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'Phone it in' film challenge 2021


  • Teams must complete a film over the course of one month. The maximum amount of team members is 5. That includes cast and crew, etc. Not 5 cast and 5 crew. Teams with fewer members are encouraged to participate.
  • The team must write, shoot and edit their film in February, the shortest month of the year. Registration runs throughout January and February with final submission of Feb. 28, 2021.
  • The narrative theme is "A Day in the Life"
  • Your team must use a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) to shoot it on – no DSLRs, no video cams, etc. They can use whatever other tools, gadgets and software you choose. 
  • One teammate must be a VPA member. 
  • Has to be shot in Virginia.

Sign your team up HERE!

Screenings: All submissions will be screened in a once-per-week Zoom event starting in March. The screenings will be split up by genre.

Awards: $500 Grand Jury prize; $250 for First Runner Up; $100 for Audience Favorite; $50 each for Best Actor/Actress; Other recognition provided as the jury sees fit (best cinematography, best sound, best writing, etc). 

Sponsored by the Virginia Film Office


1.   Original Work.

All submissions should be the original work of the filmmakers and have all the necessary rights and clearances to the story being told. All footage and content must have been created during the competition except for music and sound effects, which may be licensed. No stock or previously-shot footage allowed.

2.   Format. 
a.   Short films must be submitted electronically with a Google Drive/Dropbox link to be downloaded. 
b.   Since these films are being screened online, the final file must be sent as 720p resolution to the organizers to stream properly. However, teams may shoot in whatever resolution suitable.
c.    You may shoot in either horizontal, square or vertical video, however the submission must be able to screen horizontally. If vertical or square, fill the space on the sides with a black background.

3.   Distribution. 

We encourage filmmakers to consider submitting their final project to non-VPA contests, however it is forbidden to screen the eligible work prior to the scheduled awards ceremony.

4.   Geography. 

The project must be filmed in Virginia during the allotted time period. The location(s) will be processed during the final submission application.

5.    Age of filmmaker. 

Filmmakers of all ages are permitted to submit. However, filmmakers under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present during the filming and screening.

6.    Length of film. 

To allow for the most films to be programmed, we ask that submission runs no shorter than 5 minutes and no longer than 10 minutes, including credits.

7.    Registration.

Registration is free for VPA members, thus one of the team’s filmmakers (producer, director, writer, etc.) must be a current Virginia Production Alliance member to register the team. Membership will be verified upon registration. Register your team HERE.

8.    Categories.

When submitting a film, you will be asked to identify the genre, or category that best represents the project: 

a.    Action/Adventure. Films with high-energy sequences, such as fights, combat, chases, rescues, and so on. 

b.    Comedy. Typically light-hearted fare, designed to amuse and make you laugh by exaggerating the situation, action, characters, etc. 

c.     Drama. Serious, plot-driven stories with realistic characters, settings, life situations and storylines involving character development and interaction.

d.    Horror/Suspense. Stories made to frighten or probe an audience’s fears, often with a terrifying conclusion, while captivating and entertaining. 

e.    Science-Fiction. Imaginative and visionary, these stories include improbable settings, be it the future, outer space, another planet, etc.

f.     Documentary. Dealing in real subjects with real people, a documentary is a partially dramatized telling of the story.

g.  Experimental. These can be artistic, silent, or other films that do not fall into one of the categories listed above.

9.    Content. 
While films will not be judged on message or content, films containing excessively violent content, depictions of rape or incest, or material that is deemed pornographic by the jury, will not be accepted into the competition.
10. Completed films. 
The competition will accept incomplete films, however note that the judges’ score will reflect what is submitted by the deadline. It is at the discretion of the jury to screen incomplete submissions.
11. Enter as many films as you wish, however realize that quantity does not equal quality. We’re giving you an entire month to submit the best short possible.
12. Language. 
Films can be in any language however English subtitles are required. 
13. Copyrighted material. 
It is the responsibility of the filmmaker to secure authorization for any copyrighted material, logos, music, and so on. Filmmaker should be prepared to submit receipts, permissions, releases, or clearances. Submissions without these elements may be disqualified.
14. Screening. 
Accepted films will be grouped by genre as best as possible, taking into account the puzzle-piecing of various runtimes. Considerations will be made for production value, including sound, lighting and camera work that does not induce nausea or seizures. VPA members will receive free online admission to the screenings. Non-VPA members will pay a small fee ($5) for access to each weekly event.
15. Slate.
Your film must have the following phrase either at the beginning or end of the credits: “Proudly made during the Virginia Production Alliance Filmmaking Competition, February 2021” with the VPA logo.
16. Disqualification. 

Any film submission that violates the terms of this agreement may be disqualified without refund.


When you're ready to submit, a Google Form will ask for the following: 

1.    A link to download your film, and the password, if necessary. We will not accept physical submissions.

2.    Name(s) of the filmmaker(s). The VPA member(s) must submit on behalf of the team to verify membership to the competition.

3.    Film title and length. Films can be no shorter than 5 minutes and no longer than 10 minutes, including credits.

4.    The genre and logline of the film. Each submission must have one of the genres listed above (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Horror/Suspense, etc.) As far as loglines, here’s a definition from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat: “A logline is a one or two-sentence description of your movie that tells us what it is. It must contain a type of hero [the type of person plus an adjective describing them], an antagonist [same], and the hero’s primal goal.”

5.    Dates and filming locations. Tell us where you shot the film and when.

6.    A Behind-the-Scenes photo of your mobile device being used as a camera to verify the first shoot date. By registering your team, you give permission to the VPA full rights for use on its website, social media and other mediums.

Virginia Production Alliance
P.O. Box 7419, Richmond, VA 23221

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