2nd Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest

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Grand Prize Winner & Winners Announced!

The 2nd Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest

We are proud to open up our call for entries for the Second Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest. Last year's inaugural contest produced entries from Stage 32 members in 29 countries and resulted in a curated program of 6 incredible and well received short films (made by filmmakers from 4 countries). The Stage 32 Short Film Program screened theatrically at the 2015 Raindance Film Festival to critical acclaim from Variety and Indiewire. The program also screened to the Stage 32 community and was exposed to over 500 working industry executives who had the opportunity to connect with any of the winning filmmakers.

This year, we're expanding our scope even further by securing 2 more film festivals (so far) to screen our winners films theatrically and by adding Oscar-winning judges!

We plan to add even more perks, but for starters, the top 5-10 winning short films will:

  • Be screened theatrically in a special Stage 32 Shorts Program at two Film Festivals - the 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival and the 2017 Richmond International Film Festival.
  • Be screened online to a worldwide audience on Stage 32 in a special global event!
  • Be showcased to over 500 executives who work with Stage 32!
  • Grand prize winning director will be flown to Los Angeles for his or her film's screening, plus participate in a live Q&A with Stage 32 Founder & CEO Rich "RB" Botto (or yours truly, as it were).



2016 Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner, Matt Kazman

Why Short Films?

Given the remarkable advances in technology and accessibility of resources, it has never been easier to make a film. In this DIY, control your own material world, legions of filmmakers are turning to short films to have their voices heard. Further, with more and more film festivals adding short programs into their lineups and with so many filmmakers shooting short films as proof of concept to showcase their talents, short films are finally getting the attention they deserve.

We hear all the time from many of the 500+ executives we work with here at Stage 32 that short films have become a huge part of their recruitment model when searching for new talent or ideas which can be stretched to feature length. Over the last couple of years, we’ve polled thousands of filmmakers who are members of the Stage 32 community and asked them what they most need to move the needle on their careers. Of course, the first answer was money! But the second answer was access/exposure/distribution. This, we can help with.

We have brought in the highest caliber of judges for this year's 2nd Annual Short Film Contest, including 2 Oscar-winning short film producers. Your film will have the ultimate access and exposure.

Who Can Enter?

(To read more click the RULES tab at the top)

This contest not only offers the chance to have your work exposed to industry executives, but to have your film as part of a program at two film festivals! All short films in all genres are welcome. All films must be a minimum of 3 minutes and a maximum of 20 minutes to qualify for entry.

Submissions & Prizes.

(To read more click the PRIZES tab at the top)


2015 Stage 32 Short Film Program Screening


From now until September 28, the Stage 32 Short Film Contest will be accepting short film submissions which will be judged by industry talent. Films reaching the final round will be judged by industry executives and producers (list below) who have all been involved in successful short films. But wait, it gets better.

The top 5-10 films will be screened in a special Stage 32 theatrical Shorts Program Showcase at the 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival and 2017 Richmond International Film Festival! The films will also be showcased in a special global online screening exclusively on Stage32.com (at the filmmaker's discretion). We will be inviting all of the executives (managers, agents, producers, directors of development, etc) we work with to view the films during this special global online premiere (the executives will also have private access to watch the films as many times as they like) and will facilitate meetings between interested parties and the filmmakers. How’s that for access and exposure?

Oh, and we'll be flying the Grand Prize winning director to Los Angeles to be at the theatrical premiere of his or her film.

Our all-star lineup of judges.

(To read more about the judges, click the JUDGES tab at the top)

  • Shan Christopher Ogilvie (Producer), is responsible for producing the 2016 Oscar Award Winning short film STUTTERER.

  • Serena Armitage (Producer), is responsible for producing the 2016 Oscar Award Winning short film STUTTERER. 

  • Keith Powell (Director, Producer, Writer and Actor), known affectionately as "Toofer" on NBC's 30 Rock, Keith and as Wyatt on HBO's The Newsroom, Keith is now the director and producer of the short digital series, KEITH BROKE HIS LEG. 

