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Media Arts Festival

CSU Summer Arts established the Media Arts Festival in 1991 to give talented students studying film, broadcasting, video, screenwriting, and new media within the 23-campus California State University system an opportunity to present their work for critical review. The mission of the MAF includes helping students of the CSU bridge the gap between student and working professional and to become better prepared to work in the entertainment and media industries.

A panel of distinguished faculty and industry leaders selects each year’s finalists and winners, and all finalist selections are screened at the festival. Cash prizes and the prestigious CSU Media Arts Festival Award are bestowed on award-winning works.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to submit a project to the Media Arts Festival competition?

  • Current and recent former students of any California State University campus who completed their projects while enrolled between May 2021 and May 2022 are eligible to submit a project to the competition. Submitters can hail from any CSU campus department - it is not necessary to be associated with a media department. Non-CSU students are not eligible to submit to this competition. 
  • Each student may submit ONE project per competition cycle and that student must be the creator, director, or producer for media content with moving images, or the writer for screenplays, only. 

I was not the creator, director, producer, or writer of the project I want to submit, but I worked on the film in another role. Can I submit the project to the MAF?
No. Only the student director, producer, writer, or creator is eligible to submit the project to the MAF. The submitter can add other contributors to the list of people to receive credit for the project.

​I worked on this project with many other people, including people who were not CSU students. Is my project eligible for submission?
As long as the director, producer, creator, and/or writer is a CSU student and both the student submitter and the project meet all other submission criteria, the project is eligible for submission.

Is there a limit to the number of projects I can submit? I worked on two projects and want to submit both. How can I submit more than one project?
Yes. Each student lead may submit only one project per cycle. If you are the director for Project A and the producer for Project B, you submit Project A and the other student creator/director/producer/writer for Project B should submit Project B and list your name in the section requesting additional credits. Each student can be credited as additional contributors for an unlimited number of projects. 

I’ve already graduated or am no longer enrolled. Can I still submit my project?
Yes, as long as the project was completed while you were enrolled and between May 2021 and May 2022. 

Can a CSU faculty or staff member submit a project on behalf of a student, especially if the student is no longer enrolled? Can a faculty or staff member submit the project on behalf of the department. 
No. Students must complete and submit their own projects. Projects submitted on behalf of students will be disqualified. Projects submitted on behalf of the department will be disqualified. 

Is there a fee to submit a project?
For the 2022 cycle, there are no submission fees. For future competitions, there may be submission fees.

My project isn't represented on your list of categories.  Do you have a general category for submission?
No. The MAF does not have a general category for submission that is not Animation, Documentary/Creative Non-Fiction and Television News, Interactive and Immersive Media, Narrative, and Short Screenplay. We encourage you to submit your project to other festival competitions that feature your category. 

What media formats do you accept for submissions?
Submissions must be uploadable video files that are up to 500MB, PDF files that are up to 20MB, or image files that are up to 10MB in size.

Can I resubmit a project to the Media Arts Festival if my project did not advance to the finals in a previous year?
No. Projects previously submitted to the Media Arts Festival are not eligible for resubmission unless the project was not accepted the previous cycle because we received too few submissions in that category. Projects eligible for resubmission may be no more than one-cycle old.

I’m still working on my project and want to submit the unfinished version.  If I am chosen as a finalist, can I submit the finished version for the screening?
No. Whatever version you submit for judging will be the version that will be presently publicly if chosen as a finalist.

If I have submitted my project to another competition, can I submit it to the Media Arts Festival?
Yes. The Media Arts Festival accepts projects submitted to other festivals as long as other submission requirements are met.

I don’t have fancy equipment or a large production budget. Will my project still be considered if it is not as highly produced as others?
Yes, of course. Reviewers tell us that what is most important is the quality of the story, the delivery, and creativity and imagination.

What is the finalist selection process? Who sees my project? Who chooses the winners?
All qualified submissions are screened and reviewed by CSU faculty members who score the projects and the scores determine the semi-finalists and finalists. The submissions are then screened and reviewed by entertainment industry professionals whose scores determine the winners in each category. Finalists are screened publicly at the festival. Winning submissions are broadcast on the MAF website and social media. 

What is the prize for winning?
For the 2022 cycle, all finalists will receive a cetificate. Winners in each category receive a trophy. 

Can I invite my family to the screening and awards ceremony?
Yes, please do! All attendees will need to RSVP for the screening and awards ceremony. Attendance information will be emailed to submitters at the beginning of the Fall semester or quarter.

If my project wins at the Festival, how will I find out that I won if I am unable to attend the awards ceremony?
Winners not in attendance will be notified by email following the Festival.

If I am not a finalist, can I still attend the screening and awards ceremony?
Yes, absolutely. Come to the MAF to support your fellow students, network with other students and industry professionals, and see the awesome work being produced by the students of the California State University.

What happens to the projects after the Festival?
Winning projects will be posted to the Media Arts Festival website and social media outlets.

Are there any suggestions for submitters? What kind of feedback have you gotten from judges about projects?

  • Create your work safely, following social distancing and other Covid-prevention protocols.
  • View your project all the way through in real time. Make sure that your playback works (or that your screenplay does not have typos) and has all of the elements that it is supposed to have. We have received entries that are missing the audio track, freeze unexpectedly in the middle of the piece, typos, etc.
  • Submit a clean, scratch-free, distortion-free, typo-free project. If scratches, dropped audio, and distortion are intentional, leave the project as you created it!
  • For moving-image works, make sure that your lens and audio are clear, and that the audio and video are in sync.
  • Capture your audience early in the piece. Don’t make people wait for the good part that is buried in the middle of the project.
  • Keep the project moving along. Pacing is a big issue.