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.
Below are the Filmmaking Rules. Be sure to also read the official Competition Rules.
The 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) will occur in the Houston, TX area on the weekend of Dates To Be Determined.
The 48 Hour Film Project will occur between Wednesday, December 31 at 7:00pm and Tuesday, January 31 at 5:22pm. This is the Official Time Period.
The participating group/team must complete its film/video work in time to deliver it to to submit it on Sunday at the deadline.
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
- Casting (of roles)
- Costume/Set Design
- Sound Design
- Outputting to USB drive or other media
The only work to begin prior to the Official Time Period is:
- Organizing Crew
- Organizing Cast
- Securing Equipment
- Scouting/Securing Locations
All footage must be shot within the Official Time Period of the project.
Animation and special effects are permitted but must be created during the Official Time Period.
No stock footage or footage shot or created at another time may be used unless the footage is 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.
Pre-made sequences or compositions that are available to all via purchase or download are permitted if a majority of frames contain content (e.g., text or images) created within the Official Time Period. The pre-made portion of the sequence may not include people or other performers.
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.
Permissible stock footage within effects, permissible pre-made sequences, and still photographs must all be accompanied by a Materials Release demonstrating that the team has rights to use them.
E. Kickoff Event
Each participating team must have a representative at the official Kickoff Event of the 48 Hour Film Project, as listed on your city's webpage.
- Prior to the Kickoff event, each group must submit a completed Team Leader's Agreement, signed by its team leader. A team may not participate without submitting this agreement.
- Each group will receive the genre of its film in a random drawing.
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 must be seen on-screen and it must be clear--either directly shown or by context--who the required character is. The Character name does not have to be said out loud or written on-screen.
- The required Prop must be seen on-screen. A picture of the required prop is also allowed.
- 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. VolunteersAll cast and crew must be volunteers.
H. Animal Safety
Animal safety, like cast and crew safety, is an important part of 48 Hour Filmmaking. Films that result in the death or mutilation of an animal may be disqualified.
I. CamerasAny type of video or film camera may be used. There is no limit to the number of cameras.
J. Landmark RequirementFirst 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.
K. 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.
L. 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. 48HFP reserves the right to shorten any film that exceeds the maximum length for screening purposes.
Pre-film Required Slates
Before the finished film begins, the media should have...
- 5 seconds of black
- The official 48HFP animated opening -OR- a title card with: This film was made for the 48 Hour Film Project 2023. www.48hourfilm.com
- A title card with: team name, title, genre, city, and date
- 2 seconds of black
Your film follows this.
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).
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.) 48HFP reserves the right to shorten any end credits that exceed the maximum length for screening purposes.
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 2023. www.48hourfilm.com.
N. Required Media Formats
For complete submission requirements, check your city webpage.
Maximum File Size: 2GB.
IMPORTANT: 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.
O. Submission Notes
- 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 some theaters.
- All films received on the evening of the deadline (on-time and late) will be screened, presuming they meet the eligibility requirements.
P. 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.
- Release forms can be found on the 48HFP website.
- Completed release forms shall be uploaded to Cinema48.
- Both written and electronic signatures are allowed.
Q. Certification StatementThe Entrant must submit a Certification Statement with his/her completed Entry, certifying adherence to all Official Rules.
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 reserves the right to refuse to screen a film or to make an announcement at the screening regarding the content of the film. 48HFP reserves the right to alter a film in order to remove or delete offensive or defamatory content.
S. No Pre-Screening DistributionThe Entrant should not distribute their entry/video in any way prior to it receiving its official 48HFP premiere screening. This includes uploading the video to any website or screening the film for groups of anyone other than the team. The Entrant is encouraged to make a trailer of their film and distribute that instead. This trailer should be no longer than 48 seconds.
T. 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.
U. Entries Not ReturnedNo Entries (media or documents) will be returned.
V. Disqualification48HFP and Project Parties may, in their sole discretion, disqualify Entries deemed to be inappropriate or otherwise non-compliant.
W. Official City Winner
All certified Official Film Entries are eligible to compete for the title of Best Film of the Houston, TX 48 Hour Film Project.
X. Best Film of 2023
All Best of City films are eligible to compete globally for the title of Best Film of 2023. A panel of independent judges will determine the winners.