Shorts Challenge

Shorts Challenge Theme

The overall theme for the 2024 Annapolis Film Festival is OUT OF THE BOX. We are applying this to our Shorts Challenge theme as we are looking for new ways of storytelling that are “outside the box” when applied to the concept, the storytelling, the technical presentation, or just a moment in the film that sets it apart from expectations. This does not mean we are looking for experimental films as we are still looking for live-action narrative or documentary films. The previous themes for the Shorts Challenge were more specific or niche; this year seeks to broaden the theme and allow for more freedom to explore the many possibilities of filmmaking and storytelling.

We hope this theme sparks your imagination and inspires you to show off your originality. Please let us know if you have a story that is “outside the box”.

How to Apply

Please submit the following information via email to

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 23, 2024

1) A Synopsis of your short film concept that meets this theme. No more than one page is advised. Both narrative and documentary concepts are accepted but no animation.

2) A Photo Deck of prospective film characters or subjects and/or a written description of the main ones. Video clips allowed, but not required.

3) A Short Preliminary Budget

4) A Personal Bio/Resume

The Prize

The five finalists will be given one round-trip ticket to the festival (if not from the area), one hotel room for up to four nights (if not from the area), an All-Access pass to the festival, and a chance to win the video, sound and post package which includes:

1) Sound Design, Foley, Audio Mix from Baltimore's Studio Unknown OR Sound Department in Los Angeles, CA. (specific time and availability parameters apply)

2) A Lighting Package from Serious Grip and Electric (near Baltimore - Shipping & insurance costs covered by filmmaker, 7 days includes shipping)

3) A Camera and sound rental package from a Baltimore or D.C. based company (7 day camera rental - Shipping & insurance costs covered by filmmaker, 7 days includes shipping)

4) Post-Production Online Package near D.C. (specific time and availability parameters apply)

This is valued at approximately $30k in goods and services!

The Selection Process

All proposals will be reviewed by a selected group of industry professionals. Five film projects will be chosen for a live pitch session during the 12th Annual Annapolis Film Festival, April 4 - 7, 2024, to be held in front of a festival audience. The notification date will be February 26, 2024.
If selected, Filmmakers will have five to seven minutes to pitch their stories and show short clips (if available, not mandatory) of their concept to a panel of industry judges on the stage who will critique the pitches in front of the audience. After all the pitches are completed, the audience will vote. The combined vote of the judges, curators, and audience will determine the award-winner, which will be announced at the Saturday Bash and again at the Best of Fest on Sunday.

The Premiere

The short film will premiere at the Annapolis Film Festival in 2025. However, we will review the film as it is being made and it will have to meet our usual standards for final acceptance. If the film should be invited to screen at another festival first, the filmmaker should get permission from the Annapolis Film Festival in advance. We will determine, on a case-by-case basis, if the film can be screened at another festival first.

The submission deadline is Friday, February 23, 2024. The 12th annual Annapolis Film Festival will take place from April 4-7, 2024.

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