The Milwaukee Independent Film Society was founded in 1996 by Dan Wilson. Its mission and goals were to provide a grass roots community where local filmmakers can share their ideas, projects, and collaborate on local efforts.

MIFS is a non-profit organization who leadership has changes, but missions remains the same. The Milwaukee Short Film Festival is our signature event, since its inception in 1994 we've steadily built our reputation as one of the best regional festivals in America.

We were signaled out in 2006 by Moviemaker Magazine as "Best Local Festival" with a strong slate of award winning International films, and the best in local filmmaking.

Each year we do our best to get industry professionals from Los Angeles and the Milwaukee area to jury the films. Previous judges were Mark Metcalf (Animal House, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Zack Ward (A Christmas Story, Transformers), Uwe Boll (Postal, House of the Dead) Timothy J. Lonsdale (Speed, Species) Adam Kelly (Brit Geek on Ain't it Cool News) George Tillman JR (Soul Food, Faster) and David Streit (Jurassic Park III, River's Edge) .

Best of Fest Award
This category is a competition.
Sponsor: Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Honorable Mention (2nd Place)
This prize is shared with other categories.
Sponsor: Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Best Wisconsin Film
Sponsor: Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Best Director
Sponsor:Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Best Actor
Sponsor:Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Best Ensemble
Sponsor:Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Best Script
Sponsor:Milwaukee Short Film Festival

Due to the vast amount of waiver requests we're asked for we are limiting the waiver period. Waivers will only be granted from March 15th 2025 to May 1st 2025. Please do not ask us for a waiver before that time period, we won't even look at the film until the specified dates.  

This competition is for emerging filmmakers, student filmmakers and independent filmmakers.

For Wisconsin Spotlight. This category is only for filmmakers who presently reside in the state of Wisconsin, if you don't currently live in Wisconsin, you must enter your film through the US & International option. This category is for filmmakers currently living in the state of Wisconsin only.

Your film will be disqualified is you don't follow our rules and terms.

Narrative, documentary, experimental or animated films or videos up to 15 minutes in length.

All entries in a language other than English must be subtitled or dubbed in English unless dialogue is inessential to comprehension and appreciation.

We don't take:
Web series
Demo reels
Video or new media games
Film with prior commercial release
Industrial and instructional films
Films over 15 minutes
Films streaming publicly
Films screened in Milwaukee seven months prior to the fest.

Entries that premiered in Milwaukee before our event may be considered to run out of competition at the total discretion of MSFF.

Your film must also have the rights and permission to use any copyrighted work presented in your work.

A downloadable digital file (H .264) or as an online screener. Exhibition formats accepted are only data digital files (H. 264).

For questions on other video festival screening formats, please contact the MSFF.

Filmmakers can submit up to three entries. Each entry must include a separate entry and fee. Entries previously submitted to the Milwaukee Short Film Festival cannot be re-submitted. Entrants are responsible for securing all necessary rights / permissions for festival exhibition of each work submitted and all accompanying materials.

Clips from accepted films may also be used by the MSFF for festival promotion, festival program and possible televised broadcast. While the festival will take precautions to handle your film and publicity materials responsibly, the festival, its committee and staff cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage to any materials entered. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless Milwaukee Short Film Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Also, once submitted and considered we have the right to show the film, and the film maker agrees in advance to this.

Approximately 1st -July-2025 is FilmFreeway's date that they will send out notifications.
We could email you in May and up to June 30th.

The filmmaker must send their film 10 days after notified, and no later than July 1st. If the filmmaker fails to send their work on time, we will not program it. Also, we build program blocks, the file you send before July 1st will be the file that we use, please don't ask us at after that date, or weeks before the event to swap out files.

Shorts: maximum 15 minutes

Projects completed after 01-Jan-2024

Projects may originate from anywhere in the world

No premiere requirement, but premieres are preferred and will get special consideration. If your film has played before an audience in a screening or prior festival we could pass on it.

-Entry fee
-Film synopsis, principal cast list, and brief filmmaker bio
-Press kit
-Local Wisconsin filmmakers must supply an address to verify. We do check. Without one your film may be dis-qualified.

A press kit is required with the entry form, including:
> Film Poster meeting social media standards
> High Rez Production Still Photos meeting social media standards - Digital
> High Rez Photo of the Director - Digital
> Biography/Filmography - Director
> Statement by the Director
> Press Clippings (Optional)
> Website info - Digital
> Social media links (Tick Tock, Instagram, Facebook, Threads)
> Trailer - Digital

If there isn't at least a synopsis, director's headshot and bio we could pass on your film.

Entrants are invited to submit promotional materials with initial submission. After notification of acceptance into the festival, filmmakers are encouraged to provide one still each of the director and a scene from the film at 800 dpi JPEG files, for publicity. All publicity materials should be labeled with the name of the filmmaker and of the film.

Entries are eligible to be selected for programming and exhibition at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival. We also reserve the right to show the film after it is accepted into the festival, and if notified before a competing local festival accepts your film. We also reserve the right to pull a film out of our line up if the filmmaker doesn't bring forth deliverables in a timely manner.

Overall Rating
  • Debra Zarne

    Fantastic festival! By far the most proactive festival in promoting filmmakers and their work. They created a blog page for each film, a trailer for each film, offered zoom interviews for every filmmaker who wished to have one, had networking events, and took place at an amazing historic theater in Milwaukee. I love this festival! So happy that my film Wedlocked was included in this festival.

    September 2023
  • Rosa SanMarchi

    Fun local festival at a great venue. Good communication with the organizers.

    January 2023
  • Stilvi Psilopoulou

    Great festival and great people!

    October 2022
  • Sam Sorenson

    This is a GREAT Festival in a beautiful venue! Well-organized, a great variety of films, in a packed house. Some of the films were truly incredible. We will be back again and again! Ross and his team put on a great show. We were thrilled to be among the selections, and inspired by our fellow filmmakers.

    September 2022
  • Kay Barnes

    This festival staff had really great communication with everything happening with the festival. The partner hotel was really authentic and unique in the best ways. Also, the online awards show presentation was cool.

    April 2022