What happens when you combine Hollywood’s elite with independent filmmakers and the shores of Santa Monica? You create one of the most revered awards show- The Film Independent Spirit Awards.

On Saturday, March 1st, the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards takes place under a tent on the Santa Monica sand, a few blocks south of Casa del Mar and Shutters on the Beach. Always the day before the Oscars and with their infamous ‘Not- So- Red’ carpet (it is actually pink), the Spirit Awards have a long-standing tradition of poking fun at the Academy.

The ceremony honors the best in independent film. So what qualifies as an independent film?

Here’s a quick overview of the Spirit Awards qualifications:

• Films must have a budget ceiling of $20 million- including post-work.
• Films are not defined independent on purely fiscal terms. “If the subject matter is original and provocative” it can be considered as independent.
• The film needs to be American- to have a U.S. citizen in two of the following categories: director, writer or producer.
• A film can be considered American if it’s set in the U.S. and financed by U.S.-based companies at least 70%.
• A commercial run in the calendar year or to have screened in one of the approved festivals: Los Angeles Film Fest, New York Fest, Sundance, New Directors/New Films, Telluride or Toronto

Jeanne Lucas and current Film Independent President, Anne Kimmel, conceived the Spirit Awards in 1984. The show was first known as the ‘FINDIE’ (Friends of Independent) Awards, changing names to the Independent Spirit Awards in 1986. The award show was created to thank ‘individuals and organizations for their support of independent filmmakers.’ While the awards show has grown immensely in size over the last 28 years, it still has its unique independent flare.

Although this year’s nominees boast popular names like, ’12 Years A Slave’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ there are also lesser known films that have been nominated for the different categories. To view the list of 2014 nominees please visit the Spirit Awards website.