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Stuck in there? Here are seven online film festivals and challenges filmmakers can tackle from home. Try them out and maximize your creativity.

At its core, filmmaking is the art of mastering challenges. From logistic to pragmatic to creative, creating films requires a lot of problem solving and perseverance. For filmmakers who are stuck inside or simply cut off from their usual employees, colleagues and support channels, creating films and video content might not be an option.

However, since we covered some of the best (so far) quarantine short films to come out in our summary, a positive attitude, a creative approach, and a determined desire to work with limited resources is really necessary.

So as long as you have a camera (or even just a smartphone), some kind of editing device and at least yourself as an actor, it is entirely within your reach to create a short film that can be both cinematic and powerful. And even better, if you've put together something you're proud of, there are actually a lot of great online film festivals and film challenges you can submit your project to. Let's look at seven that we recommend.

Roger Cormans film festival

First up is an online movie challenge from legendary director Roger Corman. Corman is known for being a B-movie legend and mentor to numerous emerging filmmakers such as James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola (to name a few). His challenge, which he calls the "Corman Quarantine Film Festival", is fairly easily presented on his Instagram using the following rules:

  1. You need to stay at home and stay safe and film the video in your house or back yard.
  2. The short film has to be filmed on a cell phone.
  3. It has to be under two minutes.

To participate, all you have to do is create your content, upload it to social media (in this case Instagram), tag Roger Corman's account along with the hashtag #CormanChallenge and he promises to check it out!

Quarantine film festival

This online film festival offers filmmakers the opportunity to enter weekly. Image via FilmFreeway.

The Quarantine Film Festival, hosted by the Plaza Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, is an ongoing online film festival that receives contributions every Monday through Wednesday and posts the winners on Fridays on the festival's Facebook page. The best thing is that they plan to present the last five for an on-site festival as soon as the theater can reopen. More information can be found here.

COVIDaVINCI Film Festival

7 best digital film festivals and online film challenges - COVIDaVINCI Film Festival

This cool film festival encourages filmmakers to submit a five-minute shelter-in-place production. Image via DaVinci Film Festival.

The COVIDaVINCI Film Festival, usually hosted by the DaVinci Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, is a five-minute quarantine film challenge that enables filmmakers to apply for the Shelter-In-Place Vitruvian Award. The festival accepts narrative, documentary, animation, and music videos that were produced during the quarantine period – as long as the production strictly complies with all state and federal mandates. The submission deadlines are open until the end of July. Find out more here.

Couch Film Festival

7 best digital film festivals and online film challenges - Couch Film Festival

While this film festival accepts submissions on a quarterly basis, there is a new "Quarantine" category to be launched this summer. Image via FilmFreeway.

Fittingly, the Couch Film Festival is an IMDb-enabled quarterly film festival based in Toronto, Ontario, that puts together a new "Quarantine" category for the upcoming shop window in summer 2020. All projects must be completed after March 1st and comply with the festival submission guidelines. The categories include narrative, experimental, documentary, and animation styles that can be submitted by mid-June. More information can be found here.

Endurance film festival

7 best digital film festivals and online film challenges - long distance film festival

This online festival accepts all genres of filmmaking and is not limited to projects that are only quarantined. Image about long distance film festival.

The Long Distance Film Festival is one of the most open iterations on our list. It is truly an online-based festival that intends to live entirely online through a global live streaming marathon of selected projects. The festival recognizes these difficult times and encourages submissions of all kinds (new, old, all genres, all styles), with the only real requirements being that they are either in English (or with English subtitles) and that your own unique ones , copyrighted works. You can find out more about the festival here.

Online Isolation Short Videos Festival

7 best digital film festivals and online film challenges - Online Isolation Short Videos Festival

This open online festival promotes the international connectivity of people who are isolated in their homes. Image via FilmFreeway.

If anything, a chance global lockout can offer is better international connectivity for those who are together in their homes. The Online Isolation Short Videos Festival is an online film festival outside of Russia. It is actually an offshoot of the Russian International Horror Film Festival. The guidelines are loose and simply call for projects to entertain people with all the necessary means for five seconds to thirty minutes during self-isolation. More information can be found here.

The 48-hour film project

Sometimes the best way to be creative is to challenge yourself with a set time frame and rules. The 48-hour film project takes the traditional film challenge to a new level. An open online weekend challenge is set for every other weekend during quarantine. The rules are simple: a collective start time on Friday evening (local time) and a limit on the amount of footage scripted, recorded, and edited at home to be submitted forty-eight hours later. More information can be found here.

Cover picture of Victoria Labadie.

For more film challenges, advice, and inspiration, see the following articles.


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