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Student Academy Awards

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The Student Academy Awards became apart of the famous Academy Awards ceremony in 1973 and has kept rewarding qualified and extremely talented students ever since.  The awards were originally known as the Student film Awards until 1991, when they were named what they’re known as now, the Student Academy Awards.  Students from all over the world have the opportunity to submit their films to the Academy and have them run for a nomination list.  The applying process can be done online at, and only includes submission of your film electronically and an application that is also electronically.  Different rules apply for national and international students, but not by much.  There are also specific regional coordinators that the submissions are due to.

There are four specific categories that students can be nominated for.  The four include, Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Alternative.  The categories vary throughout the years.  There’s also an award for Foreign Film.

A little history about the awards:

  • September 1972, Herbert Klynn, who was an American animator suggested a separate category for student recognition for their short films.
  • In July of the next year, recommendations were brought to the Short Subjects Branch Executive Committee.
  • By September 4, 1973, rules were made.
  • The first Student Film Awards (ever) were announced on December 20, 1973.
  • In 1975, the awards became a summer ceremony that included medals, merits, and cash prizes.  This is the main difference between the original Academy Awards (Oscars) and the Student Academy Awards, besides being during different times of the year, the Academy Awards are based on receiving the statuettes whereas the Student Academy Awards are based on winning medals and other prizes.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also offers a timeline ( of how far the Student Awards have come since September 1972 when the idea was first pitched.

Well-known winners:

While there are plenty of noteworthy winners and nominators, there have also been a collection of winners who became very well-known directors and actors.  The long list includes:

  • Bob Saget – won the Documentary Merit for his film, “Through Adam’s Eyes” while he was attending Temple University in Philadelphia in 1978.
  • Spike Lee – won the Dramatic Merit for his film, “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads” while he was attending New York University in New York City in 1983.
  • Trey Parker – along with Chris Graves, won the Silver Medal for the Animation category for his film, “American History” while he was attending University of Colorado, Boulder in 1993.
  • John Lasseter – won the Animation Award for the Animation category for his film, “Nitemare” while he was attending the California Institute of the Arts in 1980.
  • Robert Zemeckis – won an award for the Special Jury in Dramatic category for his film, “A Field of Honor” while he was attending the University of Southern California in 1975.

There’s a very long list of the winners of all of the Student Academy Awards each year since 1973 at

According to, each year a compilation presentation of the gold medal award-winning films is circulated each year free of charge to educational and non-profit organizations nationwide.

There was only a small few that were available online:

Zoologic was directed by Nicole Mitchell and won the Animation Gold Medal in 2008.

Dried Up was directed by Isaiah Powers and Jeremy Casper and won the Animation Silver Medal in 2010.

Viola: The Traveling Rooms of a Little Giant was directed by Shih–Ting Hung and won the Alternative Gold Medal in 2008.