28 March
Photo by Lisanto 李奕良 on Unsplash

PRIZE REVIEW: Very Short Film Festival 2022

This month, Arts Law reviewed the terms and conditions of the Very Short Film Festival (VSFF). Arts Law reached out to Artology, the organiser of the festival, to make this competition’s terms and conditions even more artist friendly. We were delighted that the organisers of the Festival took on board some of our suggestions.

The deadline for this competition is 11:59 p.m. Monday 25th April 2022

What is the rating? 

Arts Law has awarded the competition 4 stars out of 5. Read on to find out more detail. 

How artist-friendly is this competition?  

This competition is artist friendly. It asks for a reasonable copyright licence from winners in exchange for prizes and promotion, and commits to respecting their moral rights. Arts Law has awarded the competition 4 stars out of 5.  

How do the copyright terms stack up?  

Copyright is a bundle of rights that protect literary, artistic, musical and dramatic works (as well as films and sound recordings). These rights allow the owner of copyright to control the ways that a work is used. If you want to learn more, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Copyright here

Regarding copyright, this competition has fair terms for artists.  

  • The agreement is between the entrant and Artology, the Promoter of the VSFF.  
  • The entrant grants a license to Artology to allow them to reasonably use the film in their deliberation, screening, and publicity, and the entrant retains all other rights in their film.  
  • This is a non-exclusive right, meaning that entrants are free to use their film for their own uses as well.  
  • Entrants must check a box on the submission form (giving consent) to grant Artology this licence.  
  • The VSFF website currently shows the films of 2021’s shortlisted entrants, including the 3 winners in each category. Each film is accompanied by a short “meet the filmmaker” video.  
  • The term (duration) of the licence entrants give is unknown, and entrants are strongly encouraged to enquire with Artology as to how long they are allowed to use your film for promotional materials on social media. For example, as this is a relatively new competition, we do not know whether the 2021 films will be used after the 2022 finalists have been chosen. As the licence is not limited by any time period, we assume that the licence duration is unlimited in time, for the limited purposes stated above.  
  • Entrants who are not winners may request to have their rights reverted to them in writing.  
  • Entrants must be aware that Artology accepts no responsibility for lost, incorrectly submitted, or damaged entries, and accepts no liability for losses incurred in connection with the VSFF (to the extent limited by law). 

Does the competition respect moral rights?  

Creators have moral rights when their work is used (i) to attribution, (ii) against false attribution, and (iii) to integrity, which means not having their work treated in a derogatory way. For more information, you can read Arts Law’s Information Sheet on Moral Rights here.   

We are happy to see an acknowledgement of moral rights.  

  • Artology will not change any entrant’s film when screening it live or online without the entrant’s authorisation 
  • Any screening will be accompanied by the relevant credits to the entrant. 

Other issues 

Artology also reserves the right to change the running of the Festival, including due to any technical issues, allowing them to invalidate affected entries. 

What could the Very Short Film Festival have done better? 

Arts Law would like to have seen the organisers of the VSFF take on further suggestions including that they update the terms to reflect the duration of the licence that the entrants give and also provide details about the allocation of prize money. There is also limited detail about the mentorship program that will be offered to winners. Ideally, it would have been better practice for Artology to only require a copyright licence from the finalists and winners, rather than all entrants. We suggest that entrants reach out to the event organisers to discuss these concerns.   

Overall, the terms of the competition balance towards being more artist-friendly than not, and Arts Law is pleased that the organisers took some of our suggestions on board to achieve a higher rating.  

You can lodge a query with us here if you would like to obtain advice from Arts Law about this competition.  

What is the Very Short Film Festival about?  

The competition is run by Artology and Spring Bay Mill, and supported by The Guardian Australia. This competition’s website states that this is a new annual National competition for short films. Each film must reference the annual ‘signature’ theme, and otherwise the filmmaker has complete creative freedom. This year’s signature is “SPRING”. The website states that the Festival is seeking “masterful, creative and impactful original storytelling”.  

Entries are open to all Australian residents. Entries are open to entrants under 21 years old in the Junior category, and 22 and over in the Open category. Eligibility for each category is assessed by the time of entry. Entrants can be anyone from Australia, and low-budget projects are encouraged to enter.  

Entries can be any 2-5 minute-long film in English or with English subtitles. All entries must be original, created within 2 years of the closing date (25th April 2022), and must not be previously screened or broadcast online. All entries must incorporate the signature theme “SPRING”.  

Films can be created on any device and must be submitted 16:9 as MP4, with the file name including the film title and the entrant’s name. Entrants must ensure that they have cleared permission to use any third party copyright in their film (for example, music, animations, scripts etc).. The Festival has the right to screen the film at the Premiere at the Spring Bay Mill, online on the VSFF website, and via its social media platforms. The VSFF may also promote the film(s) on social media using information the entrant provides in their application.  

There will be a 2-hour workshop event where entrants can discuss their entry with the VSFF team, at a date to be confirmed. Entrants are encouraged to enquire with the Festival for updates on this.   

10 finalist’s films will be chosen to show at the Premiere and online, from which 6 prize winners will be chosen. The shortlist of the 10 finalists will be announced on Friday 6th May 2022. Of the 2 categories (Junior and Open), 3 selected films will receive cash prizes, to a total of 6 prize-winning films overall. Winners will be notified by a nominated email, and if unclaimed the VSFF may award a prize to the next best valid entry instead.   

Read the terms and conditions of this competition here.  

What prizes are on offer in the Very Short Film Festival?  

Prizes vary from $500 to $5K per category, however it is unclear which categories or places recieve which prizes. Winners will also receive mentorship, but the identity of the mentor(s) and the duration of the mentorship is unstated.  

Winners will also receive free travel and accommodation to attend the Premiere Event in Spring Bay Mill at 5:30 p.m. on Friday 20th May 2022. This event will be livestreamed on the VSFF website, and last year’s event can be found here.  

About Arts Law’s Prize and Competition Reviews

Arts Law regularly reviews the terms and conditions of competitions and rates them out of five stars. Our review looks broadly at the terms and conditions of a competition. In particular, we look closely at how a competition deals with an entrant’s copyright and moral rights, and consider this in light of the prize.  Entrants should always take into account the possible profile-raising which may result from being a finalist or winner.  

By accepting the terms and conditions of a competition, entrants should be aware that they may be entering a legally binding contract.  

For more information, see our free information sheet on competition conditions. Artists are welcome to contact Arts Law for legal advice on the terms of a competition. We also invite competition organisers to contact Arts Law for best practice assistance to make their terms and conditions fairer for artists. 

Please note: Prior to February 2018, Arts Law’s rated out of five stars only the terms of a competition which dealt with copyright and moral rights. Arts Law’s competition reviews are now more holistic, such that our rating out of five stars now reflects a broad review of all the terms and conditions of the competition. For more information see our website. 

Further Information 

Please email us at [email protected] to tell us about any competitions or prizes you think we should check.  

See more about Arts Law’s campaign to improve competition terms and conditions in the Prizes and Competitions page.