Chatting all things #AiFUpload with creator, Costa Vakas

Australians in Film caught up with the creator and Executive Producer of #AiFUpload Costa Vakas, to sit down chat all about his latest creation – the online short film festival in the palm of your hands!

Costa, it’s so great to speak with you! Tell us in a nutshell what #AiFUpload is all about?

Thanks! The idea struck me as soon as Instagram announced their IGTV platform. Knowing firsthand all the struggles it takes to get selected in any film festival, why not break down that barrier and build one that is solely online? You Submit. We Upload. Everyone Watches! It’s never been a more exciting time for screen entertainment and the way we consume it. I think it is high time to rethink what a film festival can be.

Can you tell us about the finalist shorts that have been selected?

Of course – we have such a huge mix this year and I really wanted to showcase the amazing pool of talent not only the AiF member community has, but the Australian screen industry as a whole. Claudia Pickering’s Cheetah Air is a hilarious take on budget airlines, as well as award-winning actor/director/writer Marty Copping’s Safety First, shot here in LA, about a trio of bank robbers who as the title suggests, put safety first before their getaway. Moreover, we wanted to showcase not just traditional shorts but also high-concept pieces including Daniel Monk’s Marrow and renowned filmmaker Sam Meikle’s Melancholy.

Are you concerned about the changing landscape of how we consume films?

Not at all. In fact, any opportunity that allows people to watch films wherever they may be, in the comfort of their own homes or whilst travelling interstate – it’s a huge win for everyone. Smart phones are becoming so much more advanced, the quality of the screens and the cameras themselves are beginning to rival professional grade cameras. We’re pretty close to not being able to discern between the two!

So who can enter?

We invite all AiF members to share their original works through the world’s largest creative digital community – Instagram. Furthermore, we encourage shorts across all genres to be considered including animation, artistic, comedy, drama, action and documentary.

When is the submission period?
Submissions for this year is now closed. They were open on Monday July 23 at 10:00AM (PST) / Tuesday July 24 at 3:00PM (AEST) and the deadline for submission was Monday 6 August at 11:59AM (PST) / Tuesday August 7 4:59AM (AEST).

Do you need an Instagram account to submit my short?
No, but to increase your short film’s awareness, we highly recommended you do so you can share it with friends and colleagues and other interested parties! (just make sure your account is set to ‘Public’).

How much does it cost to submit?
Like all good things in life, It’s free!

How are the award winners chosen?
Well the top 10 finalists will be uploaded on AiF’s Instagram channel from Monday August 13th to Wednesday August 15th (USA), at which point, AiF’s panel of judges will select a winner for the “Jury Prize”. Additionally, the “Fan Favourite” will be awarded to the film with the highest Likes-to-Views ratio on Instagram on Friday August 24 (USA)

Likes-to-Views? What does that mean?

Haha it sounds like a headscratcher, but we have a team of super-smart chimps who can crunch this data – by dividing each short film’s Instagram Likes by the number of Video Views. Therefore, the short film with the highest Likes-to-Views ratio will be selected to receive the Fan Favourite Award!

What prize do award winners receive?
The Jury Prize winner will receive a USD$500 cash prize and the Fan Favourite winner will receive a cash prize of USD$250. The Top 10 films will also be publicly available to view on AiF’s IGTV channel for two months after the end of the festival until Friday October 26 at 6:00PM (PST) / Saturday October 27 at 11:00AM (AEST)

When will the winners be announced?

The Jury’s Choice Award and Fan Favourite Award winners will be announced on Friday August 24th (USA) / Saturday August 25th (Australia). Good luck everyone!

Thanks so much for your time and we can’t wait to see the shorts!

Thanks and I can’t wait for you to check them out! Be sure to follow Australians in Film on Instagram for the latest updates!

About Costa Vakas

Even during his graduate years at the University of New South Wales, Costa has never shied away from producing, editing or marketing an incredible amount of work. While he was studying his Fine Arts degree, Costa was not only creating an online art magazine but also launched a successful companion art exhibit for emerging Sydney artists called COSINE. There, his penchant for bringing people together to share their using technology and art was born. Today, Costa is a multi-faceted and award-winning Producer, Editor and Director. He has since been working in the media, television and digital landscapes beginning in 2012, where he was listed in T-Mobile’s Electronic Beats ‘Music Videos To Watch’ for his directorial debut in Light Year’s ‘Moderation’ clip, with over 165,000 views on YouTube. His work then caught the attention of MTV AUSTRALIA where he began his career as an Assistant Producer, working with legendary MTV presenters Kate Peck and Keiynan Lonsdale. There, he produced the world famous MTV NEWS before becoming their fully-fledged Commercial Producer under MTV’s parent company, VIACOM INTERNATIONAL MEDIA NETWORKS in 2014. Costa’s panache for all things trending pop culture, technology, art and style saw him develop ground-breaking and successful programs such as MTV POP 20, MTV BRAND NEW, MTV SUPERFAN SEARCH, MTV ADIDAS FIT SESSIONS and his award-winning campaign, MTV SUMMER OF MUSIC. Not only that, Costa helped launch MTV PRIDE – the first-ever cable subscription channel takeover of its kind celebrating the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras with hosts Courtney Act, Dannii Minogue and Troye Sivan. In between his time at MTV, Costa has also edited and produced a range of digital content for COMEDY CENTRAL AUSTRALIA, NICKELODEON AUSTRALIA, VOGUE AUSTRALIA, GQ AUSTRALIA, short films THE COUNTDOWN, THE STUDIO (directed by Marty Copping) and THE OTHER FELLOW (directed by Matt Bowyer), a feature documentary about real men named James Bond and what it’s like to live in the shadow of the world’s most famous spy (the film is currently in its final stages of post-production and has been submitted to the LONDON FILM FESTIVAL). With a slew of successful projects under his belt, Costa set his sights for Los Angeles in 2016, where he has produced work with many established international brands including CBS STUDIOS, QANTAS, NETFLIX, PARAMOUNT PICTURES and assistant to director JEREMY PODESWA (GAME OF THRONES, HANDMAID’S TALE). Helping elevate Australia’s cultural impact on the entertainment industry abroad, in 2018 Costa reshaped AUSTRALIANS IN FILM into a cutting-edge and progressive organization. One that promotes, nurtures and celebrates Australian screen talent globally and provides professional development to Australian screen creatives through networking opportunities and industry programs in the US. He has been instrumental in its immense growth as the Director of Digital Content & Operations, relaunching their brand new website, upgrading their membership database platform and leading the online campaigns of the prestigious HEATH LEDGER SCHOLARSHIP, the ANNUAL AiF AWARDS and Executive Producer behind the world’s first IGTV short film festival, #AiFUPLOAD.