Nashville Film Festival – October 1-7, 2020!
The Nashville Film Festival delivers hundreds of the world’s best new films screening with filmmaker Q&As, panels and more. Special events, receptions and parties will be hosted on-site and at some of Nashville’s most popular venues.
The Nashville Film Festival is designed to be enjoyable for everyone! If you are a film festival veteran, or first-time festival goer, NashFilm staff is dedicated to providing you with an amazing and rewarding cinematic experience. The expert programming of over 200+ films provides a diverse slate of informative, inspiring and entertaining content for everyone.
We remain committed to producing a safe and enjoyable 51st annual Nashville Film Festival while discovering, elevating and honoring independent filmmakers and screenwriters.
2020 Festival Info for Filmmakers and Screenwriters
The 51st Annual Nashville Film Festival dates will take place Oct. 1-7, 2020. Entries for the festival are open January 3, 2020. Entry deadlines for all film, episodic and screenplay competitions are as follows:
Earlybird Deadline: March 27, 2020
Regular Deadline: May 22, 2020
Late Deadline: June 19, 2020
Extended (FINAL) Deadline: June 26, 2020
Narrative Feature Competition:
10 films will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
Documentary Feature Competition:
Documentaries about music or musicians should enter the Music Films/Music City Competition. 10 non-fiction films will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
Music Films/Music City Feature Competition:
10 non-fiction films about music, musicians or the impact of music will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize.
New Directors Feature Competition:
6 films by first time feature fiction filmmakers will be selected to compete for the Grand Jury Prize. Please note that this is for first-time NARRATIVE features, not documentaries.
Graveyard Shift Feature Competition:
4 films will be selected to compete in this category for the best in “genre cinema.” This category includes horror, sci-fi, action and films that are generally over-the-top, shocking and strange.
Animated Feature Competition:
At least 3 Animated Feature Films will be selected for competition. To qualify for this category a minimum of 75% of the film’s running time must be animated.
Tennessee Feature Competition:
The Tennessee First Competition is open to feature films (over 40 minutes) that meet two of the three following criteria: 1 – The Director is a Tennessee Resident 2 – The Producer or Screenwriter is a Tennessee Resident 3 – At least 65% of the film is shot in Tennessee. Films submitted in this category MUST be Tennessee Premieres. STRONG preference will be given to World Premieres.
Narrative Shorts Competition:
International competition for Live Action narrative films under 40 minutes in length. The Grand Jury Prize-winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Animated Shorts Competition:
International competition for animated films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Documentary Shorts Competition:
International competition for non-fiction films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film will be eligible for Academy Award™ consideration, assuming it meets all other eligibility requirements.
Experimental Shorts Competition:
International competition for experimental non-narrative films under 40 minutes in length. The winning film receives a $500 cash prize.
Graveyard Shift Shorts Competition:
International competition for live action or animated horror, sci-fi, shocking and otherwise offensive, over-the-top films under 40 minutes in length.
Tennessee Shorts Competition:
Students in Tennessee colleges and universities should enter the Tennessee Student Shorts Competition. A competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length that meet at least two of the three following criteria: 1 – The Director is a Tennessee Resident 2 – The Producer or Screenwriter is a Tennessee Resident 3 – At least 65% of the film is shot in Tennessee. In order to be eligible for prizes, the film MUST make its Middle Tennessee Premiere at the 2020 Nashville Film Festival. Films that have shown in Middle Tennessee may be selected for screening, they would, however, not be in competition. STRONG preference will be given to films making their World Premiere. Selected films are also eligible in their overall category. For instance, if your Tennessee short documentary is selected, you are eligible for this prize AND the prize for Best Documentary Short.
An international Junior and Senior division competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length created by student filmmakers. PROOF OF STUDENT STATUS REQUIRED.
- Junior Division – An international competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length created by filmmakers aged 18 and under. PROOF OF AGE IS REQUIRED. Films submitted without proof of age will be moved to another appropriate category. The winning filmmaker receives a $500 cash prize.
- Senior Division – An international competition for college student (undergraduate or graduate) STUDENT ID REQUIRED narrative, non-fiction and animated films under 40 minutes in length. (Students at Tennessee Colleges or Universities should enter TN First Student Shorts.) The winning film receives a $500 cash prize.
