It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter where you're from. It doesn't matter what you look like.

Or if you're a novice. Or a professional.

Or a dreamer.

Or if you've never even THOUGHT about making a short film for a festival!

You can (and should!) make a film, and submit it to the Big Mountain Short Film Festival. Why? Because we're incredibly filmmaker-friendly, and we WANT you to do well. Plus, it's easy!


  • 2 DVD copies of your film (test them to make sure they work!)
    • include source files (high resolution versions of your film)
    • include publicity still photos
    • include complete credits and budget in a text file
    • We project 16x9 -- if your film is 4x3, we will letterbox it, but if you are supplying a 16x9 film, please indicate whether it is letterbox or anamorphic
    • Ensure that your entire submission fits into a STANDARD-SIZED DVD case
  • One completed entry form (everything must be filled out!)

That's it! Then simply follow the steps below to submit your film!


STEP 1: Determine which program -- A or B?

The first step is to determine which Program your film is eligible for:

All short films made for over $1000. Maximum running time is 10 minutes. You MUST enter under Program A if:

  • You've shot on film or professional video equipment
  • You've hired (or borrowed) professional equipment, including professional lighting, editing services, music, actors, locations, sound effects, etc., even if those services were unpaid
  • Your project could in any way be classified as professional (for example, professional filmmakers worked on it in their normal capacity, etc)
  • You spent more than $1000 on any aspect of production (even if your project was shot on consumer grade video)
  • You've had any funding from any government or industry source
  • Or if your film runs more than 5 minutes!

All short films made for under $1000. Maximum running time is 5 minutes. Films are eligible for Program B if:

  • You've shot on consumer or prosumer grade video equipment
  • You've edited on a home computer

    NOTE: The cost of the video camera, home computer, and video tape stock are NOT counted toward your project's budget cost.

We understand that the "cost" of a short film can be pretty subjective. You got some things for free through your own creativity and imagination -- do you count that as part of your cost? No. UNLESS you got so much stuff for free, that you basically made a professional-level short film.

Be true to the spirit of the competition.

When in doubt (if none of the checklist items under Program A apply to your film), submit your film for Program B. Any films that appear to be professionally-produced may be reclassified under Program A.


STEP 2: Make Sure It's Yours!

If you're making your first low-budget (or no-budget) film, you might not be aware of the fact that you need to have the rights to everything in your film. If you don't, we can't show it at the festival, and we certainly can't release it on DVD or put it on television later.

So here's a quick list of things that must be yours:


Unfortunately, you can't just pull a song off a CD or the internet (you don't do that anyway, right?!) and put it in your film. You can't use it as the underscore... but you also can't even use it as a song playing on the radio (even if it was at the time you were shooting)! If you were filming somewhere and there was music coming over a speaker, if we can hear that in your film, you need permission to use it! And you can't have a character hum it or sing it, either. Film music is a very tricky legal minefield, and beginning filmmakers get caught out all the time. You best bet is to use original music only. Get a friend who makes music to record something for you. And then get permission to use it "in all media throughout the universe in perpetuity". (You never know when you might want to screen your film on Mars.)


You absolutely MUST have permission from ANYONE who appears onscreen in your film. That means your main actors (even if they're just people and not really actors). That means the strangers walking down the street in the background (if we can see their faces). That means the guy who screams at you to stop filming, and who you've included in your film just get back at him. Sorry. But anyone whose face or "likeness" we see has to give you permission. If they don't, we can't use it.


Did you run around shooting at Sky City or the Beehive? Did security have to chase you out, and tell you not to film in there? Well, guess what? You can't use that footage. (Or, more accurately, YOU can, but WE can't!) Make sure you've been given permission to use all the locations in your film. If it's a wide shot of a city street, you probably don't need permission, but if it's a shot that features a building, you should probably ask the owner. Tell them you're making a "No-budget" short film for Big Mountain. We're pretty sure they'll go easy on you. Heck, why not offer to put their name in the credits? Who doesn't want to see their name in lights?


