Posts Tagged 'filmmaking'

Short Screenplay Competitions

The post on the DC Shorts was quite informative and the statistics said you enjoyed it. Then i decided to seek through the entire Withoutabox for competition you may enter with your short film script. I might convert it into a page and update it constantly when i get back from a trip.

Here you’ll find the links for the festival rules and some of its rules. For a competition to be listed here it must have a limit of pages for your script as i’m dedicating this page to short scripts only. I hope this turns out to be a constant reference for you. Remember these aren’t all the competitions available worldwide, but those available on Withoutabox.

Also keep in mind that earlier you join the competition, cheaper you pay. Please read the rules of the competition carefully before submitting.

If you find any errors or have suggestions, please leave a comment.

ReelHeART International Film Festival
50 ~ 80 USD
! January 4, 2013
 under 15 pages
* none
@ a trophy or medallion.

Bloody Hero International Film Festival
20 ~ 50 USD
! January 5, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ a sculpture.

L.A.Comedy Shorts
25 ~ 70 USD
! January 10, 2013
 under 30 pages
* comedy.
@ 1000 USD. goods/services: 1250 USD.

A Night of Horror International Film Festival
16 ~ 58 USD
! January 15, 2013
 less than 45 pages
* horror.
@ none described.

FANTASTIC PLANET: Sydney International Sci-Fi & Fantasy Film Festival
16 ~ 53 USD
! January 15, 2013
 under 45 pages
* none.
@ to be adjusted.

Steeltown Film Factory
15 ~ 75 USD
! January 18, 2013
 under 12 pages
* none.
goods/services: 30000 USD.

Brooklyn Girl Film Festival
15 ~ 35 USD
! January 19, 2013
 up to 30 pages
* written (or co-written) by woman.
@ yet to be determined.

Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival
20 ~ 65 USD
! January 21, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ a medallion.

International Family Film Festival
20 ~ 35 USD
! January 25, 2013
 under 44 pages
* must be registered or copyright, drama, comedy, animation, sci-fi/fantasy, musical.
@ a certificate

Canadian Short Screenplay Competition
25 ~ 75 USD
! January 31, 2013
 under 15 pages
* screenplays must not be based on another piece of work unless public domain.
@ over $75,000 worth in prizes.

Kansas City FilmFest
25 ~ 55 USD
! February 1, 2013
 under 15 pages
* must be written (or co-written) by a woman
@ 1000 USD.

Sacramento International Film Festival
20 ~ 65 USD
! February 10, 2013
 under 20 pages
* none.
@ trophy and prize package.

Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival
15 ~ 50 USD
! February 14, 2013
 under 45 pages
* none.
@ goods/services: 10000 USD.

United Film Festival
20 ~ 60 USD
! February 17, 2013
 under 45 pages
* dramacomedyhorror/thriller.
@ trophy and prize package.

deadCENTER Film Festival
20 ~ 40 USD
! February 25, 2013
 under 15 pages
* none.
@ live table read.

California International Shorts Festival
35 ~ 70 USD
! February 27, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ a title.

Hill Country Film Festival
15 ~ 40 USD
! March 6, 2013
 under 10 pages
* none
@ to be adjusted.

St. Tropez International Film Festival
137 ~ 226 USD
! March 14, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ you should read this one for yourself.

LA Comedy Film Festival
25 ~ 70 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 32 pages
* comedy.
@ 250 USD. value of good/services: 500 USD.

London Independent Film Festival
49 ~ 89 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 50 pages
* obscene, pornographic or illegal material is not allowed.
@ good/services: 500 United Kingdom Pounds.

Spirit Quest Film Festival
20 ~ 55 USD
! March 15, 2013
 under 49 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Nantucket Film Festival
20 ~ 55 USD
! March 26, 2013
 under 40 pages
* copyrighted or WGA registered.
@ 500 USD.

LAFF Vegas
25 ~ 60 USD
!  March 31, 2013
 under 49 pages
* comedy.
@ none described.