  • Ken Kokin (Director, Producer), known for his directing work on THE USUAL SUSPECTS, THE WAY OF THE GUN, CAPTAIN ABU RAED, BLOOD MOON, and his producing work on TOMS SHOES: FOR TOMORROW, THE FIRST STEP OF THE REVOLUTION, MOTDECAI and FORBIDDEN KISS.
  • Jason Mirch (Producer), is a feature film and television producer and executive. Jason formerly worked in development for ImageNation Abu Dhabi where he developed a special short film program called Arab Film Studio, while he was working on films such as THE HELP, BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL and FLIGHT.

  • Ross Putman (Producer), is an independent producer who has worked on 2 short films prior to having his recent film THE GIRL I LOVED premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
  • John T. Trigonis (Filmmaker), is the Film Campaign Strategist for filmmaking crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

  • Matt Kazman (Director), is the winner of the 2015 Stage 32 Short Film Contest, who's winning film, KILLER, went on to screen at the Raindance Film Festival, Hollyshorts Film Festival and at the Sundance Film Festival. Matt is now a working director for MTV.

Update on Last Year's Winner, Director Matt Kazman

Stage 32 member Matt Kazman's film, KILLER, premiered worldwide in the Stage 32 Short Film Program at the Raindance Film Festival where Matt was featured in Variety. Through Stage 32 Matt went on to meet with The Weinstein Company and with the producer of Short Term 12. Matt's film KILLER went on to screen as an official selection at Sundance Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, IFFBoston, Florida Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. Matt has gone on to work on Middle of The Night Show for MTV. Matt will be one of the judges for the final round of entries for the 2016 Stage 32 Short Film Contest.

Stage 32 founder & CEO, RB, with winner, Matt Kazman at the 2015 Raindance Film Festival screening

After being featured in Variety after his screening at Raindance, Matt's film KILLER went on to screen at Sundance and Matt is now directing Middle of The Night Show for MTV


The Stage 32 Short Film Contest gives you the opportunity to show your chops and shine by providing access to some of the top executives in the business and exposure to film festival and worldwide online crowds. We wish all who enter the best of luck!

To find out more, click the RULES, JUDGES, PRIZES and WINNERS tabs above.

Contest Prizes

Winner Announcements

November 23: Finalists announced

December 14: Winners announced



Theatrical Screening at Special Stage 32 Short Film Program: The top 5-10 Short Films (depending on the time limits of the festival program) will be screened to a theatrical audience at the 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival and 2017 Richmond Film Festival.

Special Global Online Screening: The top 5-10 Short Films will be screened online to a worldwide audience on Stage 32 in a special global event! (This is at the filmmaker's discretion.)

Exposure to over 500 Stage 32 Executives: The top 5-10 Short Films will be placed in a special private section on Stage 32 and sent to over 500 Stage 32 executives who will be able to view the films. Our executives will also receive information about the filmmakers and each project.

Grand Prize Winning Director: The grand prize winning Director will be flown to Los Angeles, CA for the Hollyshorts Film Festival and Stage 32 will host a Q&A with the Director after the film.


Announcement dates subject to change.

Contest Deadlines

72 Hours Only - Super Saver Deadline

Thursday, Jun 9 - 11:59 PM PDT

Submission fee: $39.00

Early Bird Deadline

Wednesday, Jul 20 - 11:59 PM PDT

Submission fee: $49.00

Regular Deadline

Wednesday, Aug 24 - 11:59 PM PDT

Submission fee: $59.00

Final Deadline

Wednesday, Sep 28 - 11:59 PM PDT

Submission fee: $69.00

Contest Judges

Serena Armitage (Judge)

Serena Armitage (Judge) - Producer (STUTTERER, 2016 Oscar Winner), Bare Golly Films

Serena is the producer of the 2016 Oscar-winning short film STUTTERER. Armitage has been in television production for nearly a decade. She spent three years editing trailers for ITV, and is now an experienced Producer and Director of programmes for ITV, BBC and Channel 4 including Come Dine With Me, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories and the BAFTA nominated Paul O’Grady: For The Love of Dogs. She’s drawn to powerful stories and great characters – whatever the genre.

