That is an excellent question. All films are submitted through FilmFreeway. From that site, the Selection Committee (eight people) view ALL of the films. As committee members are watching, we ask them to think about these
Is the film too slow and how does it grab your attention within the first minute?
How will the sound quality transfer to the large screen format?
Does it have originality?
Do you care about the characters and are they memorable?
How is the overall image quality and will it transfer to the large screen format ?
For a documentary, is it just a profile which can be told in a minute?
Is the story too predictable?
Is there a specific goal or theme?
If there is a soundtrack, does it match the visuals?
Can you connect emotionally?
Was the performance consistent and entertaining?
When the committee member is ready to select, there are four categories which are a 1-10 score, with one being the lowest:
Content (Story, Writing, Coherence)
Technical Excellence (Sound, Lighting, Cinematography)
These scores are averaged. Then the committee meets and considers: the averages and any comments or notes; whether the films will fit in the limited time frame to show the films; if someone has submitted before; the number of films representing the six states involved; and if a member of the committee is willing to fight for a specific film to be included.
After the films are selected, then those films are released to the jurors.