The goal of Southern Shorts Awards (SSA) is to recognize filmmakers whose short films demonstrate their ability to produce well crafted motion pictures.


Southern Shorts Awards is a seasonal competition for short films (under 30 minutes) in which each entry is judged on its’ own merits. Every film will be screened by three judges using a 10 point scale and you will receive the scores of all three judges whether you win an award or not.

At the end of each season, we screen the top three films of each genre scoring 75 or higher. These are one-day festivals held at the Aurora Cineplex in Roswell, Georgia.

Films are shown in genre blocks with a Q&A at the end of each film (whose filmmakers attend) and the evening ends with a spectacular Awards Presentation.

There are no limits on when or where a film was produced, we accept films from all over the world no matter how old.


Your composite score will show where you excelled, as well as the areas in which you could do better. This is vitally important information because how can you improve if you don't know what needs improving? SSA offers a level playing ground for filmmakers to have their work judged by a panel of industry professionals.

Most festivals only offer two categories for short films, narrative or documentary. SSA has 15 categories, so your film can be judged within its' specific genre.

Southern Shorts Awards may also serve as a first-entry test for filmmakers who intend to enter their film into multiple festivals. Receiving an award from SSA does not guarantee that a another festival will accept your entry, but those films which do not receive any award from us may be less likely to find success in the festival circuit.

• All films are scored and may receive an award for the film, and/or individual awards for the cast and/or crew. Receiving an individual award does NOT mean we will screen your film. Only the TOP 3 award-winning films of each genre are nominated for the festival and awards competition, so we only screen those films, however we may show other films which have scored 80 or higher at our discretion.

• As a one-day festival, we have limited time to screen our award-winning films. The minimum score for screening eligibility is now 75, although all films are shown at our discretion based on available time.

• Laurels are only awarded to those films which are shown at the festival.

Awards of Merit are given to shorts which show basic filmmaking competence, Awards of Excellence are given to films which exhibit higher levels of creativity and ability, Awards of Distinction are given to films of professional quality, and the Orson Award is given to those rare films which show true genius.

Southern Shorts Awards is also unique in that we score individual achievements at no additional cost. All major cast and crew members are graded on the same 10 point scale by each judge, and it is possible for an individual to receive an award even if the film doesn’t.

All award winners will receive a PDF of their Award Certificate. Optionally, they may order a printed Award Certificate for $20, a wall plaque for $50, or a trophy for $100. Every entry will be judged and receive a copy of their composite judges scoring sheet and judges comments whether they win an award or not.

There are two levels of awards:

1. Scoring Awards are PDF Certificates which are included with the filmmaker's scoresheet and judges comments on the scoring notification day. These are non-competitive and are based on the scores of three judges who screen and score each film, as well as cast and crew individual achievements. Films must receive a minimum averaged score of 70 to receive an award and individuals must receive a minimum averaged score of 7.
PLEASE NOTE: You will not receive laurels with these awards and are not authorized to use our laurels unless we have sent them to you and these individual achievement awards are not eligible for IMDb listing unless your film screens at the festival.

2. Festival Awards are competitive and are based on the judges scores. The top 3 award-winning films of each genre are then nominated as the best of that genre. This means your film must score at least 70 out of 100 points to be nominated. For example, in the Drama genre, the highest scoring film wins Best Drama of that season, the second highest wins Best Drama Award of Excellence, and the third the Best Drama Award of Merit. Every film screened at the festival will receive and is authorized to use our laurels as provided, without modification.

3. Laurels will ONLY be granted to those films which are actually screened at each festival. Even then, you must use the laurels as supplied without making your own modifications. You may only use laurels if we have supplied them to you, however, you may post your scoring award certificates freely.

All festival awards are given out at the Awards Presentation at the end of the screenings. This is a black-tie optional event with a host who will show shorts clips from each nominee, then open the envelope and announce the winners. The entire event is recorded and available on our website the following week and each filmmaker present is provided with the specific clip of their acceptance speech.

We also give Best Of Show trophies for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematographer, Best Editor, Best Sound Design and Best Soundtrack.


STUDENT CATEGORY CHANGE! The Student Category is now available ONLY to those 21 or younger. If you enter incorrectly you will be disqualified and refunded so that you can enter through one of the other categories.

MADE IN GEORGIA RULE - The Producer and/or Director of films selected for screening in this category are REQUIRED to attend the festival - this is MANDATORY.

PLEASE NOTE: We accept films from all over the world, we are called the Southern Shorts Awards because we are based in Georgia.

Films must be less than 30 minutes in length to enter this festival.

Preferred: An H264 or MP4 file compressed from the original 1080p or 720P master.
Minimum Acceptable: An H264 or MP4 file at 480i. Do not rip from a DVD unless you have no other option.
• We prefer that you upload directly to FilmFreeway without a password.
• We prefer Vimeo over YouTube as a hosting platform.
• Do NOT enable ads on your film or it will be immediately disqualified without refund.
• Do NOT put logo bugs or any other overlays on the film.
• Do NOT start your film with a countdown slate, they are no longer used.
• Do NOT start your film with a screen showing awards/laurels from previous festivals. This is pretentious and a waste of our judges time.
• Try to keep end credits to 60 seconds or less. (All film festivals hate long end credits BTW, so it's best to make a separate version for festivals.)
• We do NOT accept pornographic, or hate films or films with specific religious or political agendas.
• Commercials, PSA's, trailers, experimental films and other other type of film not categorized here can only be entered in the Review Only category.
• Laurels are ONLY awarded to those films which are shown at the festival.
• All films are scored and may receive an award for the film and/or cast or crew.
• We ONLY screen the top 3 award-winning films in each genre and films scoring 75 or higher. So your film may receive an award yet NOT be accepted for the festival.