Shan Christopher Ogilvie (Judge)

Shan Christopher Ogilvie (Judge) - Producer (STUTTERER, 2016 Oscar Winner), Bare Golly Films

Shan produced the 2016 Oscar-winning short film, STUTTERER. Shan’s life can be divided into stages – before and after Stalker. After picking his jaw up off the floor his course was set – he studied film at University of Westminster, has made over 15 shorts in a variety of roles, filmed concerts and live events, and now directs brand videos for the likes of Vodafone, Citibank and O2. Prior to STUTTERER, he shot a documentary for Channel 5 on the Moors Murderer Ian Brady, and founded Bare Golly Films with the intention of bringing to life simple, compelling stories, that get to the heart of the shared human experience.

Keith Powell (Judge)

Keith Powell (Judge) - Director, Producer, Writer and Actor (30 ROCK, THE NEWSROOM, KEITH BROKE HIS LEG),

Keith Powell was a series regular on NBC’s Emmy-winning sitcom 30 Rock for seven seasons, where he received the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Award for Comedy Ensemble.

He has had recurring roles on About A Boy and The Newsroom as well as appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the ABC pilot Judy's Got A Gun, Reno 911!, and NCIS: Los Angeles.

Feature films include The Way We Weren't, Syrup, and Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian as well as extensive work in the theater as both an actor and director.

In addition, he is the writer/producer/director of the animated pilot Nate & Abe (starring Rachel Dratch, David Wain, Alyssa Milano, and Robert Ben Garant), writer/director/star of the short film People We Meet (co-starring Frederick Weller and Scott Adsit), and recently produced/co-wrote/starred in the feature film My Name Is David (co-starring Judy Reyes and Adepero Oduye).

Keith recently wrote, directed and produced a semi-autobiographical comedy short web show about his self discovery when he is suddenly stripped of his ability to be mobile. The show features Keith’s off-kilter brand of wit, coupled with some genuinely thoughtful moments. Contemplating race, sex, friendship, marriage, and stereotypes, Keith Broke His Leg is "Louie" with a Los Angeles sensibility; "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with humanity, and “Inside Amy Schumer” with a black dude.

Kenneth Kokin (Judge)

Kenneth Kokin (Judge) - Producer & Director (USUAL SUSPECTS, BLOOD MOON, MODTDECAI),

Kenneth has over 2 decades of experience as a director, executive, consultant and producer in the motion picture and technology industry.

The feature films he has produced have been recognized with over 50 awards from international and domestic festivals. His works include THE USUAL SUSPECTS (also Second Unit director), which won two Academy Awards. He has produced studio features, independent features, digital features, documentaries, reality TV and international features (i.e., Chinese & Jordanian). As a producer, Kokin oversees and/or negotiates development, funding, budgets, rights deals, talent deals, production, post production, distribution and marketing. He has packaged and secured funding for features in every scenario, including negative pickups, studio (cash-flow) and independently funded. Kokin has proven himself as the man who can take mere hints of ideas and propel them into scripts and/or feature films, often by working with such A-list writers as Peter Buchman and Eric Aronson. Kokin is always tracking new digital technologies in motion photography and distribution.

As a Los Angeles native and a two time Sundance winner, it seems that Kokin knows everyone in the LA entertainment community: publicists, casting directors, managers, agents, writers, top stars, directors, and producers-- and if he doesn’t know someone, he’s usually just one person removed. Kokin’s notable taste is varied, as evidenced by his producer credits; his productions range from comedy, such as MORDECAI (Johnny Depp), to action, such as THE WAY OF THE GUN (Benicio Del Toro, Ryan Phillippe, James Caan, Juliette Lewis), directed by Academy Award winner Christopher McQuarrie (Dir. JACK REACHER and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5). His achievements were recognized by Fade In magazine, which listed him as one of “The Top 100 People in Hollywood.”

Kokin, recently made his directorial debut with BLOOD MOON - a chilling, contemporary tragedy that tells a tale of innocence lost and of the lengths one will go for revenge. BLOOD MOON was written by Oscar nominated Nicholas Kazan and stars his daughter, Maya Kazan, Frank Medrano (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) and James Callis (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY). BLOOD MOON has been met with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response within the industry and is currently currently in distribution negotiations.

Presently, Kokin is serving as a script and story consultant for projects ranging from short films to features as well as writing his next original screenplay and developing television content.

