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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

'Tis the (Awards) Season and D3F Is Calling for Short Films from Kids and Involved Dads

by Allan Shedlin

DADvocacy Consulting Group Founder and D3F Director

As this is the month we begin accepting submissions for the Daddying Film Festival & Forum (D3F), we previously announced we’d dedicate this month’s blogs to D3F-related content. That said, as a lifelong educator, it is not possible for me to ignore last Friday’s horror of a six-year-old shooting his teacher.

When I was earning my dual master's degree in elementary and special education, and later when I was studying for my doctorate in school administration, there were certainly no classes required (or needed) to teach us how to deal with school shootings. Even when one of my daughters, and now a granddaughter, were earning their education degrees, there was nothing in their preparation that dealt with the possibility of an elementary student brandishing a gun.

Each time there is another school shooting, I’m reminded of the extraordinarily important role teachers play daily in nurturing children and keeping them safe. Following the recent school closures during the pandemic, more families were forced to deal with schooling their children and thus many gained a better understanding of a teachers’ role and the challenges of their jobs.

As prelude to our D3F focus on the important role of dads, it is important to recognize how

often teachers serve in loco parentis, and to honor them for it.

* * *

Next week, we officially announce the opening of D3F 's call for entries. Starting Monday, January 16, students (1st grade through college undergraduates), dads, and dad figures are all encouraged to submit 1- to 7-minute short films or videos via our FilmFreeway page. Other indie filmmakers may also submit their work for consideration, including longer short films and feature-length films.

All interested filmmakers are required to submit films or smartphone-shot videos in MP4 or MOV format that relate in some way to one of our three D3F themes:

  • A letter to my father/A letter to my daughter/son

  • The most joyful/fun thing I ever did or wish I could do with my father and/or daughter/son; or

  • If I could make one wish come true for my dad and/or son/daughter it would be...

All film submissions are due by Saturday, April 1.

Please note that students (under 18) must have a parent's permission to register and upload films via FilmFreeway.

Our relationship with our father – in its presence or its absence – is one of the most important relationships in our lives. Because kids are most directly impacted by a dad’s involvement or his absence, D3F offers them a creative outlet to freely express their feelings about their relationships with their dads or dad figures, and likewise, D3F now provides a complementary opportunity for dads. D3F ’s mission is to:

  • Shine a spotlight on the importance of dads in their presence and in their absence.

  • Provide opportunities for kids and fathers alike to reflect upon and express feelings about what daddying qualities are most important to them; what kind of dad a father wants to be, and what kind of dad a kid wants and needs.

  • Provide opportunities for emotional authenticity, creativity, and originality.

  • Portray a variety of family dynamics in order to explore and encourage constructive relationships.

  • Demonstrate film- and/or video-making skills and production values.

We’re excited to launch the D3F 2023 call for entries as a first sequel to last year’s inaugural Daddying Film Festival, where we welcomed entries from student and indie filmmakers from 17 countries. By expanding our D3F call for entries and award categories this year to specifically include dads, we want to give even more filmmakers the opportunity to spotlight their important daddying concerns, ideas, and wishes in order to address them and move them to center stage.

D3F Film Evaluation

This year, D3F will present awards in seven different voting categories, and up to five finalists will be selected in each:

  1. 1st through 4th grade (elementary school)

  2. 5th through 8th (middle school)

  3. 9th through 12th (high school)

  4. College/university (undergraduate)

  5. Best Feature Film (students, dads/dad figures, and other indie filmmakers)

  6. Best Short Film (students, dads/dad figures, and other indie filmmakers)

  7. Best Film submitted by Dad/Dad Figure

2022 Atticus Award statuette

​To select D3F finalists, submissions will be narrowed by student and adult preliminary jurors from around the U.S., who have been trained in evaluating films by KIDS FIRST! and DADvocacy Consulting Group staff. As in 2022, our student jurors will range from fourth grade through high school (the same grade levels represented in student film/video submissions they evaluate). The criteria jurors use to evaluate each film/video submission reflect D3F's mission. All winners will be selected by public, online vote during Festival week, June 4-11.

D3F Awards

All D3F student finalists earn a $250 award for use toward an activity or project to enjoy with their dad/dad figure. All D3F winners, including dads and indie filmmakers, earn an “Atticus,” a statuette symbolizing Atticus Finch from the 1962 film based on Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird. Finch, an iconic single dad, represents several ideal daddying qualities. Student Atticus winners also earn an additional scholarship to advance their studies or create a project encouraging positive dad involvement.

Starting in 2023, the best film submission by a dad will earn a special award, the Roy R. Neuberger Prize, and $500 to use toward an activity or project with their child(ren).

Get Involved with D3F 2023!

In addition to launching a call for entries, D3F is recruiting additional jurors, event sponsors, partners, and celebrity judges and presenters. For more information about any of these opportunities, please contact us.

If you're looking for some inspiration to get you started on your own daddying short film/video, Hollywood produced several outstanding films just this past year that you might check out. You already may have seen a few of them. Give us a shout via the D3F website or let us know in the comments below what your favorite daddying-themed films were for 2022...or any other year.

We hope you'll create your own daddying video/film to submit for D3F consideration beginning next week. Yes, we know you're busy, as are we all. But at least think about it. Whatever you decide, please take a moment to help us reach, inspire, and celebrate more filmmaking kids and dads by sharing this post. The more kid and involved dad voices we can amplify the better it is for our families and communities!

Daddy on!


Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019, he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He has conducted daddying workshops in such diverse settings as Native American pueblos, veterans groups, nursery schools, penitentiaries, Head Start centers, corporate boardrooms, and various elementary schools, signifying the widespread interest in men in becoming the best possible dad. In 2022, Allan founded and co-directed the Daddying Film Festival & Forum to enable students, dads, and other indie filmmakers to use film as a vehicle to communicate the importance of fathers or father figures in each others' lives. Allan earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D and GRAND D-A-D the most important “degrees” of all.


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