Student Academy Awards

Student Academy Awards

0 By

The 2016 Student Academy Awards competition is now open.  This year’s deadline for all films is June 1, 2016.  Follow the link below to submit a film. We are using FilmFreeway, a third party submission platform, for this year’s competition.  You will need to create a FilmFreeway account in order to apply.



The Student Academy Awards (SAA) recognizes and honors student filmmakers who demonstrate excellence in the creation of motion pictures. By awarding these outstanding achievements, the Academy strives to support and inspire emerging filmmakers and to foster growth and education in the art and science of motion pictures.


1.     Eligibility

a.     The student filmmaker must have been enrolled as a full-time student in a degree-granting program at a college or university recognized by the SAA Executive Committee as indicated by the “Student Academy Awards School Eligibility” criteria at the time the submitted film was made.

b.     Entries must have been made in a teacher-student relationship within the curricular structure of the teaching institution.

c.     Entries must be submitted to the SAA no later than one year from the date of graduation.

d.     Entries must be motion picture works that have been completed and submitted between June 2, 2015 and June 1, 2016 (Eligibility Period).

e.     Entries must be identical in content and length to the version submitted to the student’s school for final grading and may not be altered once submitted for Student Academy Award consideration. (Do not submit work in progress.)

f.      Submitted films must not contain mention of any accolades received, such as festival laurels, or awards won.

g.     Entries must be submitted online through the designated SAA submission portal on or before close of business on the last day of the above defined Eligibility Period.

h.     Advertising films, promotional films, and films made as works for hire are not eligible.

i.       Entries submitted for the Academy Awards competition (regardless of the outcome) are not eligible for entry into any subsequent SAA competition.

j.       No entry may be longer than 40 minutes including opening and closing credits.

k.     All entries submitted must be in English, subtitled in English, or dubbed in English.

2.     Entry Procedures

a.     Entry forms and films must be submitted digitally using the designated submission platform. Filmmakers should contact the Academy office if any issues prevent digital submission.

b.     Entry films must be viewable on the official designated SAA submission platform.  Submission links that take the viewer to a third party site to view the entry are not allowed.

c.     Entry forms must list the single director or person most responsible for the creative production of the submission. Shared credits will be allowed for no more than two students if the responsibility is shared. If there are any credit discrepancies or controversies, the Academy will insist that credits be settled before the submission may be considered for an award. The final determination for credits in any event will be made by the SAA Executive Committee. The Academy will not be bound by any contract or agreement relating to the sharing or giving of credit, and reserves the right to make its own determination of credit for purposes of SAA consideration.

d.     Entry forms must include an acknowledgement that Student has read and agrees to the Student Academy Awards rules. A faculty adviser from the Student’s school is required for all submissions, and the form must include the adviser’s correct name and contact information.

e.     Entries must be submitted to one (and only one) of the SAA Submission Categories. Foreign entries must be selected by the student filmmaker’s school prior to submission. Only schools that are recognized non-U.S. members of CILECT can participate in the Foreign categories and each school is allowed only one entry per category. Failure to apply in the correct category could result in disqualification. 

f.      Entries that advance to the semifinal round of judging must be provided in an approved format as defined by the “Student Academy Awards Approved Formats.”  Filmmakers will have at least one week to provide the copy to the Academy.

g.     Upon request submitted with the entry form, any hard media provided (with the exception of DVD) will be returned to the entrant within 30 days of the the conclusion of the competition.

h.     The Academy is not responsible for late, misdirected, missing, or damaged entries.

i.       Failure to adhere to the entry requirements within the Eligibility Period will result in disqualification. 

3.     Judging Procedures

a.     The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shall judge entries on the basis of resourcefulness, originality, entertainment, and production quality without regard to cost of production or subject matter. Entries shall be judged only within their respective category.

b.     All stages of judging, including Preliminary, Semifinal, and Final rounds, shall be overseen by the members of the Academy. The Academy may designate additional non-member judges as required at the sole discretion of the SAA Executive Committee.

c.     Upon submission, entries shall be verified for eligibility and category.

d.     Preliminary entries will be judged via their online digital submission.  At this stage, the Academy has the option to re-categorize the entry into a more suitable category. Filmmakers will be notified of advancement to the semifinals by July 1, 2016.  

e.     Semifinalist entries shall be judged online only. Filmmakers will be notified of advancement to the finals by August 1, 2016.

f.      Finalist entries shall be judged theatrically and online.  Final ballots will be tabulated by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers and filmmakers in each category will be notified of their final status by September 1, 2016.

g.     The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may award Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal Awards to winners in the Domestic categories and Foreign Narrative category. Additionally, Gold medals may be given to winners in the Foreign Animation and Foreign Documentary categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medal Awards include cash grants of $5000, $3000, and $2000 respectively and a trip to Los Angeles for the SAA Week.

h.     Presentation of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal Award winners in each category will be made at the Student Academy Awards Ceremony on September 22, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California.

