DC Shorts Survival Guide: How to Get the Most Out of Washington’s Best Film Festival

Angelika Theater – photo by Sami S

For ten years, the DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition has screened the world’s top short films to audiences throughout the region. From September 19-29, the festival will screen 153 films from 23 nations in venues from the E Street Cinema downtown to the Angelika in Falls Church.

What makes this event special is that it is locally-produced by film-lovers like you. The films have been carefully selected by volunteer judges. It’s a place where you can see Oscar-nominated shorts and the debuts of first-time directors. Filmmakers value the festival to such an extent that 120 of them are showing up for it.

I’ve been a part of DC Shorts for years. I’ve judged films, managed the screenplay competition, been a “master blogger” and photographed parties for the festival. I’ve been behind the scenes at VIP parties and rowdy midnight screenings. And I’m going to tell you how to get the most out of the largest short film event on the East Coast.

Find the Right Films
Use the film sorter to find comedies, dramas, documentaries or anything else you’re interested in. Some listings even include video previews.  Also check out the blog for interviews with filmmakers and other information to help you make up your mind.

Get the All-Access Pass
Want it all? Then get the All-Access Pass. At $100, it’s a bargain. You get entry to all the screenings and parties you want plus a swag bag full of goodies. The All-Access Pass also allows you the opportunity to schmooze with filmmakers at a VIP party.

line for VIPs and filmmakers
Line for VIPs and filmmakers

Go (Early) to the Parties
DC Shorts throws two great parties. The CityView Party takes place on September 20, 9-11 PM, and features an open bar of Stella Artois and gorgeous rooftop views of the city. The Grand Bash on September 21 is at the Navy Memorial and offers a chance to drink more Stella and enjoy a spread from Whole Foods.  These aren’t parties to show up fashionably late. Go early and enjoy yourself.

CityView Party

Find a Photographer
At these parties, look for event photographers. It’s a chance to get a professional photo of you and your friends in front of the DC Shorts backdrop to remember the occasion. All photos are posted to the DC Shorts Flickr page.

Talk to a Filmmaker
Look for people with badges around their necks – they’re either a VIP or filmmaker. Ask them about their film. They’d be glad to talk about it and you’ll learn something about the creative process.

Filmmakers (note the blue VIP badge) at the Grand Bash.

Learn Filmmaking at a Free Seminar
How do you make a film, anyway? How do you get into a festival like DC Shorts? Indulge your cinematic dreams with a free seminar.  Make a film and you could be at DC Shorts next year.

Pick the Winning Screenplay
DC Shorts also has a screenplay contest. Attend the reading of the finalists and decide who gets $2000.

Peter Kimball (center) and the cast of Shenanigans
Peter Kimball (center), winner of the 2012 DC Shorts Screenplay Competition, and the cast of Shenanigans

Watch DC Shorts Online from Anywhere
Not in DC? No problem. Attend the festival virtually with the DC Shorts Online Film Festival.

Stay in Touch with DC Shorts
Learn about free film screenings, drive-in movies and other fun events by staying in touch with DC Shorts year-round. Get connected through their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Volunteers at DC Shorts. Photo by Sami S.

DC Shorts is a great opportunity to see unique films, meet creative people and party in downtown DC. Don’t miss it.

And if you have questions, let me know! I’d be glad to answer them. Look for me at DC Shorts!

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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