Tennessee Student Shorts Competition:
PROOF OF STUDENT STATUS REQUIRED. A competition for narrative, non-fiction and animated student films under 40 minutes in length made by students at a Tennessee college or university. In order to be eligible for prizes, the film MUST NOT have screened theatrically or at a festival in Middle Tennessee prior to the 2020 Nashville Film Festival. Films that have shown may be selected for screening, they would, however, not be in competition. This does not apply to school screenings in an on-campus theater. Selected films will also be eligible in their overall category. For instance, if your Tennessee student short documentary is selected, you are eligible for this prize, the College Student prize AND the prize for Best Documentary Short.
Episodic Competition – Pilots:
A competition for material created for any medium including television, streaming and internet. The pilot must not have been aired in the US and must not be published on the internet at the time of the 2020 Nashville Film Festival. It must be intended to be serialized. Submissions must be a single episode (even if additional episodes have been created) and must be under 60 minutes in length.
Episodic Competition – Series:
A competition for material created for any medium including television, streaming and internet. The maximum runtime of the submission is 180 minutes AND a maximum of three episodes may be submitted. Materials should not have been published or aired prior to January 1, 2019 and should be currently airing and/or in production.
Virtual Reality & 360 Film Competition:
One of the first film festival VR-AR competitions, accepting entries from all across the globe for 360 film, VR experiences, and more!
— Competition is open to U.S. and International entries. Please check individual categories for additional requirements.
— Feature films are 40 minutes in length or longer. Short films are under 40 minutes in length.
— Films not in the English language must be subtitled in English.
— Films that have shown theatrically or been broadcast on television in Tennessee prior to the Festival or are available on DVD or VOD are not eligible for competition.
— Entries must not have premiered to the public before January 1, 2019.
— Entries must be submitted for pre-screening on Vimeo or YouTube link. If you use a secured link, you are REQUIRED to keep us updated with passwords or your film may be rejected. NO HARD COPIES WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ENTRIES.
— Works-in-progress are accepted but are not encouraged. We can’t promise that we will be able to watch re-edited submissions. Please only submit work-in-progress if you are submitting close to final deadline.
— You may submit multiple entries but must fill out a separate entry form and pay an entry fee for each.
ALL OF THE FOLLOWING MUST ACCOMPANY YOUR ENTRY:
— Entry fee (must be paid online).
–3-Line Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)
–FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS: 250 Word Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)
–COLLEGE STUDENTS: Include proof of student status at the time of production. (Copy of student ID or transcript.)
–YOUNG FILMMAKERS: Include a copy of your state or student id verifying your age at the time of completion of the film. You may submit a letter from a teacher if you do not have photo ID.
–TENNESSEE RESIDENTS: Include proof of residence or proof that the entry was shot predominantly in the state of Tennessee.
Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants in July, 2020.
–One Grand Jury Prize will be given in each of the submission categories. Each winner is adjudicated by three jury members.
2020 SCREENPLAY COMPETITION
Shorts can be from 1 page to 40 pages in length. No scripts over 40 pages will be considered. Short subject scripts can be traditional narratives with a beginning, middle, and end or more experimental in nature. Historically, traditional narratives have the most success. Keep in mind that the best short scripts can be produced. This means that they have a reasonable budget. Some of the biggest competitions, such as Cannes restrict the running length to 15 minutes including credits. This translates to 12-13 pages. Page lengths do not include the title page.
Feature scripts can be 85 to 110 pages in length. No scripts under 70 pages or over 120 pages will be considered for the feature competition.
Pilot scripts can range from 35 to 75 pages depending on whether they are half-hour or hour length format. The longer length scripts should include act breaks. No pilot scripts under 25 pages or over 75 pages will be considered for the pilot competition.
SUBCATEGORIES (FEATURES ONLY)
Comedy. This includes blended genres, such as action-comedy or dramedy. If you script is intended to make people laugh as it’s primary element, it will compete best as a comedy. Examples of comedy scripts: Bridesmaids, Stuber, Blockers, Shaun of the Dead, Bad Boys.
Drama. These are scripts that primarily aim to tell a serious story. Parts of it may contain humor or other genre-related elements, but the main thrust is dramatic tension during the hero’s journey. Example of drama scripts: Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight, Roma, Hidden Figures.
Horror. This includes blended genres like horror-thriller or any other blend except comedy. The primary aim of a horror is to entertain the audience through tapping into their fears. Examples of horror scripts: Us, Child’s Play, A Quiet Place, Crawl.
