Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. What is the 48 Hour Film Project?
- It's your chance to stop talking and start filming! The premise? Filmmaking teams have just one weekend to make a short film. All creativity—writing, shooting, editing and adding a musical soundtrack—must occur in a 48 hour window beginning Friday evening at 7:00pm and ending Sunday at 7:30pm. The following week(s), the completed films are screened to an eager audience.
- 2. How much is the registration fee? Is it per person or per team?
- The registration fee is for the entire team.
The fee varies depending on location. In US cities, the fees are the same. For 48s outside of the US, the fee differs.
In the United States:
First Year Cities: From $135 to $155 for each team
Repeat Cities: From $158 to $198 for each team
Outside the United States:
Please visit the webpage for that location.
Register early and save! The fee is based on when you register (Early, Regular or Late)--the sooner you sign up, the more you save..
- 3. If I have to drop out, how do I withdraw?
- 48 Hour Film Project Refunds in the United States
If a team (Entrant) must withdraw, refunds will be paid on the following schedule:
- Notify the 48HFP more than 30 days prior to your competition weekend, receive a full refund minus a $25 administrative fee.
- Notify the 48HFP 7-30 days prior to your competition weekend, receive a full refund minus a $35 administrative fee.
- No refunds less than 7 days prior to the Kickoff event.
NOTE #1: If Team Leader contracts Covid and must withdraw his/her team within seven (7) days of Kickoff, then the registration fee will be refunded minus a $35 administrative fee.
NOTE #2: In lieu of a refund, Registration may be transferred to a different City Project (depending on availability) or credited to the following year at no charge. This request must be made through the Withdraw link below at least seven (7) days prior to Kickoff.
The 48HFP Refund Policy may vary in other countries.
To withdraw and, if eligible, request a refund or a transfer, the team leader must complete this request form: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/T9CNP9
- 4. When will the 48 Hour Film Project come to my city?
- The dates for each city are listed on our 48 Hour Film Project website. If we do not have listed dates, then the dates have not yet been determined. If you want to be the first to find out when the 48 Hour Film Project is coming to your city, sign up for your city's newsletter.
And be sure to follow your city’s social media!
- 5. What are the films about?
- That's up to the filmmaker; however, each team must select the genre for its movie in a random drawing before the start of the competition. There are 30 different genres. Each team will receive two genres from which to choose.
In addition, teams are given a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that must appear in their film.
- 6. Who sees the films?
- The films screen to live audiences at a local theater. Of course the filmmakers, actors, family and friends are there to enthusiastically support the premiere of the weekend's work. But also supporters of the local film community, and discriminating viewers who want to see something new—something raw and alive—are there to feel the creative energy.
- 7. Who are the filmmakers?
- The 48 Hour Film Project is open to all filmmakers, beginners, pre-professionals and pros. Even hobbyists are encouraged to participate. The Rules state that all team members (crew and cast) must be volunteers (don’t forget our special agreement with SAG-AFTRA in the US allows them to volunteer for you too). Experience does not always equate to awards. Beginner teams have won big awards, too. And, you never know who you may see in a 48 Hour film—Martin Freeman, Penn of Penn and Teller, Dennis Farina, JK Simmons, and Nick Clooney (George’s dad) have all appeared in 48HFP films.
- 8. Is there a limit to the number of people on a team?
We’ve had teams of a single person–who works in front of and behind the camera. Our largest team to date was from Albuquerque with 116 people and 30 horses! The average, though, is about 15 people per team.
- 9. Am I allowed to be on more than one team?
- Yes, you're allowed. We hope you can make the scheduling work out! And be sure the Team Leaders on each team know.
- 10. How long are the films?
- The films are short; they must be a minimum of 4 minutes and a maximum of 7 minutes long. Short is good. Not only are shorter films tighter and usually more interesting, they are more marketable.
- 11. Where and when are they shown?
- On the first few days following the competition deadline, the movies are screened at a grand premiere in a local movie theater. An eager audience of tired, excited filmmakers, crews and friends are in attendance to cheer on the films.
- 12. How is the event advertised?
- The event is advertised by word of mouth, on the web, and via local press. Local filmmakers and organizations are our most vocal supporters and do a great job spreading the word. In each city, the 48 Hour Film Project has generated considerable interest from local and national media. From CNN to the Washington Post and LA Times—we've had coverage in hundreds of media outlets to date.
- 13. What should I do with my film after the competition?
- Get it out there! Enter it into festivals, play it in public screenings, upload it to websites, get it on television, and show it to anyone you can. Be sure you abide by any restrictions in the Team Leader's Agreement.
