Filmmaking Rules How It Works

These rules apply to each participating group/production team.

The 48 Hour Film Project Organizers may add to or amend these rules at any time prior to the beginning of the Official Time Period.


A. Times

The 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) will occur in cities around the world on different weekends throughout the year.

The 48 Hour Film Project will occur between a Friday 7pm local time and the following Sunday 7pm local time. This is the Official Time Period. (Days of the competition may vary in some countries.)

The participating group/team must complete its film/video work in time to deliver it to a location to be announced, on Sunday by 7:30pm.

Only works that meet the deadline will be officially part of the competition. All films received on Sunday (on-time and late) will be screened.


B. Creative Process

All creativity must take place during the Official Time Period. Any creative work in advance of the competition weekend is prohibited. Creative work includes, but is not limited to:

  • Writing the script
  • Rehearsing
  • Costume/Set Design
  • Shooting
  • Editing
  • Sound Design
  • Rendering
  • Outputting to tape or other media


C. Preparation

The only work to begin prior to the Official Time Period is:

  • Organizing Crew
  • Organizing Cast
  • Securing Equipment
  • Scouting/Securing Locations


D. Footage

All footage must be shot within the Official Time Period of the project.

No stock footage or footage shot or created at another time may be used.

Animation and special effects are permitted, but must be created during the Official Time Period. (Note: Stock footage is permissible as part of a post-production effect or on a background monitor, i.e., a television, as long as the team has rights to the stock footage and the stock footage is placed over or under footage that is shot within the Official Time Period. Allowable stock footage includes bullets, fires, explosions, chromakeyed backgrounds, etc., but stock footage of people or other performers is not allowed.)

Still photographs are permitted, provided that the team has the rights to them. The photos do not need to be created during the Official Time Period; however, stills created outside of the Official Time Period may not be used in sequence to create the illusion of motion.


E. Kickoff Event

Each participating team must have a representative at the official Kickoff Event of the 48 Hour Film Project.

  • At the event, each group must submit a complete Team Leader's Agreement, signed by its team leader. A team may not participate without submitting this agreement.
  • Each group will choose the genre of its film in a random drawing.
  • Teams will be given the option of relinquishing the genre selected in the drawing for a Wild Card genre. If opting for the Wild Card, teams may not go back to their original genre.


F. Required Elements

Each participating group will be assigned required elements that must appear in its film, such as a genre, a character, a prop and/or a line of dialogue.

  • The required Character and Prop must be seen on-screen.
  • The required Line of Dialogue must be used verbatim. It may be spoken, sung and/or written. It may be in any language, though if it is unclear that it is the required Line, there must be a translation.
  • To qualify as an Official Entry, each group's film must be in the genre it selects and must contain all required elements within the official time limit and prior to the credits.


G. Volunteers

All cast and crew must be volunteers.


H. Cameras

Any type of video or film camera may be used. There is no limit to the number of cameras.


I. Landmark Requirement

First Time Cities only: Each film must include a landmark (building, monument, etc.) or identifying characteristic (e.g., bus, city office) of the competition city. (Note: The landmark or characteristic must exist inside city limits.) This rule applies only the first time the 48HFP visits a city.


J. Music Rights

Participating groups are encouraged to work with a composer and/or musicians to write and record music for the films. It is permissible for a participating group to use pre-recorded music; however the participating group must have the rights to any music used in its film and must provide releases for all music used. As with music, pre-recorded sound effects are allowed, but you must have rights to use them.

Note: Song parodies (i.e., use of identifiable pre-existing compositions with new or altered lyrics or music) may not be included in the film without a signed release from the composition's rights holder. This rule applies without regard to whether the song parody arguably constitutes fair use under US or international copyright law.

See Also

K. Total Running Time

The finished film must be a minimum of 4 minutes in duration, and a maximum of 7 minutes in duration—not including end credits. In other words, the official running time begins after the required 48HFP slates and ends prior to the end credits. The required slates and the end credits do not count towards the minimum time of 4 minutes. The film story may not be longer than 7 minutes.


L. Credits

Pre-film Required Slates

Before the finished film begins, the media should have...