Woods Hole Film Festival
15 ~ 45 USD
! April 10, 2013
 under 30 pages
* hard copy required
@ yet to be determined.

Las Vegas Film Festival
35 ~ 55 USD
! April 15, 2013
 under 75 pages
* none.
@ over 10000 USD shared among the winners.

Snake Alley Festival of Film
20 ~ 60 USD
! April 15, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ wood sculpture.

Vegas Cinefest
20 ~ 65 USD
! April 25, 2013
 up to 25 pages
* none.
@ none described.

DC Shorts Screenwriting Competition
35~ 75 USD
! May 31, 2013
 up to 15 pages
* none.
@ 2000 USD.

Creative World Awards Screenwriting Competition
24 ~ 69 USD
! June 1, 2013
 less than 40 pages
* screenplays must not be based on another piece of work unless public domain, no more than two authors.
@ 250 USD. Goods/Services: 1000 USD.

Columbia Gorge International Film Festival
15 ~ 95 USD
! June 3, 2013
 less than 15 pages
* hard copies required, .
@ none described.

Denver Indie Fest
15 ~ 50 USD
! June 24, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ it’s not a competition, so no prizes.

Eddie Bauer Jr. Screenplay Competition Benefiting the National Childrens Cancer Society
20 ~ 65 USD
! July 1, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ value of good/services: 5000 USD.

2013 SF Shorts: San Francisco International Festival of Short Films
$ 25 ~ 55 USD
! July 7, 2013
under 10 pages
* live-action, narrative, non-period, non-effects based.
@ value of good/services: 1900 USD. Script produced under 5k budget.

Action On Film International Film Festival
30 ~ 55 USD
! July 20, 2013
 under 19 pages
* none
@ value of good/services: 100 ~ 2500 USD.

SoCal Independent Film Festival
15 ~ 55 USD
! July 26, 2013
 under 30 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Manhattan Short Film Festival
35 ~ 40 USD
! July 31, 2013
 under 20 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Hollywood Screenplay Contest
25 ~ 55 USD
! August 10, 2013
 under 75 pages
* none.
@ over 20000 USD  in cash, prizes and services shared among winners.

Silent River Film Festival
25 ~ 45 USD
! August 13, 2013
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ an award.

New York Screenplan Contest
25 ~ 50 USD
! August 20, 2013
 under 70 pages
* none.
@ none described.

Eerie Horror Film Festival
15 ~ 50 USD
! September 1, 2013
 under 69 pages
horrorscience fictionmysterysuspense of the supernatural.
@ sponsor prizes.

West Field Screenwriting Awards
30 ~ 50 USD
! September 30, 2013
 under 40 pages
* none.
@ an award.

WILDsound Feedback Film and Screenplan Festival
35 ~ 40 USD
! Rolling deadline
 under 50 pages
* none.
@ a read of your screenplay for the audience.


Short Formats: Narrative Film

Hey, sorry for taking so long to come back and write down the last part of the Short Formats series. I await for this article to be a really special one, hopefully it won’t burst your expectations, nor confirm your disappointments. This is the moment of truth: does your idea fit into a narrative short film? If you have simply ignored that your concept might be a better music video or interactive film than a classical short story until now, you must remember that the story gonna pick its format. Ignoring the evidence right in front of you would be your first mistake, even before developing your idea. Open your eyes and don’t insist into making your idea a different film than it applies.

In my article, Allowing the idea to talk, i’ve said that a story needs a LIFE CHANGING EVENT, a OBSTACLE and a GOAL, yet you obviously will also need a CHARACTER and a LOCATION.

LIFE CHANGING EVENT doesn’t mean you should bring all the catastrophic hollywoodian crap to your story. People can change on simple things. This is more of a STARTING POINT. Why your story begins now? Something must have changed and from that point your story cracks open. A good short will often open in a break of routine.