           4.     Advertising and Publicity 

       Student Academy Award participants may only promote their status in the competition within the explicit guidelines provided by the Academy.

           5.     Miscellaneous 

a.     Student Academy Awards winning films are eligible for entry into the following year’s Academy Awards competition, provided the films satisfy all criteria for the Academy Award category for which they are entered.

b.     If the eligibility and/or category of any entry is questioned, the Academy reserves the right to make a determination as the SAA Executive Committee may deem appropriate at its discretion.

c.     The Academy reserves the right to amend or modify any procedure, process, or rule, as may be considered necessary by the SAA Executive Committee for the proper conduct of the Student Academy Awards or to adhere to any standards set forth by the Academy.

d.     The decisions of the Academy regarding any matter regarding the SAA will be final and binding in all respects.



1.     Domestic (U.S. based) accredited by one of the following agencies:

a.     Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

b.     New England Association of Schools and colleges

c.     North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

d.     Northwest Accreditation Commission on Colleges and Universities

e.     Western Association of Schools and Colleges

f.      Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

2.     Foreign Schools (Non-U.S. based) must be a member of CILECT


1.     Domestic Categories include Animation, Documentary, Narrative, and Alternative.

2.     Foreign Categories include Animation, Documentary, and Narrative.

3.     Category Descriptions

a.     ANIMATION – Animated films may present an original narrative story, an existing story or fable, or an exploration of a mood or thought.  Either comical or serious, they usually fall into one of two general fields — character animation or abstract animation.  Various techniques include cel animation, computer animation, clay animation, stop-motion, pixilation, cut-out pins, camera multiple-pass imagery, kaleidoscope effects, and drawing on the film frame itself.  Winning Animation films are chosen by judging the product as a whole, as well as the artistic and technical skill of the filmmaker in whatever motif or animation technique the student has chosen.

b.      DOCUMENTARY – Documentary films are nonfiction visual essays that seek to present historical subjects, current social or political issues, or specific human experiences in such a way as to have a dramatic impact upon the viewing audience.  Documentaries may be filmed in the cinéma vérité style where camera and microphone merely record the event without injecting the comments or subjective conclusions of the filmmaker, or may be a reenactment.  In the latter case, the distinction between dramatic and documentary film lies in the fact that while dramatic film is fictional, documentary film deals with factual situations and circumstances.  Winning films in this category are chosen on the basis of artistic technique, as well as the ability of the documentarian to fashion reality into a film essay which leaves the audience better informed and/or moved.

c.     NARRATIVE – Narrative films strive to portray life, a character or a narrative story much the same way a novel does, but within the context of an audiovisual medium.  Past narrative films by students have included, but were not limited to, dramas, comedies, musicals, and many other story oriented genres.  Winning entries in this and all other categories reflect the merit of the film when viewed as a whole, as well as the professional execution of its component parts, such as script, dialogue, direction, cinematography, lighting, acting, editing and scoring.  Narrative category films may be adaptations of existing pieces of literature or original stories written by the student filmmaker.

d.     ALTERNATIVE – Films submitted in this category must not be candidates for any other category.  Alternative films extend traditional cinematic boundaries and conventions of expression. These films employ progressive aesthetic and/or technical elements. These films convey a reinterpretation of traditional structural components such as story, imagery, words, time, space, motion, sound, light and color. These films often expand the language of cinema. This category is not meant to be a “catch all” category for films that lack structure and/or craftsmanship. The Academy strictly evaluates if films submitted in this category are appropriately Alternative. 


     Approved formats include:

a.     HD quality digital file (min. resolution of 1920×1080): Quicktime (Pro Res 422. Pro Res 4444), AVI, H.264

b.     DCP

i.         Aspect Ratio: 1.78, 1.85, 2.39

ii.         Soundtrack: 2 Channel Stereo PCM, 5.1 (6) Channel PCM

c.     Film

i.         Gauge: 16mm (optical only), 35mm

ii.        Aspect Ratio: 1.33, 1.85, 2.35

iii.      Soundtrack: Optical, Magnetic

iv.        Films with a separate magnetic sound track will not be accepted.

If you have any questions please contact Shawn Guthrie in the Student Academy Awards office at 310-247-3031 or