7 Best Digital and Online Film Festivals and Film Challenges


Stuck inside? Here are seven online film festivals and challenges that filmmakers can complete from home. Try them out and maximize your creativity.

At its heart, filmmaking is the art of overcoming challenges. From logistical to pragmatic to creative, creating film requires a great deal of problem-solving and perseverance. For filmmakers who are stuck inside, or simply cut off from their usual collaborators, peers, and support channels, it might feel like creating films and video content is out of the question.

However, as we’ve covered in our roundup of some of the best “quarantine” short films to come out (so far), all it really takes is a positive attitude, a creative approach, and a resolute desire to create with limited resources.

So, as long as you have a camera (or even just a smartphone), some sort of editing device, and at least yourself as an actor, creating a short film that can be both cinematic and powerful is entirely within your reach. And, better yet, once you do put something together that you feel proud of, there are actually a ton of great online film festivals and film challenges where you can submit your project. Let’s check out seven that we recommend.

Roger Corman’s Film Festival

First on our list is an online film challenge put down by the legendary director Roger Corman. Notable for being a B-movie legend and mentor to numerous up-and-coming filmmakers like James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola (to name a few), Corman certainly has an eye for talent. His challenge, which he calls the “Corman Quarantine Film Festival,” is laid out pretty straight-forward from his Instagram, with the following rules:

  1. You have to stay home and stay safe and film the video inside your house or in the backyard.
  2. The short must be filmed on a cell phone.
  3. It must be under two minutes.

To enter, 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

7 Best Digital Film Festivals and Online Film Challenges — Quarantine Film Festival

This online film festival gives filmmakers the chance to enter weekly. Image via FilmFreeway.

Hosted by the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, the Quarantine Film Festival is an ongoing online film festival that accepts entries every Monday through Wednesday, then streams the winners on Fridays on the festival’s Facebook page. Best yet, they plan to showcase the eventual best five for an on-site big screen festival once the theater is able to open again. You can find out more info here.

COVIDaVINCI Film Festival

7 Best Digital Film Festivals and Online Film Challenges — COVIDaVINCI Film Festival

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

Put on by what is usually called the DaVinci Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, the COVIDaVINCI Film Festival is a five-minute quarantine film challenge that empowers filmmakers to submit for the “Shelter-In-Place Vitruvian Award.” The festival accepts narrative, documentary, animation, and music videos produced during the quarantine period — so long as production strictly adheres to all state and federal mandates. Submission deadlines are open until late July. You can 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 intended to showcase this summer. Image via FilmFreeway.

Fittingly titled, the Couch Film Festival is an IMDb-eligible quarterly film festival based in Toronto, Ontario, that’s put together a new “quarantine” category for its upcoming Summer 2020 showcase. All projects must have been completed after March 1st, and follow the festival’s submission guidelines. Categories include narrative, experimental, documentary, and animation styles, which can be submitted through mid-June. You can find out more info here.

Long Distance Film Festival

7 Best Digital Film Festivals and Online Film Challenges — Long Distance Film Festival

This online festival accepts all genres of filmmaking, and isn’t limited to “quarantine-only” projects. Image via Long Distance Film Festival.

One of the most open-ended iterations on our list, the Long Distance Film Festival is truly an online-based festival that intends to live entirely online via a global live-streaming marathon of selected projects. While acknowledging these trying times, the festival encourages submissions of all types (new ones, old ones, all genres, all styles) with the only real requirements being that they’re either in English (or with English subtitles), and represent your own unique, 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-ended, online festival encourages international connectivity from those isolated in their homes. Image via FilmFreeway.

If anything, one opportunity a global lockdown can produce is greater international connectivity from those collectively in their homes. The Online Isolation Short Videos Festival is an online event film festival hosted out of Russia. It’s actually an offshoot of the Russian International Horror Film Festival. The guidelines are loose and simply ask for projects to entertain people during self-isolation, with any means necessary, at any length from five seconds to thirty minutes. You can find out more info here.

The 48 Hour Film Project

Sometimes, the best way to creatively challenge yourself is to give yourself a set timeframe and rules. The 48 Hour Film Project takes the traditional on-the-run film challenge to a new level, with an open online weekend challenge set for every other weekend during quarantine. The rules are simple, with a collective Friday night start time (local time) and limiting footage scripted, shot, and edited remotely at home, to be submitted forty-eight hours later. You can find out more info here.

Cover image by Victoria Labadie.

For more film challenges, advice, and inspiration, check out some of these articles below.


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