3rd Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest

Contest Info

Winners Announced! Check the "Winners" Tab 

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

  • Be screened theatrically at 2 film festivals in a special Stage 32 Shorts Program - at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival and the Oscar-qualifying 2018 Hollyshorts 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

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.

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 are proud to open up our call for entries for the Third Annual Stage 32 Short Film Contest. Last year's contest produced entries from Stage 32 members in 42 countries and resulted in a curated program of 7 incredible and well received short films (made by filmmakers from 4 countries). The short film program has been featured to critical acclaim in Variety and Indiewire.

This year, we're excited to introduce our all-star lineup of judges:

  • Kristóf Deák - 2017 Oscar-winning director for his short film SING. 
  • Timo von Gunten - 2017 Oscar-nominated director for his short film LA FEMME ET LE TGV.
  • Chris "Doc" Wyatt - Best-known for producing the hit comedy NAPOLEON DYNAMITE which started as a short film PELUCA.
  • Theo Dumont - Co-Founder of the qualifying Hollyshorts Film Festival
  • Elliot Grove - Founder of the Raindance Film Festival
  • Keith Powell - known affectionately as "Toofer" on NBC's 30 ROCK, and as Wyatt on HBO's THE NEWSROOM, Keith is now the director and producer of the successful short digital series, KEITH BROKE HIS LEG.
  • John T. Trigonis - Film Campaign Strategist for filmmaking crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

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!

Thanks to our partner, Film Freeway!

Contest Prizes

Theatrical Screening in Special Stage 32 Short Film Program at 2 Film Festivals - US & UK

The top 5-10 films will be screened in a special Stage 32 theatrical Shorts Program Showcase at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival and the Oscar-qualifying 2018 Hollyshorts Film Festival!

Special Worldwide Online Screening

The top 5-10 Short Films will be screened online to a worldwide audience on Stage 32 in a special global event! 

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. If there is interest we will facilitate the meetings between interested parties and the filmmakers. 

Grand Prize Winning Director Will Be Flown to LA for Screening

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. 

How’s that for access and exposure?


2017 Winner, Lisanne Sartor SIX LETTER WORD

Our Track Record

Our Grand Prize winner this year is THE LETTERS, made by Terez Koncz from London, England.

Please congratulate all the winners!
BURNING BRIGHT Aaron Bierman Santa Monica, CA
GENESIS Abtin Mozafari Gorgān, Iran
MAN EATER Zara Burdett London, England
MONDAY Dinh Thai Los Angeles, CA
SAC DE MERDE Greg Chwerchak New York, NY
THE LETTERS (WINNER) Terez Koncz London, England
TWO WORLDS Andy Lefton Minneapolis, MN


Congratulations to the Finalists for the 2018 Short Film Contest! 

AMARA Erica Ortiz
BODIES OF WATER David Lykes Keenan
BRUCE Irhad Mutic
DRONE Cédric Spozio
ECHOES OF YOU Henry Quilici
FAERY Louise Middleton-Rosinsky
GENESIS Abtin Mozafari
HEIMLICH Lisanne Sartor
LILY + MARA Caroline Roberts
MANEATER Zara Burdett
MONDAY Dinh Thai
NEXT DOOR Brett Salamin
REPRESSIVE FIRE Emmanuel Matsamura Jr
RESONANCE Lennyn Garcia
SAC DE MERDE Greg Chwerchak
SARA Fabio Patrassi
SONG SOTTO VOCE Pierre Bessette
SUNLIT Gerry Melendez
THE SON, THE FATHER.... Lukas Hassel
TWO WORLDS Andy Lefton
WHAT IF Antonio Jefferson


Winner Announcements

February 16, 2018: Finalists announced

March 16, 2018: Winners announced


Update on Last Year's Winner, Lisanne Sartor (Six Letter Word)

Lisanne Sartor, writer & director of Six Letter Word, has taken her short as a proof of concept and finished her feature script. Through Stage 32, her film, Six Letter Word, screened at the 2017 Richmond Film Festival and the 2017 Hollyshorts Film Festival and in front of Lionsgate, Samaco Films, Whitewater Films, Kodak, Legion M and CAA. She is now directing the feature version of this film and are out to actresses to package the project! 


Update on Our 2015 Winner, Director Matt Kazman (Killer)

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.



The 2016 Stage 32 Short Film Program Winners:

Six Letter Word - Lisanne Sartor (USA)

Dryad - Thomas Vernay Cumulus (France)

Eliza - Mikko Lopponen (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)


*dates subject to change

Contest Judges

Kristoff Deak (Judge)

Kristoff Deak (Judge) - 2017 Academy Award Winning Director, SING,

Kristóf Deák is a Hungarian film director, screenwriter, film producer and editor who is best known for his work on Sing, which earned him critical appraisal and recognition including the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 89th Academy Awards in 2017.

