Maximum video bitrate: 2200 Kbps, H.264, mp4
    • Audio: 128 Kbps, AAC, 2 channel stereo
    • Aspect ratio preserved; maximum video height of 720 pixels

     

    Please visit the FilmFreeway Help Center for more information.

  • Acceptance

    IF YOUR FILM IS ACCEPTED

    All contacts will be notified of their film’s status (regardless of acceptance) no later than February 15, 2018. In the event your film is selected, we will ask what format(s) you will 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 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 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 shorts programs where there may be a dozen films together).

    The film’s primary contact person will also receive a Festival pass which will allow that person and a guest to attend films and other events at the 2018 Festival.

  • The Golden Badgers

    The films accepted in the Wisconsin’s Own category for inclusion in the Festival 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.

    Cash prizes are awarded with amounts dependent on the number of awards given (in 2017, $250 for each recipient). Additionally, our audience votes for their favorite narrative and documentary feature films (Steep & Brew Audience Awards).

    By submitting your film to the Festival, you must agree to the final decisions made by the juries. Neither the Festival staff nor the juries are able to provide comments about work not selected for the Festival. Any filmmaker who contacts a juror about the status of a submitted film may be disqualified.

Complete the Online Entry Form and upload your film. FilmFreeway is an online submission platform. As soon as you create a project in FilmFreeway you will be directed to your Project Page where you can easily upload your project file (up to 10GB) or link your video via Vimeo or YouTube. Upon receiving your submission, FilmFreeway will send you a submission confirmation letter.

CONTACT INFO

We always welcome questions about the Wisconsin Film Festival and the submissions process!

Ben Reiser | Outreach & Community Engagement Manager
ben.reiser@wisc.edu | 608-262-9009