This leads us to CHARACTER, the target for the LIFE CHANGING EVENT, and two sub-divisions of short film scripts: SITUATION-DRIVEN and CHARACTER-DRIVEN. I shall repeat myself, but it is really hard to make a character-driven short film due to the insufficient time to develop the inner-changes in our characters, still, some people try. For a character-driven story to work out, you must introduce a character and he is required to come along a adjective attached, since the most important is that you develop your character enough under the life changing incident that they’ll present a VALUE CHANGE. In the length of your story, the LIFE CHANGING EVENT will force your CHARACTER to change in order to bypass the OBSTACLEs hindering him to reach his GOALs.

APRICOT, by Ben Briand, is the closest i can remember on a purely character-driven short film. Besides being wonderfully well shot, it is confusing. Is it Marcel her first love trying to connect the memories he has left in order to find out if she was the one? That’s never clear. Even if he convinces her that he’s the boy she gave her first kiss, why should she kiss he in return? It’s poetic and cute, yet Marcel could be only a psycho driving her into his seduction game. What lacks in this film is the confirmation that Marcel IS the one. Possibly if we started in the same place, however with the man telling her his torn pieces of memory after her reluctance to answer to his questions, she would low her guard and fill his incomplete puzzle. Still not convinced, she would refuse to stick in the game, then Marcel would show her one of the SEVERAL elements for a possible ellipsis the film introduces, like an apricot or even one of the pictures he’d have taken of her. Then she would kiss him. This character change from negation to affirmation is the core of a character. Negative to positive, this is a common sort of VALUE CHANGE. The character whom must overcome their fears to attain the award.

Even with the changes i suggested, the film would possibly be still too hasty and the third act, the twist, could feel precipitous. Here lies the huge red river between short films and feature films, the latter are always character driven, even a movie like TRANSFORMERS has a main character whom must overcome his cowardice to save the world and get the girl. Meanwhile, situation-driven stories seem to have a cozy spot at short films.

SITUATION-DRIVEN short films explore an event and the finests will squeeze the situation until the story gets the last drop. One of the first shorts i shared in this blog is a great example for a 100% situation-driven short film:

LUCKY, by Nash Edgerton, has a tool-character, which is the typical main character through which the story simply pass by without any inner change, since he has no interior value or depth. The tool character is just an action figure. In LUCKY you get the full package. A guy frees himself from a trunk only to find out that he’s in a high speed car, with a rock in the accelerator pedal, rushing in the desert with an uncertain destiny (LIFE CHANGING EVENT). Now the guy must fight his way into the pilot seat (OBSTACLE) in order to stop the car (GOAL) before it hits something and kills him (URGENCY and STAKES, two things we’re going to check more carefully in another article). Actually, the narrative cinema began in full-situation-driven films in the silent era. Life of an American Fireman, by Edwin S. Porter, is an example from 1903 of how a short film can be well done. You’ll sooner or later find out that most of our tool-characters are still mute :)

Still, not all situation-driven short films are so explicit into their natures and with that i mean that you don’t actually need a tool-character to develop this kind of narrative. Sometimes characters have some sort of interior value, but its change is irrelevant in comparison to the possibilities of the situation. These characters are not complex, they just follow up a very straightforward characterization, like the goofy boyfriend and the pissed off girlfriend from our next example, another one by Nash Edgerton: Spider.

We begin the film with that quite ordinary situation of the girlfriend angry with the boyfriend, it’s easily identifiable. Yet this is good, we start the film with a conflict and if you need to show your cards only later in the film, you should always put some conflict in the beginning to keep us tied to the story. They stop by a gas station and the guy seeks for reconciliation. We see the spider for the first time around the 3-minute mark. She disdains, but gaves in at the chocolate. Even though there’s a change in the conflict here, it is as shallow as plate, we know that he placed the spider in the car and that she’ll find it and that’s what keep us waiting by this point. She finds it right before the 6-minute mark. They desperatelly stop the car. She leaves, scared as fuck. The guy explains and throws the spider at her, she instinctively jumps back and is hit by a car. The movie could have ended here. But the paramedics arrive and while preparing an injection one of them finds the spider and in the fright stick the syringe into the goofy boyfriend’s eye. That’s squeezing a situation into all prospects. It doesn’t have a clear GOAL, neither the other elements a story often requires, its just the LIFE CHANGING EVENT and its consequences explored.