John T. Trigonis (Judge)

John T. Trigonis (Judge) - Film Campaign Strategist & Short Film Filmmaker, Indiegogo

A veteran short film filmmaker and behind-the-scenes consulting machine, John T. Trigonis has mentored hundreds of filmmakers and other content creators worldwide to create compelling crowdfunding experiences that not only reach, but exceed their goals. A writer, indie storymaker, and successful crowdfunder himself, Trigonis has literally written and rewritten the book on Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, and after spending a few years as a private consultant, he puts his prowess to its ultimate use as Indiegogo’s Head Film/Creative Campaign Strategist.

Jason Mirch (Judge)

Jason Mirch (Judge) - Producer (CONTAGION, FLIGHT, BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL), Destructo Productions

Jason Mirch is a feature film and television producer and consultant based in Los Angeles, California. Most recently, Mirch founded Destructo Productions and is currently producing a feature film based on the New York Times best selling memoir Odd Man Out by Matt McCarthy.

Previously, Mirch was the head of feature and television development and production at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a finance and production company based in The United Arab Emirates. There, Mirch was directly involved in developing Image Nation’s 5-year strategic plan with the CEO, Michael Garin and he developed a special short film program called Arab Film Studio.

Mirch worked closely with producers, Ashok Amritraj (Hyde Park Entertainment), Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (Parkes+MacDonald), as well as Jonathan King (Participant Media), in the development, financing and production of a slate of international motion pictures, while supervising the content division for Image Nation International. There, he supervised the Image Nation contributions in the development of Flight, The Help, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Contagion, Life of Crime, Ghost Rider 2, Midnight Sun, and 100 Foot Journey, among others.

Locally, Mirch supervised a team of executives to manage a slate of over 20 feature film and television projects in active development.

Prior to his work at Image Nation, Mirch was Co-Head of Development at Zadan/Meron Productions (Chicago, Footloose, The Bucket List) where he was actively involved in the development and sale of television series and mini-series to CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, and Lifetime. He was also developed a slate of feature film projects for New Line, Paramount, Summit Ent., and CBS/Paramount.

Mirch has worked with partners based in the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and India. He has sold programming to the OSN Network, the largest satellite provider in the MENA region, as well as MBC, the largest network in the region. Additionally, Mirch has worked with Gulf Film and Empire, two of the largest theatrical distribution companies in the MENA region.

Mirch has worked with firms based in New York, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines to develop, produce, and distribute international content.

Mirch has also consulted a number of international firms on the Middle East market, advising companies such as the BBC, Creative Artists Agency, and Burberry.

Ross Putman (Judge)

Ross Putman (Judge) - Producer (FIRST GIRL I LOVED, 2016 Sundance), PSH Collective

Ross Putman is the producer of First Girl I Loved, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The co-founder of LA-based production company PSH Collective, Ross also produced the 2014 LA Film Festival winner The Young Kieslowski. He co-produced the Netflix/Fox Digital series Bad Samaritans, and has sold the feature Eskimo Sisters to Awesomeness Films, with Danny Leiner directing. Prior to his producing career, Ross was a literary manager at Ineffable Pictures.

Matt Kazman (Judge)

Matt Kazman (Judge) - Director,

Matt Kazman was the winner of the 2015 Short Film Contest and his film, KILLER, premiered worldwide in the Stage 32 Short Film Program at the Raindance Film Festival where Matt was featured in Variety. Through Stage 32 Matt went on to meet with The Weinstein Company and with the producer of Short Term 12. Matt's film KILLER went on to screen as an official selection at Sundance Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, IFFBoston, Florida Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival. Matt is now directing Middle of The Night Show for MTV.

Matt is a filmmaker from Toronto who lives, works and occasionally sleeps in Brooklyn.

He has written and directed videos for MTV, CollegeHumor, Vox Media, and Refinery 29. His short film “FLAGPOLE” was nominated for a Student Academy Award and featured on Short of the Week. His independent television pilot “LOVE’S A BITCH” screened at the New York Television Festival and was developed into a web-series for Bedrocket Media.

He recently directed a show for MTV called “MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT SHOW" and his short film "KILLER" recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival and many others. He's currently prepping a feature. He apologizes in advance if he bugs you about any of this on Facebook.