PLEASE NOTE: Films must be produced by those under 21. This category is not for filmmakers with professional experience. We reserve the right to reclassify any entry into the Student category. If rejected, you will be refunded and must re-enter under the proper genre at the non-Student entry fee.

In order to accommodate those films which do not fit into our stated genres, we offer the option of choosing the REVIEW ONLY category. These films will be scored, receive judges comments and can earn awards, but they will NOT be eligible for festival participation. We reserve the right to move films incorrectly submitted into the Review Only category at our discretion.

• We do not grant fee waivers.
• We do not grant waivers to Iranian films as they may enter here: http://cineport.ir/en/Festivals/SouthernShorts.
• All films must earn the privilege of being screened at our festival. We do not choose or 'curate' our films, they are selected by score alone. In addition to scoring as one of the top three in their genre, all films must score a minimum of 75 to be included in the festival. Films scoring 80 or higher may be shown even if they are not in the top three of their genre. This will be dependent on the time available for programming. Top three films scoring 70-74 will be considered for screening at the discretion of the festival director.
• We do not pay screening fees.


1. This is a seasonal short film competition with the running time limited to 30 minutes, including titles and credits. Entries with a run time longer than 30 minutes will be disqualified.

2. Non-English speaking films must be sub-titled to be accepted. Subtitles must be readable! It is the filmmaker's responsibility to ensure that the subtitles on their films are legible. They may look fine on your final edit, but once you have uploaded them to a site such as Vimeo, their recompression may cause them to become indistinct, especially against light backgrounds. Our preference is to use a font such as Helvetica in white with a black outline to make sure that it can be seen on any background.
Also, all credits MUST be in ENGLISH in order for award certificates to have the winners' name. Otherwise we will just list the category. For example, if we can't tell who was the editor because the credits aren't in English, the award will just be for editing and will not list the editor's name.

3. All works must be submitted digitally online directly to FilmFreeway. Do NOT use Dropbox, We Transfer or any similar file-sharing service.

4. We have no ‘completion by’ deadlines. We will accept any short film regardless of when it was produced.

5. Works in progress will NOT be accepted for submission.

6. Make sure you are submitting the final version as you cannot change the link to your film once it's been submitted.

7. Films may be resubmitted in future competitions IF they have been re-edited. Resubmissions are not discounted as they go through the same judging process.

8. We do not accept pornographic, propaganda or hate films, films with specific political agendas or those promoting or proselytizing any religious beliefs.

9. Titles & Credits: Every festival has to to consider screening time when selecting films and ALL of them hate long titles and/or credits. it is in your best interest to keep your opening titles to 30 seconds and your end credits to under a minute. No one wants to watch 4 minutes of creeping credits, you can show that version to cast and crew, but your festival screener should keep it short.

Terms & Conditions

I. Southern Shorts Awards is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted for promotional purposes.

II. Southern Shorts Awards is hereby granted the right to share your contact information in specific instances when someone inquires about your production and is trying to make contact with you.

III. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to submit the film for consideration, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

IV. By entering your film for consideration to the Southern Shorts Awards Film Festival, you authorize that your work is cleared for festival exhibition and accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. The submitter and all filmmakers associated with the project shall indemnify and hold harmless the Southern Shorts Awards Film Festival and any representative or affiliates 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.

V. Entrants who were not granted awards will be notified by email, which will also include their score sheet. Results may be delayed, dependent upon the volume of entries.

VI. Southern Shorts Awards winners will be emailed their scoresheet, along with a PDF of their Award Certificate(s) and their laurels. Printed certificates, plaques and trophies must be purchased.

DISCLAIMER: The viability of holding a festival screening will be determined by the number of paid entries in each season. We require a minimum number of entries to offset the costs incurred in holding a screening event. If we do not reach the required minimum, we reserve the right to combine that season with the next available season. All entrants will still receive their scoresheet and Judges Comments on the notification date, however the competition will be combined with the next available season.

Overall Rating
  • Deanna Ableser

    Great festival! Awesome people! Loved it! Thanks for all the support you gave Black Coffee!!!

    August 2020
  • Adam Weber

    Just a wonderful festival run by great people championing all things independent film-related. My short film "The Body" was fortunate enough to receive 12 awards over the course of the festival. We just want to say thank you so very much!

    August 2020
  • Nora Mariana

    Sincerely one of the best festival experiences we've ever, ever had. This is a festival by filmmakers for filmmakers. Stephen is phenomenal and put together an impeccably organized festival and awards show, even in the middle of this pandemic. They take the time to really watch and review your film and examine each aspect of the filmmaking process. I would submit again to this festival in a heartbeat. It was an honor and such a pleasure to have ALINA take part in Southern Shorts Awards.

    August 2020
  • Great feedback, detailed analysis, fantastic communication from Stephen and and a very well organised virtual festival with a wonderful selection of top quality films. My only complaint was that I had the misfortune of submitting during a time when a live event wasn't possible, as I'm sure it would have been a blast.

    August 2020
  • Great festival! Excellent communication and the awards show was very fun! Recommended for all indie film makers.

    August 2020