Genre. These include films that are not included in any of the above primary genres. Films that would compete best in genre would include fantasy, science fiction, action, mystery, adventure, family, animation, musical, historical, Western, mockumentary, or any blended genres that are not included in the three main categories above, such as action-adventure. Examples of genre scripts: John Wick, Captain Marvel, The Hateful Eight, Toy Story, Star Wars, Lala Land.
Genre scripts are also invited to enter the genre specific-prize category. While all scripts will be considered together in genre for quarterfinal, semifinal and finalist announcements, only scripts that also enter the genre-specific element will be considered for recognition in that category.
Diversity. This category is for writers with an under-represented voice in the marketplace telling the stories of under-represented or marginalized people. Diversity entries can be for any of the categories above. The highest rated scripts will move forward in the competition for award under this category. Diversity scripts can also be entered in any of the main categories for consideration. Our finalists last year represented a very diverse set of voices, but this category ensures that there is a diverse winner. There is also a discounted rate for this category.
Additional Recognition Categories
Genre writers can also choose to enter their scripts for recognition for their specific genre. This is an add-on recognition and does not disqualify the script from winning the category. Instead, it allows for excellence in these specific categories to be acknowledged.
Genre specific add-ons include: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, Historical and Tennessee Writer. This is an add-on recognition for any writer that is a native of TN or currently resides in the state. Writers may submit to any of the categories and choose this additional designation to compete with other Tennessee writers for this honor. It does not disqualify any entrant from winning any other category.
For example, a TN writer who chooses this designation could potential be honored as best TN writer, best science fiction screenplay and win the genre category.
Tennessee writers will also receive a discounted submission rate.
Every script will be read by trained readers supervised by the competition manager. The highest scoring scripts will advance to the quarterfinals. At the quarterfinal level, all scripts will be carefully reviewed for inclusion in the semifinals. Semifinalist scripts will be scored based on their potential for production. Those scripts that have the most potential will advance to the finals round where a winner for each category will be selected by our all industry jurors. The industry panel includes proven filmmakers, active producers, and top-level management companies. The specific jurors approached may change from year-to-year to reflect the scripts we have received, resulting in a better overall opportunity for everyone involved.
Finalists from previous seasons have been staffed on shows, had pilots/series picked up for production, found/been offered management, and received funding/press for feature films they plan to direct or produce.
Screenplay Contest FAQs
Originality: Original work only. No adaptations, unless you are the writer of the material from which the script was adapted. This includes scripts that tell the life story of persons who may have the right of publicity to their own life, including celebrities, historical figures, etc. The property must be available at the time it is submitted. Available means that it is not currently under option, it has not been sold, or produced. Spec scripts for existing series are not considered original material and are not currently accepted.
Format: Screenplays that are not formatted to industry standards are not considered for advancement. For more information, see Screenplay Format FAQ. Screenplays should be converted to PDF format for entry and the title page should contain the title of the screenplay only. Scripts are tracked with an individual tracking number that ties back to the writer. Anonymous entries promote a fair read for each writer and the tracking number assures that your entry isn’t lost or credited to the wrong writer.
Registration: Writers may register their scripts with the Writer’s Guild of America, East or West depending on their residency prior to submission, but it is not required. A registered script does provide you with some basic protection before pitching an idea. When submitting a script to the industry, you are required to sign a wavier stating that you are aware that they may already be developing a script that is materially similar to the script or idea you are pitching. Keeping good notes with regard to who has access to your script and when that access occurred along with your registration number in the unlikely event that you suffer a loss. If you have any concerns, consult a qualified entertainment attorney to recommend best practices for your particular property.
Categories: An entry fee is required for each category entered, but there is no limit to the number of categories a writer can enter. The writer also has the option to enter the script for consideration in one or more of the genre specific categories for recognition under that category. For example, a drama writer could enter the script as a genre script, then purchase the add on for Science Fiction, action and TN writer. This allows the writer to be considered in multiple categories without paying the full entry fee multiple times.
Updated drafts: The contest does not accept updated drafts for the main period of the competition. It would be nearly impossible to make sure that every submitted draft got a minimum of two reads. However, if the writer is selected to the semifinalist round, an updated draft may be submitted for final judging on notification of selection. Future updated drafts can be submitted for semifinalist and finalist scripts hosted on the site, but will not be considered during the judging process. In most cases, small tweaks to a script are not sufficient to change a juror’s mind about a script.
Entry fees: Entry fees are non-refundable for any reason. Scripts that are withdrawn forfeit the entry fee as the festival has already incurred costs associated with accepting the script.