The Rules

Contact Info:

The Goal: Write, shoot and edit a short film in a weekend. With teamwork and complete focus you can make a cohesive and entertaining movie in an exceptionally short time frame.

The following rules apply to each participating team:


Contest Duration:

The 50 Hour Film Contest will always occur between a Friday and the following Monday.

The prompt for the contest will be posted to this website around 2:30pm the Friday of the contest weekend.

Participants may not make any creative changes to their films after Midnight the Sunday of the contest but participants may export and upload the film on Monday. Films should be uploaded to and submitted no later than the Monday night of the contest. 

Registration: The Registration form is open until the final Sunday of the contest weekend. It is highly suggested that you register your team before the weekend of the event. Registration of a team is free if you fail to complete a film no payment is involved.

The current submission fee is $25 per film entered. Payment is made with paypal on submission of the film or can accompany the film and release forms if mailed in (checks made out to Tom Preska).  This fee covers the cost of trophies, the costs for running the contest and the hosting costs of this website. This fee can be waived if your team has financial concerns please email with any issues you may have. 

2. Content Creation

All footage must be shot within the weekend time period of the project- Friday at 2:30 p.m. local time and ending midnight Sunday. No stock footage or footage shot or created at another time may be used. Stock animated special effects are permitted  (action essentials, flames, fog etc). Animated or still Film Team Logos are exempt from this rule and can be created at any time. Standard rolling ending credits can also be be premade. 

During the official competition period, all creation will take place, including but not limited to:

* Writing the script
* Rehearsing
* Costume/Set Design
* Shooting
* Editing
* Graphics & Visual Effects
* Sound Editing

The only work to begin prior to the official competition period is:

* Organizing Crew
* Organizing Cast
* Securing Equipment
* Scouting/Securing Locations
* Securing Music and/or Rights from Artists or Creating Your Own Musical Compositions for use.
* Designing a Film Team Logo
* Ending credits
Participating group must have the rights to any music used in its film.

Groups are encouraged to work with local composer and/or musicians to write and record music for the films. It is permissible for a participating group to use pre-recorded music (e.g., royalty-free music, a friend’s band) but the group must have a signed release or email permitting music use. Films may be disqualified from judging and not displayed on the website for using copyrighted music with out permission of the owners. Please include the source of the music in the final credits.

Content of the movie/film/video has to be appropriate for public viewing. Excessive graphic violence, nudity, racism and/or multiple obscenities will disqualify your film. If your film is ruled to be obscene or indecent it will not be shown on awards night. Use the guidelines of what would be appropriate for network broadcast TV as your guide.

3. Formatting

Intro slate

Your film should start with 5 seconds of black, No intro slate required though animated team logo are always welcomed and encouraged. This animated team logo as previously mentioned can be created outside of the contest hours.

Running Time

The finished film must be a minimum of four (4) minutes in duration, and a maximum of ten ( 10 ) minutes in duration. This does not include ending credits ( 1 minute max). If your entire film and ending credits are longer than 11 minutes you should tighten your edit before submitting.

Exit Slate

Films must include the following credit: “This film made as part of the 50 Hour Film Contest.” as the last title slate of the film. The Team Name should be present in ether the credits or in the opening credits/title sequence.

Format and Compression

You are encouraged to use the highest quality and largest format available to you. We are now going directly digital to the theater so we can handle and prefer a high quality HD (720p or 1080p) file uploaded to Vimeo.

Please follow the Vimeo compression guidelines located HERE. If you upload a 720p video to Vimeo with 5-6kbps compression you will  be under the 500mb limit for 10 minutes. No need to buy a Plus account to fit your movie.

If you have an issue submitting to Vimeo we will still take a file that is formatted with the same compression as suggested in the vimeo guidelines. All of the work whether submitted by flash drive etc will be uploaded to Vimeo. We can also take files by dropbox or wetransfer etc.

The original video file must be made available for download on Vimeo (the default vimeo setting).

4. Submission Details

The finished project must be uploaded to by the following Monday of the contest weekend. The submission form will have a field for the URL of your film. It is located here  Please remember to include the link to your film in the submission form.

At the earliest possible convenience and before the premiere night please submit  your Talent, Location and Music Release forms along with your entry fee.  The film will not be eligible for awards/viewing until the organizers receive the signed releases.They should be mailed to:

attn: Tom Preska Essex High School 2 Educational Drive Essex Junction VT 05452

If you are submitting your film on flash media by mail please email the Monday of the contest letting me know that it is coming in the mail. Use the above address to send it in and it should be postmarked the Monday of the contest.

5. Participants

The 50 Hour Film Contest is open to filmmakers enrolled in any Public or Private VT and NY High or Middle School (other states are welcome just email first). Actors and musicians can be of any age. But the primaries responsible for writing, editing and the cinematography of the film must be enrolled in grades 6-12.

Using Adults

All cast and crew must be volunteers. Adults can be used in the films but not be hired actors or actresses.

An Adult Group Member or Teacher May:

* Supply equipment (cameras,lights,editing stations,tripods etc)
* Help with equipment based problems (capturing issues, exporting problems, computer crashes)
* Act in the film
* Provide access to school facilities for editing/filming
* Act as a grip if they are under complete direction of a high school age member of the production team and offer no creative or technical input to the team (ie. running electrical cables, driving a car that is being shot from etc.)
* Run more advanced equipment if needed (drones, mechanicals etc) under the direction of a high school aged director.


An Adult Group Member or Teacher MAY NOT:

* Edit/suggest editing strategies for a 50hr film
* Suggest filming strategies/shots for a 50hr film
* Suggest screenplay ideas or help write a screenplay for a 50hr film
* Suggest/setup lighting for scenes in a 50hr film
* Operate a camera or work in the production crew in any way unless meeting the requirements listed above.
* Help with the implementation of the prompt in the 50 hour film besides the aforementioned roles.

This is a contest that judges the film-making ability of high school students, not for their teachers, mentors or parents. If your team is found to have been unfairly helped your film may be disqualified from judging/viewing.

6. Prompt Requirements

On the contest Friday at around 2:30p.m. the prompt will be posted to the front page of this website.

The prompt will contain a genre, a character, prop and dialogue that are required to appear in your film.

To qualify as an official “50 Hour Film ” each group’s film must be completed in the genre listed in the prompt and must contain all required elements listed in the prompt.

If your film does not implement the required elements your film will have points deducted by the judges.

If your film poorly integrates the character, lines or the prop into the film points may be deducted from your screenplay score. If you fail to include a required element (ex. the prop, not using ANY of the lines of dialogue, or the character)  your film will be disqualified from judging.

7. Judging

To be certified as a “50 Hour Film”, each participating group’s film/video production must follow all rules posted above. The 50 Hour Film Contest Organizers reserve the right to judge only films that adhere to the rules and are therefore certified “50 Hour Films.”

All certified “50 Hour Films” are eligible for judging. A panel of independent judges will rate the films based on their merits in screenplay, cinematography, sound, art design and editing. One film will be chosen as the best film of the contest. There will also be awards for best screenplay, best cinematography, best sound and best editing. The top film is not eligible to win multiple awards but will have received the highest overall score. The 2nd through 5th films will be placed into categories that best fit their scores.

The Organizers reserve the right to amend the rules of the contest up until the Friday of the contest weekend.

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