Film Fests get your videos in front of the right people. Photo by Sam Javanrouh

Is your video masterpiece ready to take world by storm?

HERE ARE SEVEN VIDEO contests that want your videos. Winners are promised fame and fortune. Even runners up get serious air-time.

1. X Prize Foundation’s Exploration Video Contest

One of the coolest contests was, of course, created by one of the most exploration-oriented groups in the world, the X Prize Foundation. These guys are looking for videos that illustrate the importance of exploration on both the personal and species-wide levels.

““Exploration of space, our Earth and its oceans has shaped the way we live on this planet today, and your exploration will help shape the world of tomorrow. As fellow explorers, we want to know why you do it. What is the meaning and impact of your exploration? Why do you explore?”

Not only does the contest itself revolve around physical and philosophical exploration, but the grand prize ensures that you’ll be traveling again, this time to such exotic locals as Antarctica or any of the 40 other National Geographic Expeditions.

Deadline: April 10th, 2012

2. Sundance Film Festival

Think you’re ready for the big time? The really big time? Maybe it’s time to throw your baby into the shark tank of one of the biggest film festivals in the world. The Sundance judges whittle over 9,000 entries down to less than two-hundred, looking for the very best independent films the industry has to offer. Sure, the competition is fierce, but the payoff can be huge. Forty-five of the films screened at the festival were purchased last year and several went on to win Oscars. Aside from the cash incentives, the bragging rights of winning the Sundance (or even appearing) will make you the star of any dinner party.

Deadline: 2012 dates TBD

3. International Documentary Challenge

You’ve been sitting for the last few months watching a blend of NatGeo and the History Channel, dreaming of filming your own documentary while the dust from potato chips threatens to consume you.

Yeah, you’ll start filming tomorrow. Sure.

What you may need is someone to bitch-slap you out of your stupor with some structure. The folks at International Documentary Challenge have thrown down the gauntlet. IDC give filmmakers a choice of genres and a theme to work with. From there, you have only five days to plan, shoot, and edit that sucker before popping it in the mail.

If the tight structure isn’t enough to get you moving, the prizes might be. Top spots get over $1000.00US and much more in donated services. Even if you don’t win, DocChallenge.org promotes your work to other festivals and TV networks. According to their website:

“Last year we worked all year on getting the films screened many times and we actually got more TV distribution for non-winners than winners!”

Deadline: Entrants are limited to 300. Challenge starts in early March

4. Nomading Film Fest

Maybe you don’t consider yourself a filmmaker. You travel and you carry a video camera to capture the cool stuff you see when you’re on the road. The Nomading Film Festival is looking for travel stories told by “travelers who make films rather than filmmakers who travel.”

“We believe that stories caught on film, while traveling, are some of the most entertaining, educating, beautiful, and authentic. These are stories which should be shared, acknowledged, and celebrated.“

Nomading Film Fest is expanding for 2012, having events in both Portland, Oregon as well as New York City.

Deadline: NoFF opens up submissions for 2012 on 11/11/2011

5. Vimeo Film Festival and Awards

The Vimeo Awards are a showcase of what I like to call the “Vimeo Triangle,” where an unsuspecting internet surfer sails into the site, then proceeds to disappear for hours inside a vortex of well-produced videos.

Vimeo’s First film festival in 2010 showed that an online videos could be every bit as funny, moving, or beautifully done as big production films, as well as pull in mega-prizes ($25,000 for 1st place). If you missed the inaugural Vimeo Film Fest, you’ll get another chance to participate in the spring of 2012.

6. Cinema Out of Your Backpack Awards and Film Festival

For a lot of travelers, packing light is a mantra. Why manage all of the excesses of having a lot of equipment when just a few items can create the same look?

The annual Cinema Out of Your Backpack awards and film festival is a celebration of the light and fast philosophy of making films. Filmmakers are free to make either fictional or documentary films, but they must be able to fit all of their equipment into their backpack (and prove it with a picture of the bag in action.)

Deadline: TDB, but most likely next spring.

7. Banff Mountain Film Competition

After putting hundreds of hours into making a killer video about ice-climbing Wyoming’s Wind River Range, you’re about to post it to a 3×5-inch window on a computer screen. Imagine, instead, premiering it on a forty-foot theater screen in front of thousands of die-hard adventure-film fans.

This is the allure of the Banff Mountain Film Competition. For over 35 years the Banff Mountain Film Festival has been showcasing the best outdoor adventure films. Their networking and tour schedule means that if your film gets selected, it will be seen by thousands of people salivating for the gnarliest footage and the most passionate stories.

You just might have to start practicing your acceptance speeches.

Deadline: 2012 BMFF opens submissions in May