This means that if you only have a strong event you may still create a good short film and that’s the reason why everyone should initiate in the short film world with a movie of this kind. Spider is not the story about a couple trying to reconcile, however of a toy-spider and its repercussion into the couple’s quotidian. OBJECTS are the best friends of a short film screenwriter and i’ll soon dedicate an entire article for them.

To close this article, is worth noticing that sometimes the LOCATION is the elements that domains the idea and whenever your WORLD is too complex to fit only as background from a plot, you have the alternative to create a WORLD-DRIVEN short film. Or a WHAT IF? film, as i illustrated before using Neill Blomkamp’s Alive in Joburg. This kind of film is going to show an excerpt of a fictional world and it doesn’t necessarily requires a LIFE CHANGING EVENT because it is normally already included into the LOCATION. There you have a less serious approach in PIXELS, by Patrick Jean.

Now that we have the formats cleared from our driveway, we may proceed exclusively in the narrative short film and all its possibilities.

This is the sixth and last article of the Short Formats series. You may check the others by clicking here.

Hope to see you next time (not taking that long to write my next post, by the way).

Short Formats: Interactive Film

I must apologize to my few dear readers, but i can’t afford to start the discussion on narrative now, as i stated in the previous post. That’s because would be reckless of me not talking at least a little bit about interactive films after their introduction in the last article.

As the internet became the best vehicle to distribute short films, it thoroughly changed our possibilities regarding their form. As i’ve stated while illustrating with the Arcade Fire music video (which if you haven’t yet seen, you should) in the music video discussion, this is quite a brand-new niche and we’re still developing the language and exploring its prospects. Take for example that viral Facebook movie app Take this Lollipop, it creates a short film based on the information you display on Facebook. The storytelling is certainly poor, still, it is just another example of how this field needs better stories. Both examples demand something from the viewer to enhance the experience and introduce these details into the narrative, but there’s barely no control inside the film itself. Everyone gets, literally a different experience from watching these films, it’s like if they read Barthes’ Death of the Author and said “Yah, we got your point”.

It’s worth the note that the majestic work of mise-en-scéne on The Wildnerness Downtown, fragmenting the screen into a innovative splitscreen concept. Watch out, Brian De Palma.

While the interactivity into narrative films of this kind uses a pre-set to specify its settings, the documentary has found itself a comfortable nest in a different sort of interface. Much more closer to websites or even videogames, documentaries like Bear 71 and Brother Soldier gives almost a roleplaying experience into their films. With a great use of voice-over, both of them are quite delightful. Bear 71, allowing you to visit a small vectorial representation of the Canadian National Park and follow the data points along the boundaries. I honestly kept myself a feel minutes wandering because i wanted to find a lynx.

Still, the most amazing feature of interactive film is that they completely break the barrier of runtime. Despite the opening scenario into longer short films, their runtimes are still predefined, but in the case of films like Welcome to Pine Point, you set your own time. The single fact that the possibility to skip a scene is made PART of the film, gives a completely different view, because the user decides the length of its experience and regardless of its duration, as long as it reaches the end it’ll be complete according to the expectations of this interactive film. It’s like agglutinating the outrage of the DVD remote control and turn it into a good thing.

There’s a lot of corn to harvest from these fields and i cheer to anyone whom decides to explore the limits of the cinematographic language into this kind of movie.

For example, wouldn’t be great to see a half noir, perhaps even based on Clue, where you had these, for the sake of the example, 9 scenarios and according to the order of view your interpretation of the final facts would be completely different, each set-piece could give red-herrings and confirmations for former and latter declarations.

It’s all about experience enhancement, nothing better to keep your viewer closer than allowing him to choose the film he wants to see.

This is the fifth article of the series Short Formats. You may check the others by clicking here.

See you next time, unquestionably to discuss narrative ideas for short films.

Short Formats: Music Video

Our last stop before going deep into narrative short films is the music video.

Similar to the viral promos, videoclips are selling something discreetly, but the process to make a music video to work is more aleatory. I mean, it can literally be anything.

