Filmmakers from the 2018 Ohio Shorts competition pose together at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Wexner Center for the Arts

Step aside Steven Spielberg, the Wexner Center for the Arts’ annual film competition is back and it’s bringing more Ohio filmmakers to the spotlight.

On Jan. 2, the Wexner Center began accepting submissions for the 24th-annual Ohio Shorts competition, a short film contest open to filmmakers throughout the state. Winners will receive a cash prize and an opportunity to watch their film on the big screen, according to the Wexner Center’s website. 

The entry deadline is March 2, and a screening of selected films followed by a reception announcing the winners will take place April 18. The reception will include two awards: $500, chosen by a panel of judges, and $300, chosen by the audience, Jennifer Lange, curator of the film and video studio program at the Wexner Center, said.

Though there is an award component to the event, Lange said she doesn’t like to classify it as a competition and compared it to a group exhibition. 

“It’s more of a curated program that aims to show the diversity of art-making that’s happening in this region,” Lange said. 

The competition has both an adult division for ages 19 and up and a youth division for ages 18 and under. The adult division entries cannot surpass 20 minutes, and the youth division cannot surpass 5 minutes, according to the website. Both divisions require that entries have been produced in Ohio within the last 18 months. 

The judges panel, assembled by Lange, consists of Wexner Center staff and outside sources. Lange said the panel usually includes two to three people, but has not been finalized yet. 

The competition has no restrictions regarding genre. Lange said she advises a selection showing variety in film types when directing the panel on how to choose which submissions to include in the roughly 90-minute screening. 

“What we end up with is kind of the best films, but it’s also the best program from start to finish,” Lange said.

The ratio of amateur to professional filmmakers participating in the competition differs every year, Melissa Starker, public relations manager for the Wexner Center, said. 

However, there has been a consistent rise in submissions for the competition as a whole, Starker said. 

“The film community in Columbus and Ohio is growing, and it has been growing for at least the past decade,” Starker said. 

The submission deadline for the Wexner Center for the Arts’ Ohio Shorts is March 2. The screening and reception announcing the winners are at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Wexner Center. Selected submissions for screening will be announced via email by the week of March 23, according to the website. More information on the competition and its requirements can be found on the Wexner Center’s website.