The Rules

Please Read Carefully


  • The entrance fee is $60 until one week prior to the contest date and then $80 until the contest.
  • Teams are given 54 hours (from the end of the Inception meeting till Drop-Off) to script, shoot, and edit their 4-7* minute short film. 2-5* Minutes for Middle TN.
  • At the Inception meeting, teams will be given their genre (only Middle TN) and three elements: an action, prop, and line of dialogue.  These elements must be used in the team’s short film.  Failure to do so will lead to disqualification from awards.
  • 24 hours into the competition, teams will receive a call or email from the "executive producer" who will ask them to add in a 4th element.  Failure to add in this element will only disqualify the short from receiving the "Curve Ball" award.
  • Only one representative from each team (the Team Leader) needs to be at the Inception meeting, though more are welcome to come.
  • All content for your film must be created during the 54 hours of competition. Stock footage is acceptable so long as it is royalty free and not created for the contest specifically.
  • All content must be suitable for a PG-13 rating.  No nudity, excessive vulgarity, or excessive gore.  If you have a question about specific content, contact a 54 Film Fest representative about it.
  • A 54 Film Fest representative will be at the Drop-Off two hours before competition end (10pm till Midnight).
  • Late turn-ins will be accepted and screened, but will be disqualified for all awards.
  • No talent or crew member may be paid.  You can still buy them food!


  • Films should be turned in as digital files (it will be screened in the same resolution you turn it in as).
  • Apple ProRes preferred, but all files compatible with Compressor are accepted.
  • 23.976 or true 24 FPS is necessary for DCP playback at the theater. Do not use 29.976 or PAL 25fps, or jittering will occur.
  • Do not submit interlaced films.  A progressive scan is necessary, or oddities will occur upon playback.
  • Flash drives preferred, but DVDs and other storage devices are accepted. *Middle TN will only accept upload via to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.*
  • It is a good idea to turn in two copies--a primary and a back up--of your film.
  • Teams can have +30 seconds of credits for a maximum length of 7:30, or 5:30 for Middle TN.

Production Materials

  • All release forms must be filled out completely and turned in at the Drop-Off with your film or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with city and team name. 
  • The Team Leader Agreement must be turned in at the Inception Meeting.
  • Only use original material, or material you have permission to use.  If the copyright is in question, a 54 Film Fest representative will contact you regarding the issue.
  • Use of copyright material without permission is grounds for disqualification from the screening and awards.


  • The screening will be at a local theater; specifics can be found on the homepage of each city.
  • Tickets will be available to purchase online or at the screening.
  • Team leaders will receive one free ticket.


The following individual categories will be judged by industry professionals:

  • Best Directing
  • Best Editing
  • Best Sound Track
  • Best Audio Mix
  • Best Production Design
  • Best Wardrobe
  • Best Make-Up
  • Best Special Effects
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Writing
  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Child Actor
  • Best Child Actress

The following will be judged by 54 Film Fest:

  • Best Use of Action
  • Best Use of Prop
  • Best Use of Dialogue
  • The Curve Ball Award

Element Rules and Explanations

Prop: A prop is an item that significantly influences the story, which is usually used by a character. If a prop is simply used as a set dressing, without significant influence on the story, teams will risk an easily avoidable disqualification.

Line: The line must be read exactly as presented by 54 Film Fest corporate (city producer and/or facebook page official posting). Pronouns may be swapped out ('it', 'he', 'she' etc.)

Action: The action must be clearly visible on camera, and is flexible within reason. 

All films will be screened in private before a diverse audience prior to the Screening.  This audience will judge the Best Film based on entertainment value alone.

Award Ceremony

The award ceremony will follow the Screening.