FAQs, Rules & Terms


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Am I eligible to submit to StudioFest? To submit to StudioFest, you must:

    1. Be 18 years or older, and

    2. Be a short film director who has not yet directed a feature film, or

    3. Be a screenwriter who has written (but has not yet had produced) a feature length script, and

    4. Be savvy in micro-budget projects and confident working within the $50K budget range for a feature film, and

    5. Turn in your application before the late submission deadline, and

    6. Be willing to travel to Ojai, CA for the festival. We expect all ten finalists to attend and participate. If you are chosen as a finalist, room and board and a $300 travel stipend are provided.

  • By submitting, am I giving up the rights to my submission piece? No. You retain all rights to your submission piece. You are simply showing us what you can do.

  • As a director, do I submit a short film or a feature film? Directors must submit a short film under 30 minutes in length.

  • As a writer, do I submit a short film script or a feature film script? Writers must submit a feature-length screenplay between 60 and 120 pages in length.

  • Do the winning writer and winning director work together on a single feature? Yes, the winners will collaborate to make their first feature film together.

  • I’m a writer and director. Do I have to pick one role for this contest? The feature film’s creation will be a collaborative process in which both the writer and the director will have significant creative input. Also, you may submit separately as a writer and as a director, though you can only be chosen as a finalist for one or the other.

  • I’ve already made a feature. Can I still submit as a director? No. We’re looking for directors who have not yet made their debut feature film.

  • I’ve already had one of my feature-length scripts produced into a feature film. Can I still submit as a writer? No. We’re looking for writers who have not yet had one of their scripts turned into a feature film. However, if you have sold a script that has not yet been produced, you are still eligible as long as it hasn’t gone into production.

  • If I win, will we be making a feature based upon the work I submitted? Potentially. Our intent is to ideate and create something brand new for the feature film. That said, we may inquire into a script sale as opposed to a commission if your script seems like a viable option to produce (or your short film seems viable to adapt). Regardless, your submission is primarily meant to showcase your abilities and demonstrate your understanding of micro-budget filmmaking.

  • Can a director and a writer submit as a team? You must each submit your own work separately, and each will be reviewed and judged individually like any other submission. Still, you may make note of your partner’s name in your submission. It is possible that we choose both of you as finalists and see you as a viable pair for the winning duo.

  • Can I submit more than once? Yes.

  • Can I submit as a director and make a separate submission as a writer? Yes, but you can only be chosen as a finalist for one or the other.

  • What if my sensibilities don’t mesh well with the other winner’s sensibilities? Filmmaking is a cooperative medium. Ability to collaborate creatively will be taken into account when choosing the winners.

  • What kinds of short films or scripts are you looking for? We’re looking for filmmakers who are capable of creating work in a timely manner and on a modest budget. That said, virtually all stories or genres are welcome.

  • My short film is a documentary. Can I still submit? Yes, but keep in mind that we’re looking for filmmakers who can create in a timely manner and on a budget. A piece that took years to produce may not be the best show of the sensibilities we are looking for.

  • My short film isn't in English. Is that a problem? No, as long as you have English subtitles. We are accepting films internationally and look forward to watching all of them, just as long as we can understand them. Scripts, on the other hand, must be in English.

  • My script isn't in English. Is that a problem? Scripts must be in English.

  • I wrote a feature film that has been purchased but not yet produced. Am I still eligible to submit? Yes, you may still submit, but you cannot submit the script that you no longer own the rights to. You may, however, submit another script that has not been purchased. Please include a note about the status of the purchased script (to the best of your knowledge) with your submission.

  • Where does my submission fee money go? Submission fees cover the operational costs of running the festival, e.g. staff, venues, catering, transportation, lodging, etc.

  • Do you actually watch/read every single submission? Yes, we really do.

  • Is the $50K a cash prize? No. It is offered exclusively as financing for the feature film we will help you make.

  • Where does the $50K come from? Jess and Charles, the festival organizers, are financing the film, supplemented by investors and partnerships they have forged. 

