Southern Shorts Film Festival

Southern Shorts Film Festival has been making themselves a staple in the Atlanta Film Community. A quarterly festival Southern Shorts commits itself to the film makers. Providing not only feedback on every film submitted as well as a score sheet from each judge.  

Southern Shorts provides the most impressive breakdown of why they created this festival. 

"Southern Shorts Awards is a seasonal competition in which each entry is judged on its’ own merits. Every film will be screened by three judges using a 10 point scale and you will receive the scores of all three judges whether you win an award or not. 

Your composite score will show where you excelled, as well as the areas which could be better. We feel that this is vitally important information because how can you improve if you don't know what needs improving? 

Southern Shorts Awards offers a level playing ground for filmmakers to have their work judged by a panel of three industry professionals. Scoring is based on nine criteria: Originality, Screenplay, Direction, Casting, Cinematography, Audio, Editing, Music, and Production Design.

Awards of Merit are given to shorts which prove basic filmmaking competence, Awards of Excellence are given to films which exhibit higher levels of creativity and ability, Awards of Distincon  are given to films of professional quality, and the Orson Award is given to those rare films which show true genius.

Another goal of Southern Shorts Awards is to raise the quality of short films by offering a professional benchmark. SSA is a first-entry test for filmmakers who intend to enter their short film into festivals. Receiving an award from SSA does not guarantee that a festival will accept your entry, but those films which do not receive any award from us may be less likely to find success in the festival circuit. 

SSA is also unique in that we score individual achievements at no additional cost. All major cast and crew members are graded on the same 10 point scale by each judge, and it is possible for an individual to receive an award even if the film doesn’t."

When asked this is what Stephen P Sherwood, Founder of Southern Shorts Festival had to say about why he created this festival. 

"I started this film festival out of frustration from dealing with other festivals because there was almost never any feedback provided or there was an additional charge to receive it. I run a workshop to help screen-writers refine their scripts. Filmmakers need the same kind of critique, which is why we send everyone their scoresheet. Improvement requires assessment."
Stephen P. Sherwood - SSA Festival Director

You can take a look at the prior awards ceremony below. 

Summer 2016

Fall 2016

Hosted by Levi Burdick at the Aurora Cineplex

You can keep up to to date with the festival at their Film Freeway Page or their website, Southern Shorts Awards.

Georgia Film Critics Award Boyhood Best Film and Best Director

The Georgia Film Critics (which I'm a member of) announced its 4th annual award winners and Richard Linklater's Boyhood walked way with top honors, taking Best Film and Best Director. It's not unexepcted. Twelve years in the making, and following a strong debut at Sundcance 2014, Boyhood generated much press and conversation all year-long, translating that into a $43 million worldwide gross.  

Additional GFCA winners included Best Actor for Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Best Actress for Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Life Itself for Best Documentary and The Lego Movie for Best Animated Film. Having an outstanding year, most notably playing Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay's Selma, the Breakthrough Award went to David Oyelowo. Featuring in Intestellar, Selma and A Most Violent Year alone, not many actors can boast a more impressive year than Oyelowo had in 2014. Full list of GFCA winners below.

Best Picture

Best Director
Boyhood - Richard Linklater

Best Actor
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Supporting Actress
Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Best Original Screenplay
Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy

Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

Best Cinematography
Birdman - Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock 

Best Original Score
Interstellar - Hans Zimmer

Best Original Song
Glory - John Stephens, Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith (Selma)

Best Ensemble
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Foreign Film

Breakthrough Award
David Oyelowo (Default, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, Nightingale, Selma)

Best Animated Film
The LEGO Movie

Best Documentary
Life Itself

Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema

CNN Goes Behind the Scenes of Viral Video (and Atlanta shot) Too Many Cooks

The internet went a wee bit crazy when Adult Swim's Too Many Cooks went viral. Packed wall to wall with Atlanta actors, I'd try to explain what Too Many Cooks is, but it's difficult to distill this 80's parody on LSD without being on LSD. If you haven't seen it, watch all 11 minutes. I repeat. Watch. All. Eleven. Minutes. Then go behind the scenes with CNN.

Read More

Be a Freelance Artist and an Entrepreneur: You're Never Too Young to Make it Your Business

While this article might seem like common sense for seasoned folks that are entrepreneurs, or who know how to navigate the working world, we tend to forget about those just starting out. 