A good music video idea doesn’t need to match the desired song like a glove, they mostly don’t, what you must look after is that it ought to correspond to the artist’s image. This is really simple to visualize, let’s start with Radiohead’s House of Cards music video.

It wasn’t even used a camera for it, which means it is totally a videoclip weirdo. And totally fits Radiohead as a band. You can’t visualize Katy Perry with the same music video. This is her California Gurls just in case you need an example:


Yet, usually the concept for a music video comes from a discussion between guys like you and me and the musicians themselves. So if you get an idea for a music video right now you have two choices: Keep it in your closet; Try to sell it to some local band hoping to kick off your videoclip career. It’s not easy to into ths industry, but none of the business we talk here is easy to be part of.

What is interesting about the music videos is that they can be anything. They can tell a little story, like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It can be a shot of your artist’s face singing, like Sinéad O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U. Or even the same basic idea with a twist, as Björk’s All is Full of Love Perhaps just a concept to use as reference, like the grotesque at Nine Inch Nails’ Closer or cop movies as Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. Or it may only be “Christopher Walken dancing” or a bunch of hipsters on treadmills. I could give a thousand examples of how different music video concepts may be between them, but that would only prove that they can be anything as long as it fits the musician/song.

What actually matters is that the music video industry has changed a lot in the past few years, since MTV gave preference to Jersey Shore over videoclips. Nowadays the main vehicle for video clips is the internet and that means everything is valid now when it concerns to format. We just recently had Kanye West’s 34 minutes mini-movie, Runaway, with more than 11-million views on Youtube. This makes runtime not a problem anymore. Then you have Arcade Fire’s We Used to Wait, which uses an HTML5 interactive platform to generate the music video.

It’s a great time for good ideas at music videos. Please yourself.

This is the fourth article of the series Short Formats. You may check the others by clicking here.

Short Formats: Documentaries

I got some spare time in my hands, so i declare this as double-post night! Don’t get used to it.

It’s really hard to define what a documentary is without stepping into a paradox, but i know what it is, you possibly do too, so let’s keep moving to what really matters. However, if you can’t recall what a documentary is, i believe it will be clearer by the end of this article.

Documentaries don’t get born from your imagination, their inspirations are nitid. The best gardens to bloom their concepts are newspapers and your neighborhood. Your surroundings. What you must look after when planning to make a documentary is that you’re picking an recurrent situation that is somewhat unusual among the society patterns. Unless it contrasts with the mediocre, it’s useless. So a documentary about your grandmother is no good unless she collects leather dominatrix tools. This is what distinguishes the documentary from the fiction, because the latter relies in the “Man had an ordinary life UNTIL…“. There’s no UNTIL in the documentary, whenever you introduce your characters you’re also establishing your concept. They come in the same package.

Due to that, documentaries are way ahead the best format to make a character-driven story, since they’re mostly about people.

Peter & Ben is a 10-minutes documentary about a relationship between a guy and his pet sheep. That’s your recurrent situation. When the film crew got at the farm, Peter already had his bond with Ben set up. There’s no way to predict that.

In the other hand, documentaries are allowed to have twists, in the former documentary, the covered window of action is that Peter is leaving Ben to live by himself in a sheep farm. That’s our notorious “why now?” and this is something else that you must look after when developing your doc idea, there must be a reason why are you to be doing this movie today and not tomorrow. It needs that urgency. So, even if your grandma stockpiles whips, you need something more. Let’s say that her granddaughter is expecting a child and doesn’t want to let her cherub play with dildos before thanksgiving, then grandma decides to make a garage sale of all her toys. THAT’s a documentary.

Most of the time the documentary holds itself in the recurrent situation and the punctual event can be discreet in the narrative. The doc endures on its characters, if you have a great character, you’re one step  from a good documentary. You can watch a great documentary with its strength on the main character in Sunshine, by Doug Nichol. Over and above the displacement of the character inside the japanese culture, what really ticks there is John Benet, the american advertising producer.

Documentaries are the portraits of the outsiders.