  • 5 seconds of black
  • A title card with: team name, title, genre, city, and date
  • The official 48HFP animated opening -OR- a title card with: This film was made for the 48 Hour Film Project 2015. www.48hourfilm.com
  • 2 seconds of black

Your film follows this.

Opening Credits

After the 2 seconds of black, some films start with opening credits. These are not encouraged, but if you use them, opening credits are considered to be part of the film, and therefore count against the seven minute maximum. Additionally, if your film has opening credits other than simply the film's title (for example, the names of directors, actors, etc.), you must include one of the following:

  • the text YOUR TEAM NAME presents immediately followed by a 48 Hour Film Project or
  • the text a 48 Hour Film Project immediately following the title of your film

Note: a 48 Hour Film Project may be entirely lowercase (i.e., a 48 hour film project).

End Credits

Credits at the end of each film are limited to a maximum of 60 seconds. The 60 seconds is considered additional to the length of the film, as stated above. (That is, a film may be 7 minutes long, with an additional 60 seconds of credits, for a total running time of 8 minutes.)

The end credits must include the words: This film was made for the 48 Hour Film Project. www.48hourfilm.com

Slates And Credits After The Competition

For any future screenings, online or otherwise, films should retain the pre-film title card that says: This film was made for the 48 Hour Film Project [project:year]. www.48hourfilm.com.


M. Required Media Formats

For complete submission requirements, check your city webpage. If your film does not conform to the submission requirements in your city, it may be disqualified. Also, if your film cannot be viewed on 48HFP equipment, it may be disqualified.

Unless otherwise instructed on your City webpage of the 48 Hour Film Project website, your film must be submitted on one of the following media:

  • (preferred) a self-contained SD Quicktime file with no proprietary codecs on either: a data DVD -OR- a USB flash drive
  • playable DVD


N. Submission Notes

  • We recommend that each team submit two copies of the final film.
  • We recommend that you make sound levels relatively even throughout your film. (If your film has uneven sound or sound that peaks, it may be modified to protect the playback equipment.)
  • Projection specs vary from theater to theater and are beyond the control of the 48HFP. If your film is very dark, it may be difficult to see in your theater.
  • All films received on the evening of the deadline (on-time and late) will be screened, presuming they meet the eligiblity requirements.
See Also

O. Production Documents

Each team must secure releases for talent, crew, music and locations (and any other applicable releases), which must be turned in to the project organizers with the finished film/video. The film/video will not be screened before the 48 Hour Film Project Organizers receive the signed releases.


P. Certification Statement

The Entrant must submit a Certification Statement with his/her completed Entry, certifying adherence to all Official Rules.


Q. Eligibility

To be eligible for the Project, Entries must be the original work of the Entrant; must not infringe third-party's rights; must be suitable for publication (i.e., may not be obscene or indecent); must not contain obscene or pornographic material; may not contain defamatory statements about any person, company, organization or entity; may not invade privacy or other rights of any person, company or entity; may not in any other way violate applicable laws and regulations; and may not contain any copyrighted elements (other than as owned by the Entrant and/or 48HFP).

Entries containing prohibited or inappropriate content as determined by the 48HFP, in its sole discretion, to be inappropriate will be disqualified. 48HFP reserves the right to make the final determination as to which Entries are eligible. 48HFP also reserves the right to refuse to screen a film or to make an announcement at the screening regarding the content of the film.


R. No Pre-Screening Distribution

The Entrant should not distribute their film in any way before the premiere screenings. This includes uploading the film to any website. The Entrant is encouraged to make a trailer of their film and distribute that instead. This trailer should be no longer than 48 seconds.


S. Official Film Entry

To be certified as an Official Film Entry, each participating group's film/video production must follow all rules herein. The 48 Hour Film Project Organizers reserve the right to screen only certified Official Film Entries.


T. Entries Not Returned

No Entries (media or documents) will be returned.


U. Disqualification

48HFP and Project Parties may, in their sole discretion, disqualify Entries deemed to be inappropriate or otherwise non-compliant.


V. Official City Winner

All certified Official Film Entries are eligible to compete for the title of Best Film in its city.


W. Best Film of 2015

All Best of City films are eligible to compete globally for title of Best Film of 2015. A panel of independent judges will determine the winners.

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