How to Get Your Short Film Nominated for an Oscar

By Tiara Ogabang

Keeping your eyes on the prize

There are few awards more coveted in the film industry than that of the Academy award, better known as the Oscar.

Filmmakers of all stripes and nationalities are constantly keeping an eye towards the Oscars, and consider winning one the pinnacle of what it means to be a filmmaker.

Since its earliest days, the Academy has created a series of categories that apply to short films.

War commercial implications of winning an Oscar for your short film are fairly limited, the boost a filmmaker can receive from receiving an award of this caliber can do amazing things for a career .

Because of the general lack of visibility of short films (both within the industry and outside of it), we created this guide to help give you short film creators out there an idea of how you might go about getting your short film nominated for an Oscar.

Promotion is key

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As the adage off and goes, people can't vote for something they don't know exists.

Perhaps the first step for you as a filmmaker (if you're shooting for an Oscar that is) is to make sure that potential Academy voters know that your film exists.

Obviously, the step after that is getting these academy voters to actually vote for your short film.

But in order to keep things simple, let's examine each of these steps independently and see how you might go about ensuring that you're covering your bases for both.

Doing the groundwork

Step 1. Enter the festival circuit

Perhaps the most fundamental prerequisite of getting your short film nominated for an Oscar is to get your film accepted into film festivals

Keep in mind that the festivals that take on your film don't need to be the biggest and baddest around. Sometimes smaller, more intimate film festivals can be just fine for laying the initial groundwork required to generate a buzz for your short film.

Depending on the nature of your film and the genre it falls in, certain festivals may make more sense to apply for than others.

We suggest you do some research about perspective film festival so may be interested in showing your phone. There tends to be no better way to get an initial fervor around your film than this.

Better even still is getting your film excepted into one festival is getting excepted into a number of different festivals.

Though the film industry tends to be tight-knit, getting excepted to a multitude of film festivals is likely to help ensure that your film is seeing firsthand by a number of different communities within the industry.

As you'll see, this initial boost of legitimacy you get from showing your film at a film festival is very important to make larger strides towards an actual Oscar nomination later in your film's lifecycle.

Step 2. Make sure people can find you


While filmmakers can be amazing storytellers who use sight and sound as their canvas, something a lot of them are less experienced with is search engine optimization.

Basically, being search engine optimized means that it's easy for people to find you online when they go to search for you on Google or another search engine.

You might not think that this is terribly important or relevant to getting your short film nominated for an Oscar, but the reality is that it's very important.

By getting excepted into film festivals, a natural buzz will start to accrue around your short film if it indeed has any shot at being nominated for an Oscar.

You want to be able to capitalize on this organic buzz by making sure anyone who wants to find you or your film online and read about it can do so easily.

Imagine a scenario in which a bunch of titillated viewers begins to sing your short films praises after the film festival they saw it at is over.

Perhaps someone who saw your film is explaining to their friend over coffee over how amazing your film was. Imagine now that the friend goes to search for your film on Google.

Perhaps they are expecting to see an IMDb profile, a website, or an interview in an entertainment blog. This way they can learn more about who you are and where you came from with such an awesome short film.

If someone is unable to find any relevant information about your film (for example, because your name is relatively common or the title of your film is common), they may lose interest and forget about your short film altogether.

A lack of online visibility and reputation is a great way to fumble whatever word-of-mouth promotion is naturally unfolding around you.

Appealing to the Academy


So let's say you've gotten this far: people are talking about your film, they like it, and anyone who is searching for you online is able to find a plethora of information about who you are and why your short film is so awesome.

The second step to getting a short film nominated for an Oscar is getting the attention of academy voters that can actually get your film nominated.

Get any attention of people within the Academy tends to require a more narrowly focused promotional strategy – after all, they are constantly bombarded by filmmakers who are similarly interested in getting them to pay attention to their work.

Los Angeles is the bullseye

The reality is that the vast majority of people who can actually do the nominating you're short film requires you to target industry-folk residing in Los Angeles.

This means that you're going to need to promote your film in a way that gets the attention of these special LA residents.

Things like renting out billboard space, advertising on local radio, and other LA-focused promotion are going to go along way to persuading prospective academy members.

The Oscars are important, but not like they used to be

Our final point today is that, while getting or short film nominated for an Oscar is an amazing feat that is likely to result in increased opportunities to build a career as a filmmaker, the Academy doesn't really hold as much authority as it used to.

The generally decentralized nature of media online these days is such that you can have a very successful career as a filmmaker or video creator without ever being on the Academy's radar.

If you're having difficulties getting the Oscar not that you're looking for, don't be discouraged, as there are plenty of hyper-successful filmmakers who haven't been nominated themselves.

So work hard and keep improving your craft, and you are likely to experience magnificent results (Oscar or not!)