Watersprite is the UK’s largest international student film festival, and the second largest in the world. With submissions from over 105 countries, Watersprite seeks to provide a creative, vibrant, and inclusive space for the filmmakers of the next generation.

Watersprite is now looking for the world’s best short films in fiction, documentary, animation, and experimental for its 15th edition! We offer a wide array of exciting awards across several technical and genre categories, which aim to provide long-term career support, offering unique opportunities such as working with respected industry professionals and getting access to the best available equipment. Watersprite goes beyond one-off cash prizes and instead provides you with real, practical opportunities to progress your career in the creative industries.

We are planning for a hybrid festival where we will offer online access to the festival weekend including access to its events and networking. Where it is possible for nominees to attend the festival in person, we will endeavour to provide support to nominees with any bursary applications.

Watersprite will take place from 1 to 3 March 2024. We will have a diverse offering of industry events, panel discussions, Q&A's, workshops, and screenings, all of which are completely free of charge!

Our previous keynote speakers have included Academy Award and BAFTA winners, including Bill Nighy, David Yates, Olivia Coleman, Richard Curtis, Biyi Bandele, Finola Dwyer, Asif Kapadia, Eddie Redmayne, Asif Kapadia and Tamsin Greig.

If you aren't eligible to submit a film, please feel free to sign up to be an online judge and have the chance to watch the best short student films from around the world!


FICTION - Fiction films often use a narrative to convey a story. They may be a drama or a comedy, or any other narrative subgenre. They involve real people and animals, rather than animated ones.

ANIMATION - Animated films involve a narrative in which more than 75% of the running time involves character and/or abstract animation. It may involve, although is by no means limited to, cel animation, stop motion, puppetry or CGI. Photorealistic animation is also considered as animation.

DOCUMENTARY - Documentaries are non-fiction films which concern real-life events, experiences and issues. They often are told in a journalistic style and express opinions or advance views on a particular subject.

EXPERIMENTAL - Experimental films are films that break away from traditional cinematic boundaries and conventions. They employ unusual or groundbreaking aesthetic and technical elements and generally do not follow predictable narrative form. They allow for ambiguity and complexity of thought and use abstraction or lyricism in their execution. These films often expand the language of cinema

Note to entrants: This category is not meant to be a “catch-all” category for films that have unusual narratives or structure.




FILM OF THE YEAR AWARD - This is awarded to one of the four Genre Award winners.

SOCIAL IMPACT AWARD - This is awarded to a film with a clear humanitarian subject matter, which can range from the local to the global and from the social to the environmental. The film should critically engage audiences, raise awareness of an issue and allow viewers to reflect on the importance and social impact of the topic that is presented, serving either as a call for change or a way of highlighting the details of a current problem. The film can be of any genre. The 2020 prize consisted of a meeting and development package with world-leading Harry Potter director David Yates.

The Watersprite mentorship is a year-long programme, designed to pair a Watersprite filmmaker with industry professionals who can guide them at a pivotal moment in their career as they take the first steps towards establishing themselves in the screen industries. The mentorships sit alongside our awards and are designed to support the career development of underrepresented filmmakers and address inequality in the screen industries, forming part of Watersprite’s objectives to strive towards a more inclusive, diverse future of film and support emerging talent.  This year, we are offering three mentorships for filmmakers who identify as belonging to any of these groups, which includes but is not limited to:  

1. Women: including cisgender women, trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are significantly female-identified;
2. LGBTQIA+: including individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex;
3. People who have experienced racism or disadvantage on the basis of their ethnicity. This includes but is not limited to: people of African or Caribbean heritage, people of South Asian heritage, people of East Asian heritage, people of Central Asian heritage, people of West Asian heritage, people of Latin American heritage, and Roma and traveller people; 
4. People with physical or mental disabilities;
5. People from a low-income background.

Applications are also open to those who have experienced a disadvantage due to: 
6. Age;
7. Marriage or civil partnership; 
8. Pregnancy and maternity;
9. Caring responsibilities;
10. Religion or belief; 
11. Regional precedence.