Even when your subject is an event, like a hurricane which destroyed several houses in a city, it’s part of your duty to find the unique point-of-view to tell your story, otherwise, the spectator won’t find the empathy to your film. It’s important for the public to have this figure to identify themselves, so it’s important to narrow your narrative to a singular perspective. For example, in this destroyed town, someone rebuilds his home using plastic bottles. You won’t be telling the story of this man only, but also of the effects of this major event, which is the hurricane. Say more than what your words actually say.

For example, you have an Intel documentary about this studio and their approach to wedding photographis, Kitty & Lala, 80’s Impression, but that also exposes part of the changes in the japanese culture on marriage the past years.

If you enjoyed Peter & Ben, you should also check Last Minutes with ODEN, by Eliot Rausch. Watching Born into Coal, by Catherine Spangler is also a good option if you have some spare time.

Don’t understimate documentaries. They can still give you the chills

This is the third article of the series Short Formats. You may check the others by clicking here.

Now i’ll get some sleep. See you next time.

Short Formats: Campaign Film

Campaign films have quite the same formula as advertisements, yet, instead of selling a product, they’re spreading consciousness. It’s pretty generic, but that’s not much beyond that. They commonly incite the public into lifestyle changes, often in the environment subject. So, yeah, “message films”.

Foremost, that doesn’t mean that these films are as cliché as those powerpoint presentations you receive from your aunt, nevertheless, just telling people to recycle their garbage simply won’t work. Campaign ideas must be awesome, to say the least, because even if the watcher doesn’t actually has their life changed, he’s going to share it into they social medias and before you noted the shit has gone viral.

The best example is Plastic Bag, by Ramin Bahrani, narrated by our dear Werner Herzog.

This approach is a great example on how a change of point of view can give you a brand-new idea. Besides, you must acknowledge that this is the Isle of Flowers school and that this narrative approach can bring you either a campaign film or a comedy, like Life and Death of a Pumpkin. Plus, it’s a great way to confront the boundaries between fiction and documentary, because the image can be classified, most of the time, as documental, while the narration gives the film its fiction. If you want to check this method at its best, watch Sans Soleil, by Chris Marker.

If you’re a hippie, this is the way to go.

This is the second article of the series Short Formats. You may check the others by clicking here.

See you soon.


Short Formats: Advertising/Promo

With a fabricated idea in your pocket, you must realize where it fits at the short films’ scenario. I must admit, there are plenty of formats to develop your concept accordingly to its potential and aspirations.

I ought to confess also that this series also follows some of the bests short films around the internet, so even if their ideas don’t please you overwhelmingly, you should spend some extra-time checking these features.

Due to the length of these articles, i’ll split them into a limited series of articles, so you better stay around for the remaining.

1. Advertising/Promo

Where the big bucks are. Somehow, every 30-sec ad you watch on TV is a short film. Some of them have a narrative, others are purely visual concept, both grow from the same idea tree and i couldn’t discard the possibility that perhaps you found an awesome way to sell Heinekens. The key to an advertisement short is that it must *suspense theme* advertise! Well, its theme must raise the viewer’s empathy to a specific product and that’s about all your boundaries, since lately there has been barely none timelimit for ads, but they shouldn’t be too long, of course. 30-sec to 3-min range is the most common.

Answer quickly: don’t you wanna buy an Intel right now? Despite that, sometimes the film doesn’t even need the brand on it, this way some great ideas find their spaces at viral promos. These films usually expose the potential of a product or a company by directly showing its capabilities. You may find several SFX companies using those to beat the drum for their job. It’s surely better than a PDF portfolio. This kind of advertising has also delivered the Nokia series of stop motions: Dot & Gulp. However, you can feel the advertising in those commercials. Now try on this one:

Nah, you won’t find the Philips logo there. It’s a viral for Philips flat screen. But possibly somewhere, a Don Draper wannabe is shouting: Let’s gestalt these bitches!

Also Check: Dulux: Let’s Colour Project; Chrysler: Imported from Detroit; Plot Device.

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