You know that scene in your film where the guy stares at that Picasso painting and discovers the secret to life? Well, guess what? That Picasso is copyright -- which means you can't copy it in your film without permission. Good luck getting those rights! It's better to either create a piece of art to feature in your story, or use a local artist's work who WILL give you permission. Watch out for posters, books and CDs, too. If the artwork is incidental in the background (nobody's directly interacting with it), you'll probably be okay. But for anything that's featured (the characters look at it or hold it or talk about it), you must have permission to use it.

HERE'S A LOW-BUDGET FILMMAKING TIP: Tell people you're making a short film for practice to see if you can get into a festival, and ask if you can use their location, or their face, or their music or whatever. Ask them while you're videotaping them, and when they say Yes, you've got proof of their permission!

Overall, remember that most people are quite happy to give you permission to use their stuff in a short film, as long as you treat them (and their place or their stuff) with respect. And don't break anything. A good filmmaker leaves a good impression, so that he can come back and use that stuff again.


STEP 3: Prepare Your Film Properly

We receive short film submissions from around the world. And we will be using a digital projection system at the festival. So we need you to pay attention here:

Films must be submitted on DVD in a screenable format.
What does that mean? It means send in a good quality DVD copy.

  • You may submit in PAL or NTSC video format.
  • Please indicate whether it's Letterbox or Anamorphic.
  • You must send in TWO (2) copies of your DVD, and BOTH MUST WORK. If we can't play your DVD, we can't consider your film!
  • When you burn your DVD, be sure your DVD is set to "All Regions" or "Region 0".
  • We can accept any DVD format, but prefer DVD-R if possible.
  • Every short film you submit MUST be on a separate DVD. Do NOT include multiple short films on the same DVD.
  • Include the QuickTime, AVI or similar format high-resolution of the film on the DVD! (If you don't have a high resolution file of your film, please include the film on mini-DV with your submission!)

Content limitations:

  • Short films must be no more than 4 years old.
  • Our films will be played to a mainstream audience. We will consider all films submitted, but preference will be given to shorts which would attract an M rating from the Censorship Office.
  • We will not consider libelous, slanderous, racist or otherwise offensive content. Tell a good story about interesting characters. Be funny or serious, creative and imaginative, wild, "out there", simple, honest, whatever. Just remember that people will be watching it.
  • We cannot screen short films that have exclusivity agreements with other distributors or festivals. We're happy to screen a short film that has been shown in another festival -- or even won it! -- but please ensure that you have the right to show it elsewhere.

And here's good news for filmmakers:

  • We WILL accept films that have screened elsewhere
  • We WILL accept films that have WON other festivals
  • We WILL accept films that are currently available on the internet
    ...provided they meet the above requirements!
    How good is that?!

Easy enough? Great! Then it's time to burn your DVD, and send it in!


STEP 4: Send it in!

DVDs submitted to the Big Mountain Short Film Festival cannot be returned, so make sure you submit the following:

  • 2 DVD copies of your film (test them to make sure they work!)
    • include source files (high resolution versions of your film)
    • include publicity still photos
    • include complete credits and budget in a text file
    • We project 16x9 -- if your film is 4x3, we will letterbox it, but if you are supplying a 16x9 film, please indicate whether it is letterbox or anamorphic
    • Ensure that your entire submission fits into a STANDARD-SIZED DVD case
  • One completed entry form (everything must be filled out!)


Be sure to pack it so that your DVDs won't get damaged. Any damaged DVDs will not be reviewed, and we cannot notify you, either.


Big Mountain Short Film Festival Ltd
"Submissions Dept"
PO Box 221
New Zealand

(Send via normal post only. We cannot accept courier deliveries or any submssion requiring a signature. FedEx, UPS, DHL etc will be returned.)

Your entry must be received by THE CUTOFF DATES! No exceptions! (We have a lot of work to do reviewing short films, and preparing the festival, so we cannot consider late entries under any circumstances.)

Finalists will be notified by late-September, and we do need you to understand that all decisions are final, and at the sole discretion of the selection committee of the Big Mountain Short Film Festival. We want to screen as many fantastic short films from emerging filmmakers as possible -- so don't be shy! Submit a film, and we hope you'll be a part of this exciting new festival!

If you have any questions, email us on!

Can't wait to see your film!