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AT&T Entertainment Project: Finding an Audience With Submittable

Coin Operated

Coin Operated, an animation by Nicholas Arioli, won the 2017 AT&T Entertainment Project Emerging Filmmaker Award.

Founded in 1882, AT&T Inc. is the world’s largest telecommunications company, with a mission to deliver an integrated, seamless, and smart entertainment experience to any screen anywhere and anytime. In 2017, AT&T began using the Submittable platform for the AT&T Entertainment Project, an open call for imaginative, undiscovered short films from talented storytellers across the United States. Finalists were showcased at AT&T SHAPE, a technology and entertainment expo attended by over 10,000 visitors at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles. The winning films also have a chance to air on AT&T’s AUDIENCE Network on DIRECTV.

Submittable is partnering with AT&T again this fall for the AT&T Film Awards, with both companies dedicated to putting new talent in the spotlight.

During the previous SHAPE expo and short film contest in 2016, Dave Okamoto, Senior Marketing Manager at AT&T, used a different vendor to help manage their 300 video submissions. When AT&T decided to increase its goal to 1,000 video submissions for 2017, Okamoto started looking at other options. He came across a high school film festival in New York using Submittable and decided to “test the waters” by signing up for a demo.

While his leadership team was initially cautious about switching vendors, Okamoto convinced them they were in a position to try something different. “There were a number of other similar or related activities that [Submittable] has worked with… that reached our target audience,” recalled Okamoto. The audience included professional and student filmmakers from around the country.

The Shochet, by Michelle Nahmad, won the 2017 AT&T Entertainment Project Student Filmmaker Award.

In the end, obtaining the 1,000 videos wasn’t the issue. “I thought that was going to be our biggest challenge,” says Okamoto. He pointed out that there are a large number of competitive film contests and festivals in the market looking for talent. Because AT&T is emerging as an entertainment channel for content creators, Okamoto and his team wanted to make sure they were reaching their new demographic. “Putting myself in the shoes of the filmmaker,” said Okamoto, “it’s like, why should I care. What do you guys have to offer me?”

Utilizing Submittable’s vast audience of artists and filmmakers they found their niche: AT&T reached their goal in just 3 weeks. They received responses from 41 states and had to close the submission window early due to the overwhelming response. When it came to picking a winner, Submittable’s collaborative review process “was a huge help” in reviewing the films and coordinating the short list of winners. You can view the 2017 AT&T Entertainment Project winning films here.

The AT&T Film Awards begins accepting submissions on October 10, 2017. Winners will be announced in December 2017.


Jolene Brink

Jolene Brink is a product marketing manager for submitter growth, which means she spends most of her time thinking about ways to connect Submittable's creative community with more than 10,000 organizations using Submittable to collect submissions. She's also a poet, essayist and visual artist. You can see her work here: jolenebrink.com