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My Top Five Film Festivals To Submit To

After doing the film festival circuit a few times with my award winning short films, I tend to get asked often which film festivals I’d recommend submitting to, so I thought it’d be great to share what I think are the best film festivals for indie filmmakers. So, I’m going to cover my top five film festivals to submit to.


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First up and ranking in at number 5 is the Dragon Con Independent Film Festival. What? Did you say Dragon Con? Yep! Sure did! The Dragon Con Independent Film Festival is a film festival that takes place during Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

Plus by getting accepted into the festival, you’re given an all access pass to Dragon Con so you can check out all of the nerdy fun. I found that since other filmmakers were like me and had never been before, we tended to stick together and exploring the con made for a great bonding experience.

Number four is once again another con festival and it’s Gen Con Film Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana. You might be surprised to find that I have two con film festivals on my list, but honestly both were some of the funnest times I’ve had at a film festivals so far! Plus, despite what you might think, their films aren’t all fan films, but rather really impressive films of all genres.

Gen Con Film Festival offers great networking opportunities both at the festival and virtually. Ever since 2020, the festival has taken a hybrid approach doing both in person filmmaker panels and screens as well as virtual. All virtual filmmaker panels are then posted online to their social media accounts and virtual screenings of films are offered on the Fantasy Network’s website during the festival.

Next up is number 3, Salute Your Shorts Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. Now I want to preface this one by saying I haven’t actually ever been to this festival, however I have been to one of their networking events. This festival is pretty well known in LA by filmmakers as being a great film festival and it’s run by women which is a huge plus in my book.

Coming in at number 2 is the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in Dubuque, Iowa. What? Iowa? Yes, Iowa. Now once again I have to preface that I physically haven’t been to this film festival, but in 2021 when my short film Joining Call got accepted into the festival actresses Natalie Lynch and Tara Jane went to the festival on our behalf and even collected an honorable mention award for us to boot!

This film festival is really focused on making the experience as great for filmmakers as possible with networking parties and filmmaker lounges with free food and drinks. They also offer free travel and accommodations for the top three nominated films for best documentary, best narrative feature, and best short, which is super rare guys! Sometimes film festivals will offer travel and accommodations for features but I’d never seen it for shorts before.

And finally, number 1 is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, or SBIFF. This festival gives amazing networking opportunities through lots of exclusive parties and filmmaker lounges. If selected into the festival you get all access filmmaker passes that grant you entry to all of the film festival events and screenings, and let me tell you, the events are amazing.

They offer filmmaker panels with top tier filmmakers and actors. One of my favorites is the Women Filmmakers Panel. And on top of that, they also do award ceremonies again with top tier filmmakers and actors such as Micheal B Jordan, Melissa McCarthy, Adam McKay, and Spike Lee just to name a few.

Plus by being accepted into this festival you’ll have the notoriety of being accepted into what’s considered one of the top festivals in the US, all while getting to visit Santa Barbara!

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