Daniel Sol - Short Film Judge

Daniel Sol - Short Film Judge - Co-Director, Co-Founder, Hollyshort Film Festival

With a passion for film and filmmaking since childhood, Daniel decided to move to California in 2000 with an interest in the film business. After working on commercial productions as a production assistant for Tony Kaye Films and then acting in various films, he gained an understanding of the filmmaking process. After graduating at Cal State Northridge in 2006, he realized that young filmmakers had very little access to industry professionals, and few options for screening their films. And thus, the HollyShorts Film Festival was born. Now in its 12th year, HollyShorts has quickly become the most influential short film festival in Los Angeles, with Daniel guiding it as Festival Director and lead programmer for the festival and the HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series, which takes place each month at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. Aside from HollyShorts, Sol also battled daily with domestic exhibitors as a theatrical sales executive at Lionsgate from 2008-2014. Mr. Sol is also the co founder of the premium Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV content channel BITPIX (www.bitpixtv.com). He married Puah Benzicron May 29th 2016.

Contest Rules

Entrant Rules

Void where prohibited by law.

Adults only can enter.

Entrant agrees to Stage32.com terms and conditions.

Stage 32 Short Film Contest is not a game of chance. All material is watched and reviewed by industry professionals.

All finalists and winners are subjectively determined by our judges.

Entrant's short film must not have received compensation totaling over $25,000 USD for options, television, motion picture or digital streaming.

There is no limit to the number of short films an Entrant can enter. The same short film cannot be submitted multiple times under different names. If so, you will be disqualified.

Entrant must not be an immediate family member or friend of any of the judges or their respective companies.

Entry fees will not be returned or adjusted.


Short Film Rules

Short film total running time must be a minimum of 3 minutes and no longer than 20 minutes. Any submissions shorter or longer than the minimum or maximum length will be disqualified.

The short film must be made within the last 3 calendar years.

All short films must be in digital format. No DVDs, VHS tapes or any physical format will be accepted.

Short films can be in any language, but if not in English, they must contain English subtitles.

All genres are welcome to enter.

Short film must be the original work of the Entrant and may not be based whole or in part on any fictional or non-fictional material, published or unpublished, produced or unproduced for which the Entrant does not have rights.

The rights to the Entrant’s short film should not have been previously optioned or sold.

After a short film is entered, no new submissions or corrected videos can be made by the Entrant. No exceptions.


How Do I Submit My Short Film?

1. Make sure your short film digital file is ready before you check out.

2. Click on the "Register Now" area on the Contest page and follow the checkout process for the contest.

3. AFTER you complete the payment you will be prompted to upload your short film directly to the contest by the green button

4. Submit the digital file of your film by either pasting a link (red button) or uploading your file (black button)

  • Put the TITLE of your film in the comment section.
  • If your film is password protected, put the password in the comments section.
  • Your film upload is in a secure location not accessible to the public.


How Do I Know if I Submitted My Short Film Correctly?

You will receive an order confirmation on the submission page that says "Your film has been successfully submitted!"



Contest Winners

The 2nd Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest Grand Prize Winner:

SIX LETTER WORD by Lisanne Sartor

The 2nd Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winners:

Film Filmmaker Country
DRYAD Thomas Vernay Cumulus FRANCE
ELIZA Mikko Löppönen Helsinki, Finland
MONSTERS Steve Desmond Los Angeles, CA
MUST ESCAPE Vadym Shapran Kiev, Ukraine
SISTERS Taylor Shortall Los Angeles, CA
THE LIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON David Steiner Paris, France


The 2015 Stage 32 Short Film Program Winners:

Ark Greg Jonkajtys (San Francisco, CA, USA)

This Modern Man is Beat - David J Schroeder (Miami, FL USA)

Low FiAlejandro Montoya (Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)

The Voice In The HeadCyrus Trafford (London, UK)

Anxious Oswald GreeneMarshall Axani (Vancouver, Canada)

Killer – WINNER - Matt Kazman (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

Below are screenshots only of each film, the entire curated program played on Stage32.com for 1 day only. If you are an executive, manager or producer who is interested in viewing the films for consideration please send a direct message to Managing Director, Amanda Toney. Check back for next years winners after the contest is over. 


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