1. General Information
1.1 Submissions will open on 7 July 2023.
1.2 Submissions will remain open until 23:59 GMT on 7 September 2023. We reserve the right to close the submission platform at an earlier date. We recommend submitting your film as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
1.3.Upon submission, the filmmakers agree that their films can be included in promotional activity and publicity material shared by Watersprite Film Festival and its sponsors and partners.
1.5.Watersprite has the right to distribute the details of selected filmmakers with mentors and industry professionals who may help you.
1.6 Selected films will be screened at the festival. They will also be available to watch online via our digital festival platform from 26th February - 11th March 2024, unless separately negotiated with Watersprite Film Festival.

2.1 All films must have a total running time of 23 minutes or less.
2.2 All films must either be in English, dubbed in English or subtitled in English.
2.3 No advertisements, propaganda or hate speech.
2.4 All films must have completed production no earlier than January 2022.
2.5 We will accept a maximum of two films per entrant per year, unless the individual submitting the film is an agent/film school acting on behalf of others.
2.6 Films may only be submitted to Watersprite once. We will not consider films that have been amended from previous submissions.
2.7 All entrants must be at least 16 years of age at the time of the festival. Under 18s will need parental permission to attend.
2.8 For a film to be eligible for consideration, at least two out of the following three must have been students during film production: Director, Producer, Writer.
2.9 In order for a film to be eligible for a Watersprite technical award, the person responsible for that particular technical aspect of the film must have been a student during film production.
2.10 Watersprite defines 'student' as those who are in full or part-time education at any age or those who graduated no more than one year ago. Proof of student enrolment will be required at the submissions stage.
2.11 The exception to this rule is ‘Best Performance’, for which the actor must be an amateur in a student-directed film, and must not have an agent.

3. Submission Procedure
3.1 Submissions must be made online via upload onto Watersprite’s FilmFreeway page with all the required information.
3.2 All entrants must specify the year in which their film was made.
3.3 Entrants must submit their film to the most appropriate genre category. Entrants must only select one genre.
3.4 Entrants should select all roles on the submission form where a student was responsible for that particular technical aspect of the film.
3.5 In order to be eligible for the Best Screenplay category, you must upload a copy of the film’s screenplay in English and reply ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Do you wish to be considered for the Screenplay Award?’ when you submit your film. The screenplay should be written in standard industry format and uploaded to your submission’s “Files & Attachments” section of its FilmFreeway page.
3.6 In order to be eligible for the Original Film Music category, the film’s entire score must be original work by a student.
3.7 Only the film’s main actor may be considered for the Best Performance Award. Where a film has two protagonists with equal screen time, please select which actor you wish to nominate.
3.8 After submission, entrants must provide dated photographic proof that those who were responsible for their respective technical awards were students at the time of film production. The entrant must upload this proof via the Google form which appears immediately after you have submitted your film. The link to the Google form is also emailed to the entrant in the email entitled "Checkout Success". Valid forms of student identification are: student card, a copy of a student finance bill, or a letter from the university/institution.
3.9 After submission, there is an option for entrants to apply for a Mentorship Programme. If you wish to apply, please read the Mentorship Programme section below.
3.10 After submission, entrants will be asked to fill in an equality and diversity form. This form is voluntary and is for internal use only, but we would greatly appreciate it if you could complete it. As a charity, it is helpful for us to know who our filmmakers are so that we can improve year after year. This form is anonymous and will not be taken into consideration when judging your film.
3.11 Film must be submitted in the correct format. Films which do not correspond to the required format will not be considered.
3.12 Entrants will be asked to upload a copy of the film’s poster onto the project page on FilmFreeway, if available. While not necessary during submissions, a poster will be required immediately if your film is selected for the shortlists. The festival will use this for marketing purposes.
3.13 Entries which do not comply with the Watersprite guidelines may be at risk of disqualification.