Kristof is based between London and his native Budapest, Hungary. Kristof is represented by The Gotham Group and is currently filming his next film Best Game Ever. 

His fascination with rhythm has always defined the way he looked at film.
Growing up on a diet of impeccably timed cartoons and slapstick (Charlie Chaplin back to back with Tom & Jerry) and later as a musician in a band, this affection slowly developed into an obsession.

He believes pacing and timing are the most important tools in a director's hands. Only perfect timing will evoke real emotions - and that all comes down to actors and director. Working as an editor taught him how to craft and fine tune the minute details of comic and dramatic timing, and to respect the inner pulse of shots.

Music remains a muse of his, and sound design is an important ingredient in all his work. Another source of inspiration is the people he gets to work with. True creative collaboration is "dreaming in pairs" - it enables the happy accidents that make magic.

Timo Von Guten (Judge)

Timo Von Guten (Judge) - 2017 Academy Award Nominated Director, LA FEMME ET LE TGV,

Timo von Gunten is a Swiss director, writer and producer. Best known for his work on La Femme et le TGV as director, which earned him critical appraisal and recognition including a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 89th Academy Awards in 2017. Timo is now set to direct “Eiffel,” an action/heist film that chronicles the exploits of international con man Victor Lustig.

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.


Chris "Doc" Wyatt (Judge) - Producer, Writer (Napoleon Dynamite, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heros),

Chris "Doc" Wyatt is an indie film producer, and TV animation writer/producer, as well as a children's author.

In TV animation, Wyatt has written for several Marvel superhero shows, including: "Iron Man: Armored Adventures", "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes", "Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man", and "Marvel's Avengers Assemble". He's also written for the new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (Nickelodeon), "Transformers: Rescue Bots" (The Hub), and "The Octonauts" (Disney Jr), among others. Wyatt served as co-producer on the animated "Napoleon Dynamite" TV series (Fox).

In independent film, Wyatt is best-known for producing the hit comedy "Napoleon Dynamite" (Fox Searchlight - 2004) which started as a short film "Peluca", the festival favorite "Coyote" (Maya Releasing - 2007), and the multi award-winning drama "The Citizen" (Monterey Media - 2012), as well as five other feature films.

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.

Theo Dumont (Judge)

Theo Dumont (Judge) - Co-Founder, Hollyshorts Film Festival,

Theo Dumont is a well-rounded marketing and PR executive with a deep knowledge and understanding of the entertainment industry.
Dumont is the co-founder and co-director of the HollyShorts Film Festival, the largest short film festival in Hollywood devoted to advancing the careers of independent filmmakers through networking events and screenings. For the past 8 years, HollyShorts Film Festival has featured participation from the top filmmakers and artists in the world including: James Caan, Paul Haggis, David Lynch, Josh Brolin, Jessica Biel, David Arquette, Jane Lynch, Jimmy Jean- Louis, Jason Biggs, John Dahl, Darren Lew, Malcolm Barrett, Demi Moore, Kirsten Dunst, Scott Porter, Joel David Moore, Carter Smith, Zachary Quinto, Joe Carnahan and many more and the tradition continues with this incarnation of the most anticipated short film event of the year.

Dumont is also the President of Dumont Marketing LLC, an independent strategic communications and public relations consultancy serving organizations and individuals in the entertainment arena.

Dumont Marketing’s PR client base includes production companies, filmmakers, authors, independent films, and digital entertainment companies. Prior to finding Dumont Marketing, Dumont was with Miller PR for 3 years where he worked on strategy and counsel for the agency’s premiere clients including the Gersh Agency, Stan Lee, Leslie Grief’s Thinkfactory Media, Oscar nominee Lucy Walker, and Women in Film. Before joining Miller, Dumont was Director of Corporate Communications at MGM Studios, where he executed PR initiatives for various divisions of the company including United Artists, MGM HD, MGM Consumer Products, MGM Worldwide Digital Media, MGM Theatrical Distribution, MGM Worldwide TV Distribution, MGM Networks, and MGM Home Entertainment.

Dumont is the publicist for the China Hollywood Co-Production Society, a gathering point to serve the growing mutual interest in creative and business opportunities between Hollywood and China, he also serves on the LA Advisory board of Peace First, a national non-profit organization.

Elliot Grove

Elliot Grove - Producer & Founder of Raindance, Raindance

Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007.

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe. Japan and America.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008), RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2004) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009).

Open University awarded Elliot and Honourary Doctorate for services to film education in 2009.

Winner Announcements

* Announcement dates subject to change.
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