Submitting to Animation Festival pt1: Avoiding Rookie Mistakes - The Needy Animator

Submitting to Animation Festival pt1: Avoiding Rookie Mistakes

Animation Festivals Submissions Tips/ Tricks

As an animator, there comes a point in your career you might want to consider submitting your work to Film/Animation Festivals but where to begin? While your animation might have top-notched quality animation aesthetics and story, there are many reasons that could stop it from being chosen. Knowing about the rookie mistakes and some tidbits behind how the animated short selection process works from one of the jurors working directly behind the scenes might help you understand better how your film can have a better chance at being picked and give you an advantage over other submissions.

Today’s guest post are tips to understanding Animation Film Festival submissions adapted from an interview with our very own talented animator Allyssa Lewis at Floyd County Productions working on Emmy Nominated Best Animated Series and Critics Choice Award Winner 2014 Archer and current Vice President of ASIFA-Atlanta.



As with most things in life, research is crucial to how successful your submission might be. If you have a film you are submitting to within a category, make sure it’s under the right one. While a film can be more than one thing, try to aim for what it mostly is. A documentary or live-action with a little bouncing animated ball as an additional animation element probably wouldn’t really be considered very strong in an animation category. If it isn’t under the right category, don’t always bank that the person watching your film will help you put it under a more fitting one…they might just find it easier to nix it altogether. Which also leads us to our next point…



As different people have different taste, sometimes your animation can become a MAYBE instead of a YES if it contains controversial topics or elements. If you are adding something with nudity, adult humor, or anything you think might be offensive, you have to realize that this may hurt a chance of you getting into the festival if the niche audiences is general or includes little kids. It might be great for a raunchy 18+ adults only screening or event but if it has one too many swear words, nudity, controversial topics for a general public audience festival, it might not make the cut.  After all, festivals want their paying customers to come back, not run away screaming scarred for life.



When you submit an animation, those still images of your films they ask you to attach? Those are very important materials as a film festival’s marketing material. Your animation may be abstract and a great one to sit and watch through but before it can be screened, people have to be interested enough to come see it. If your film does not have a particularly enticing screenshot, you might want to consider creating a “power shot” or send in a separate still that is more appealing. Think of it this way: An awesome movie poster will get you in the theater even if you know that particular shot isn’t exactly what might be in the movie.



The sound quality of an animation is more important than you may realize and can make or break an animation. One of the things I personally know about animation production, especially for students, is that having a wicked animation that blows people away coupled with a badly home-made sound design that is soft and loud in places is not as uncommon as you think. While you may thing your animation will compensate for bad sound choices, you might be placing your hopes to high. An animated piece is viewed as a whole and sound is considered a part of technical requirements. Especially when a festival is bigger, the quality that is expected is at a professional level in every way. If you do not have a completely polished soundtrack at the time you are submitting your film, you might want to send in a note attached that the sound portion is incomplete or not finalized but if it get in to the festival, you will polish it. 



While you want to tell a full complete story, you might want to go over your film and see if everything is necessary or if parts of the film is too long with no necessary bits. There are some animations that can have amazing story and visuals but tend to lose its way and float around turning it from a YES to a MAYBE. Also, if an animation is way too long, it might not make the cut because of the limited screening programming time. While you can find a way to squeeze in a 3 minute MAYBE animation in a break between two animations, a 25minutes long animation might just not make the cut.


This is part 1 of Things you Should know when submitting to Animation Festival: Rookie Mistakes. Click to read Part 2 here! Hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions/ comments, you can leave it down below!


Allyssa Lewis

Allyssa Lewis

Allyssa Lewis is a power-networking animator working at Floyd County Studio on the Emmy Nominated Best Animated Series Archer baser in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been on board with ASIFA-Atlanta as Vice President for a duration of 6 years. Allyssa has recently just started her own LCC company MAL (my animation life) with a goal to provide a network for animators/ job opportunities.


  1. Submitting to Animation Festival pt2: What They Don’t Tell you | The Needy Animator - […] article is a part 2 continuation from the article Submitting to Animation Festival pt1: Avoiding Rookie Mistakes. In the…
  2. Gregory Smith - I love your blog I have read this article and enjoyed it

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