The Free Film Festival “Cheat” Sheet

DadminFilm Festivals

Did you know that there are teenagers who are screening their films all over the world?

Did you know there are high school students who are traveling across the oceans for free?

Did you know that a film you made in a weekend may be exactly what a film festival is looking for?

And, did you know that there are film festivals that are waiting for YOUR film?

If you don’t believe me or don’t know anything about film festivals yet, first read the article “Navigating the Film Festival Maze,” then come back here.

Through Big Little Filmmaker we have compiled a database of all of the film festivals that are geared specifically towards young filmmakers. We have also included some large festivals that offer categories established for young filmmakers. Use our BLF Free Film Festival “Cheat” Sheet as your checklist for film festivals you simply need to enter. Remember, every festival is looking for something different. If you get rejected, don’t be disheartened; just enter another festival. And another. Believe me when I tell you I get rejected from film festivals literally every day… but every so often my films are accepted into festivals. It’s always better to go for it. Just do it.

STEP ONE: Make a film. It can be 1-minute. It can be an an hour and a half. It can be a comedy. It can be romance. It can be a music video. It can be an animation. You can make it in a day. You can spend a year on it. Just make a film. Want inspiration? Check out the selections and finalist films of the All American High School Film Festival (it’s a film festival for middle school and high school filmmakers, that’s right!) on their YouTube page.

STEP TWO: Set up an account on FilmFreeway, go to the “My Projects” section, and then click “Add a New Project.” Fill everything out. FilmFreeway will become your home base for submitting your films to festivals. There are other websites offering similar services, but FilmFreeway is my favorite (and the most popular one out there).

STEP THREE: Enter festivals. Many of these festivals will let you enter directly through FilmFreeway, so you don’t even have to do much more than clicking a few buttons. Right now you’re probably wondering… what festivals should I enter? Where do I find them? Well you are in luck! You can look through our film festival database on this website at your leisure. However, to make your life even easier, we have created the BLF Free Film Festival “Cheat” Sheet as a tool to quickly locate the entry deadlines of the FREE film festivals you should enter right away.

By the way, we are updating the BLF Free Film Festival “Cheat” Sheet frequently, so be sure to check back here often!

Finally, don’t be limited by this list! Go out and find more festivals to enter. Heck, enter festivals that AREN’T geared towards youth! Be bold! What’s stopping you?

1… 2… 3… start submitting!

~ Kira Bursky


The Free Film Festival Cheat Sheet

(For Big Little Filmmakers ages 12-22)
(We’ve highlighted some of our favorites in red.)

March 2016

  • Connector.

    TIFF Next Wave Jump Cuts

    Deadline: 03/18/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Santa Monica International Teen Film Festival

    Deadline: 03/18/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Extremely Young Film Festival

    Deadline: 03/28/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Lovett School High School Film Festival

    Deadline: 03/29/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    The Progeny Film Festival

    Deadline: 03/31/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

April 2016

  • Connector.

    Student Cuts

    Deadline: 04/01/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    The Forester High School Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/01/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    New Cumberland Student Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/08/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Reels on Wheels

    Deadline: 04/08/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Super International Teenager Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/10/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Quindici 19

    Deadline: 04/11/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Concordia Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/15/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    The Righteous Conversations Project at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

    Deadline: 04/15/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Take 21

    Deadline: 04/15/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Viva Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/15/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    TVT Southern California Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/20/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Scout Film Festival

    Deadline: 04/25/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

May 2016

  • Connector.

    ViewFinders Youth Film Competition

    Deadline: 05/09/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    The Custom Reels Short Film Awards

    Deadline: 05/13/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    About Women and Girls: A To the Contrary Film Festival

    Deadline: 05/15/16

    Age: College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Heartland Film Festival

    Deadline: 05/23/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Chicago International Children's Film Festival

    Deadline: 05/31/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

June 2016

  • Connector.

    Josiah Media Festival

    Deadline: 06/01/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Princeton Student Film and Video Festival

    Deadline: 06/01/16

    Age: Middle School, High School, College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Tallgrass International Film Festival

    Deadline: 06/22/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    City of Tustin Student Film Festival

    Deadline: 06/24/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    First Step Film Fest

    Deadline: 06/30/16

    Age: College
    Festival Information

July 2016

  • Connector.

    Out of Bounds Film Festival

    Deadline: 07/10/16

    Age: College
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    Grenada Afterglow Film Festival

    Deadline: 07/15/16

    Age: High School
    Festival Information

  • Connector.

    All American High School Film Festival

    Deadline: 07/18/16

    Age: Middle School, High School
    Festival Information

August 2016

  • Connector.

    East Anglian Student Film Festival

    Deadline: 08/26/16

    Age: Middle School. High School, College
    Festival Information

September 2016