After working five years in the web and graphics industry, I rejoined the education world to pursue my MFA in Animation. This gave me the chance to reconnect with students, many fresh out of high school. In our conversations, they excitedly tell me about their unpaid internships and freelance gigs paying $2 an hour. I cringe. It takes me back to my own memories, jumping at chances to “improve my portfolio" and to "get exposure”. 

Coming from Thailand, a developing country where artists are treated as labor and not experts in their fields, I made it my mission to one day go back to improve the industry there. Yet, here I am in a developed country, where the nation’s youth face a similar situation.

Being a mentor to young artists, here are a few things I tell them they should know to make it in the business. 


More than anything, knowing the law is self-protection. In the web design industry, I made it a priority to buy and read up on the basics of Intellectual Property, and laws regulating the Internet. 

If you are commissioned to produce a film or piece of animation, do you know who owns the copyright? It's against the law to reuse images from the Internet unless they are Public Domain, licensed under Creative Commons or you received permission to do so. 

If someone uses your own work without your permission, you have the right to send them a cease and desist infringement letter. This isn’t always effective of course. Some countries don’t really abide by the law, but it is self-protection to a degree. Know your rights.


Before you begin any freelance work, internship, or contracted job, it is important to have a contract. Without a getting it in writing, not only is there no proof of agreement of what compensation you are to receive for your work, the client may change the scope of the work or move around their deadlines, and it becomes a slippery slope as you regret taking on the job in the first place. 

In the contract, it should state what type of work and output is expected, the projects timeline, how many changes will implement, and the expected pay. 

If you are not confident about drawing up your own contract or don't have a lawyer, it’s easy to find a decent template online, or books with one. Unless you are willing to risk not getting paid, or being overworked, it is always safer to have a contract, even if it is a small sum you are getting.


It can be daunting jumping from unpaid schoolwork to being compensated for your work. Many students are afraid to ask for what they are worth because they are afraid clients will find someone cheaper. In their eagerness, they accept whatever is offered. 

This may be the case if your skills are not has strong as they could be yet, and you are still learning. If this is so, weigh out if you are gaining something from the loss of your time. If you are learning a skill you can’t learn on your own, or the client offers a unique incentive, it may be worth being paid less starting out. 

However, if you have created a solid sample of web designs and have solid skills, don’t be afraid to charge.

If in doubt of how much to charge, I highly recommend gettting the latest version of the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It contains a slew of freelance to full time pricing for illustrators, animators, game designers, and much, much more.

A lot of clients use the potential for exposure to lure you in. Using your best judgment, think about it from the client’s side. Are they really saying you will get attention for your work to benefit you, or are they trying to get you to work for free or cheap? 


As much as it is about your work, it is also about you as the artist. Apply the logic of condominium development. You might think this is an odd example, the similarity of selling your art and pushing for upfront funding is transferable. 

When a condominium project is in development, 3D mockups are created before the real deal is built, and agents push to sell condos before they even exist. It’s all about building up trust, a reputation, and strong marketing. Your work may speak for itself in terms of what people think it’s worth, yet ultimately you have more control creating your own brand and your value as an artist than you believe.

A lot of these tips only scratch surface of what it is to be an entrepreneural artist, and these are the baby steps towards becoming one. Better to start sooner than later. Pericles said this about politics: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you".  You may not be interested in freelancing, that doesn't mean freelancing won't take an interest in you. Being knowledgeable is power and protection.


Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 9.58.50 PM.png

This article was written by Marisa (Ginger) Tontaveetong from Bangkok, Thailand who also runs a blog called the Needy Animator's Guide to more than your Usual Resources focused on the different aspects of animation including networking, festival tips, and more. With over 8+ years experience in the computer graphics and web design field and a B.Tech in computer graphics & multimedia, she is currently pursuing her MFA in Animation at SCAD-Atlanta. She has also interned at Floyd County as a production/illustration intern on Archer and with is currently working at the Atlanta Film Festival  as the programming intern.

Are Facebook Groups Helping the Film Community or Just Encouraging Non-Stop Promotion?

Social media makes marketing and promotions viable for filmmakers at a level and cost that are unprecedented. Yet, all this pimping out of services and films can't be healthy for our overall film community...If we're only using Facebook Groups as glorified Craigslists, we're not tapping into even 1 percent of the potential social media unlocks.

Read More

Film Comparables, You're Doing it All Wrong - The Six Pieces of Information That Should and Shouldn't Be in Your Business Plan

Having accurate film comps is invaluable to creating a business plan that is realistic, instill confidence in investors, and empower filmmakers at every stage of negotiation. It can also be the prod that will push a production towards self-distribution or gamble on going the more traditional route. 

Read More