4. Judging
4.1 Upon submission, every film will be reviewed by the Watersprite Committee for eligibility.
4.2 The Watersprite Committee may re-categorise the submitted film into a more suitable Genre category.
4.3 Films will be considered according to the following criteria: excellence in executing its creative function.
4.4 Every eligible film will automatically be considered for the Watersprite Film of the Year and the Watersprite Social Impact Award.
4.5 Wherever the person responsible for a film’s particular technical aspect was a student, that person will automatically be considered for a technical award.
4.6 Some genre films cannot be considered for certain technical awards: Documentaries cannot be considered for Best Performance, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design or Best Screenplay; Animations cannot be considered for the Best Performance category.
4.7 Up to four nominees will be chosen for each award. From these nominees, one winner will be selected.
4.8 If your film is nominated, a member of your team is expected to attend the Awards Ceremony on 2nd March 2024 either online or in-person. Watersprite is a hybrid festival and will organise a suitable alternative to the Awards Ceremony and general festival for those who cannot attend in-person.
4.9 Where possible, Watersprite will participate in fundraising activities and bursary applications to cultural institutes and other grant giving bodies for support with travel and accommodation to enable nominees to attend in person.

5. Recommended Upload Format
5.1 Your video file may not exceed 10GB.
5.2 You are not required to provide a screening quality copy of your film at this stage, as films will initially be judged online. Entrants may be asked to provide a screening-quality format of their film if they are nominated.
5.3 Video
5.3.1 Codec: H.264 
(sometimes referred to as MP4). A codec is the format in which your video will be encoded. Different codecs have different features and varying quality.
5.3.2 Frame Rate: 24, 25 or 30 FPS. If you know at which frame rate you shot, it is best to encode at that same frame rate. If you are uncertain at which frame rate you shot, please set to either "Current" or 25 FPS. If there is an option for keyframes, use the same value as you used for the frame rate.
5.3.3 Data Rate: 2000 Kbps (SD), 10,000-20,000 Kbps (HD). This setting controls both the visual quality of the video and the file size. In most video editors, this is done in terms of kilobits per second (Kbps). Use 2000 Kbps for standard definition or 5000 Kbps for high definition.
5.3.4 Resolution: 720x576 (4:3 SD video), 1280x720 (HD), 1920x1080 (HD)

. If you have the option to control the pixel aspect ratio (not the display aspect ratio) make sure it is set to "1:1" or "1.00", sometimes referred to as "square pixels".
5.4 Field Order
5.4.1 If you are shooting on an older camera, enable this option. Otherwise, you may get bizarre horizontal lines appearing in your video.
5.4.2 With newer camera models this will not matter, so this option can be left unchecked. (Use progressive).
5.5 Audio
5.5.1 Codec: AAC (Advanced Audio Codec)
5.5.2 Data Rate: 256 Kbps
5.5.3 Sample rate: 44.1 kHz
5.6 Recommended free converters: MPEG Streamclip (Mac & PC), Handbrake (Mac & PC)

Overall Rating
  • Kiarash Dadgar Mohebi

    Participating in the Watersprite Film Festival has been an unforgettable experience, truly the best festival I've ever been a part of. The level of professionalism exhibited by the team is unparalleled, and their support throughout has been phenomenal. I can't praise them enough for their dedication to showcasing diverse and impactful films. Being honoured with three awards at the closing ceremony was beyond anything I could have imagined. I am deeply thankful for the recognition and know that the memories of this festival will always hold a special place in my heart.

    May 2024
  • Excellent to say the least. Quality of time and amazing networking

    April 2024
  • Thanks so much for shortlisted our documentary Echoes From The Blue Meadow.

    March 2024
  • WATERSPRITE IS THE BEST FILM FESTIVAL EVER. I was so honored to be a screenplay nominee and present Paradise Express at this brilliant festival. The festival team was so committed and welcoming, they practically made me feel like a rockstar. Every filmmaker would be lucky to take part in this festival. Perfect communication, perfect hospitality, and great sound and image quality at the film screenings. It was an experience I'll never forget. Thank you Watersprite for celebrating the future of film and bringing young filmmakers together from all over the world!

    March 2024
  • As one of the strongest student festivals with great industry judges and prizes, we always submit our student clients here! For the 2024 edition we had 2 clients screen: Broken Hearts and Harvest.

    March 2024