  • Only $50k? That’s not enough to make a feature. We disagree, and so do a number of successful filmmakers who got their start making movies for a lot less. If that budget is too constraining, then this probably isn't the festival for you.

  • How are the winners chosen? A panel of judges consisting of accomplished industry professionals are brought on to view the finalists' work and help us make a decision. 

  • Once the winners are chosen, in what capacity is StudioFest involved in the making of the film? In addition to financing, StudioFest will produce the film from pre-production straight through to distribution and marketing.

  • If I win, do I have to make my debut feature with StudioFest? We will require the winners to sign an exclusive contract allowing StudioFest to produce their debut feature film.

  • Does StudioFest have producing experience? The people behind StudioFest have many years combined experience as producers, as well as a large network of producers and other industry professionals to draw from.

  • If I win, will I be paid for my work on the feature? Yes, the winners will be paid a stipend during their time working on the film so they can be fully focused on the production. 

  • Who owns the feature? Do the winning director and winning writer own part of the film? The winners will get gross profits of the final film product in accordance with talent contribution and film valuation, starting at no less than 10%.

  • Who owns the intellectual property after the film is made? StudioFest will own the rights to the film, and the winners will be offered right of first refusal for future projects tied to the property.

  • In addition to production, does StudioFest also help with distribution? Yes.

  • What if I cannot attend the festival? We really prefer all finalists attend. We provide room and board, a travel stipend for flights, and we will work with our finalists, to the best of our ability, to ensure that they are able to attend. Even if you think you won’t be able to attend, submit anyway so we can work with you on the matter.

  • I still have questions! Is something missing from this list? Do you have a question you can’t find an answer to in our rules? Send us an email at studiofestofficial@gmail.com.

Festival Rules & Terms


The following rules govern all film submissions to StudioFest Ojai (the “Festival”)

General Eligibility

  1. Submissions must be accompanied by the applicable submission fee PER ENTRY and a completed online entry form.

  2. Short film submissions must be under 30 minutes in length. Feature-length screenplay submissions must be between 60 and 120 pages in length.

  3. All films must be in English or have English subtitles at the time submitted. All screenplays must be in English.

  4. Films must be submitted as an online streaming video via a participating submission platform (FilmFreeway) or a password-protected streaming URL.

  5. In the event of a password change or link change after submitting, you must email the Festival at studiofestofficial@gmail.com immediately with that change so we may update your record. If the Festival is not notified of the change and the link is found to be inactive or the password to be incorrect, the submission may be deemed ineligible.

  6. StudioFest Ojai screens films as digital files during the Festival and does NOT screen films on Blu-Ray, HD-CAM, or DCP. If you are unable or unwilling to provide us your film as a digital file for exhibition, DO NOT SUBMIT your film.

  7. Films must be available for screening during StudioFest Ojai, September 20 - 22, 2019.

  8. Films that have been submitted to a StudioFest Event in previous years are eligible to be resubmitted, provided they are eligible according to all of StudioFest’s current rules.

  9. Films with US distribution (obtained prior to being selected for StudioFest Ojai's screening) or films produced, financed or initiated by a major film studio or television network are ineligible for competition, but may be considered for a special screening. Selection for screening will be determined no later than one month prior to the festival. Films that have screened on US network or cable television or distributed to theaters prior to the festival dates are also ineligible for competition.

  10. Filmmakers that have directed a feature film are not eligible for competition. Screenwriters that have had a feature length screenplay of their creation produced are not eligible for competition.

  11. We prefer that short films not be publicly available online.

  12. StudioFest Ojai reserves the right in its sole discretion to reject or disqualify any ineligible entries, without a refund.

  13. Films that are selected to screen at the Festival may not necessarily be selected to be “in competition” for awards purposes. Notifications regarding potential selection for competition status may occur subsequent to notifications of acceptance for exhibition.

Awards & Prizes

  1. Five directors and five screenwriters will be flown to beautiful Ojai, California for a weekend getaway with experienced industry professionals and the StudioFest team. At the end of the weekend, one director and one screenwriter will be given the opportunity to partner with StudioFest to create the winners' debut feature film.

  2. Winning director will be offered percent gross profits of final film product in accordance to talent contribution and film valuation, starting at no less than 10%.

  3. Winning screenwriter will be offered percent gross profits of final film product in accordance to talent contribution and film valuation, starting at no less than 10%.

  4. Finalists' room and board while at StudioFest Ojai will be fully covered and travel costs will be reimbursed up to $300 USD.

Originality and Permissions; INDEMNITY

  1. Films must be the original work of the applicants. If a film is based upon another person’s life or upon a book or other underlying work, applicant(s) must secure any necessary rights to make such adaptations. However, it is not necessary to submit the adaptation rights agreements to the Festival. Neither the Festival nor its jurists investigates or attests to the authenticity of an applicant’s statement of authorship or rights secured. By entering the competition, you represent that you have secured all necessary rights.

  2. Applicants are solely responsible for obtaining all necessary rights and permissions for third-party materials included in their films, including but not limited to music, trademarks, logos, copyrights, and other intellectual property rights. StudioFest Ojai expressly disclaims all liability or responsibility for any violations of the foregoing.

Additional Information

  1. We strongly encourage filmmakers to submit their film only after it is fully finished and will judge each submission as a completed work, whether it is or not. Once a film is entered, we will not update the submission with a more recent cut. That said, because StudioFest Ojai’s focus is on story, minor technical changes will not affect the final decision of any film. Should the film be accepted to play during the Festival, the filmmaker will have the opportunity to supply the Festival with their most recent version.

  2. Once an entry payment has been received we cannot provide a refund. If a payment is disputed by an entrant for any reason, the entrant may be subject to any transaction fees or similar amounts incurred by StudioFest Ojai in connection with the dispute.

  3. You MUST include your physical address either in your entry or in your cover letter. Please do not submit a film without giving us your address, which we need for our records.

  4. Payments made with a check are subject to our Bounced Check Policy: If we receive a returned check from our bank for a payment you made, you will be invoiced for the original amount of the check plus a $25 bounced check fee. The payment of the invoiced amount will be due within 30 days of invoice date. We will not re-submit the original check, nor will we accept another check for repayment. Repayment must be made by money order or cashier’s check.

Selected Films and Winners

  1. Finalists will be compensated in the form of Room and Board during their stay at the Festival. Each finalist will be entitled to travel compensation in the value of up to $300 USD.

  2. Winners will be offered the opportunity to partner with StudioFest in the production of the winners' debut feature film. StudioFest Ojai intends to financially back the production with a micro-budget (50 thousand dollars). StudioFest additionally will seek to augment the quality of the production through partnerships and sponsorships with other filmmaking entities.

  3. StudioFest Ojai has no obligation (other than as stated in these rules or on our website) to disclose any of the following information: i) identities of screeners or judges; ii) notes, feedback, or information relating to the submitted project; and/or iii) details regarding the submission review or selection process.

  4. StudioFest Ojai explicitly disclaims any liability or responsibility for any comments, notes, or opinions expressed about a submission, whether by StudioFest Ojai or by its volunteers.

  5. Winners will be announced on August 23th, 2019. The judges’ decision is final.

  6. Winners receiving cash prizes are solely responsible for payment of all applicable local, state, and federal taxes.


DVDs and press materials will not be returned under any circumstances. Include a self-addressed, stamped postcard for each submission if you wish acknowledgment of the receipt of your entry.



I/We have read all of the rules, understand, and have complied with these rules.

I/We warrant the submission of my/our original work and that there are no disputes regarding the ownership of the submission.

I/We also warrant the submitted material does not defame or invade the rights of any person living or dead.

To the best of my/our knowledge, all the statements herein are true and correct.

I/We understand that failure to adhere to the competition rules and regulations will result in disqualification and forfeiture of entry fee.

I/We acknowledge that once an entry payment has been processed, StudioFest Ojai will not provide a refund.

No revisions of materials will be accepted once entry has been submitted.