See also: After the 48
- 14. May I show a modified version of my film?
- Yes, presuming that the showing adheres to the Team Leader's Agreement that you signed when entering the 48 Hour Film Project. If it is a modified version of a 48 Hour Film Project film, please include a title card and a mention in the end credits that say:
The concept for this film developed during the 48 Hour Film Project. www.48hourfilm.com
- 15. Is this a contest and will there be a "Best Film" selection?
- Yes and yes. One film in each city will be chosen "Best Film of City".
- 16. Will I win?
- Depends on what you mean by winning. Countless filmmakers over the years have told us that their filmmaking weekend was a fantastic experience. They loved getting to use their creative talents; they had fun with their friends; and they made a film, too! So if winning means having a great time, you've got a very good shot at it.
Each city announces a number of awards including Best Film. If you’ve got a creative team and can deliver a film in 48 hours, you could win an award.
- 17. Will I get rich?
- Probably not. Over the years a number of films have been purchased for distribution, but this is rare. However, quite a few 48HFP filmmakers have had success with their films in other festivals including SXSW. One team won a $100K filmmaking package at another festival. Quite a few filmmakers have made indie features and other filmmakers have used their 48HFP experience to get paid work.
Additionally, if the 48 Hour Film Project is able to distribute your film, you are entitled to the bulk of the proceeds. While the market for short films is nearly non-existent, the 48HFP garners more interest in our films because of the 48-hour concept and the fact that they are part of a bigger collection. In summing it up, while folks have lots of fun doing the 48 Hour Film Project, they don't make lots of money.
- 18. Who judges the films?
- In each city we gather a group of film and video professionals to serve as our judges. These judges generally have extensive experience within the field. We require these judges to be fair and impartial. Our judges donate their time and talent to rate the films. In addition to determining the winner they also select a number of other awards. The judges on the national/international level have included actors such as Julianne Moore, directors such as Simon West (Con Air), and editors such as Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, The Departed).
But no matter who the judges are, judging itself is a subjective process. Many times, two regarded critics have completely different opinions about a film—remember the long debate between Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert about Apocalypse Now? Similarly, on many occasions our favorite 48 Hour Film Project film of the year has not even won its city. When it comes to evaluating art, a lot comes down to matters of taste.
- 19. Can I or my organization be a sponsor?
- Of course!
Looking to be a local partner? Contact your city producer.
Looking to be a regional or national partner, contact Mark Ruppert for more information.
- 20. Does the maximum length of the film include credits?
- No. Your film may be 7 minutes long plus 1 minute of End Credits.
- 21. Are credits in the beginning permissible?
- Opening credits are allowed. They do not count against the credit time limit. However, they do count against the 7 minutes of film. Remember, the audience is here to watch, not read.
- 22. Are we allowed to have footage under our closing credits?
- Yes, however, the narrative must end before the closing credits begin. So outtakes, Ferris-Bueller-like antics, or bonus scenes are allowed. But if we removed the credits, the movie should still feel complete.
- 23. Can I film outside of my city?
- Absolutely! The only requirements are that you have a representative from your team at the Kickoff. Other than that, it's up to you. We've had teams shoot hundreds of miles away from their host city. We've even had a Boston team upload footage from Panama!
- 24. Are stock footage and photos allowed?
- Stock photos–yes, provided you have permission to use them. Stock footage–no, unless it is composited with footage shot during the competition weekend AND you have permission to use it. To be specific: Every frame of your film MUST contain footage shot or created in the Official Time Period. This is "core footage." "Supporting footage," or footage shot or created BEFORE the Official Time Period (including stock footage that is part of a special effect) may be placed over or under the core footage, as long as every frame of your film contains some amount of core footage and the assembling of the core footage with the supporting footage occurs during the Official Time Period. Animation, titles, and special effects can be considered core footage if it is created during the Official Time Period. (see Rule Y relating to footage created using Artificial Intelligence.) Supporting footage MAY NOT include people or other performers unless the supporting footage was shot during a previous 48HFP Official Time Period for a previously-submitted 48HFP film. Still photos are permitted as core footage. The still photos do not need to be created during the Official Time Period. Note: Still photos created outside of the Official Time Period being used in a sequence to create the illusion of motion are not acceptable as core footage, but are acceptable as supporting footage. You must have rights to any footage or photos used in your film. A 48HFP Materials Release is required for all materials, photos, and/or footage not created in the Official Time Period.
- 25. Is animation allowed?
- Yes. However—while you may use still drawings created before the Project—you may not use sequences of drawings created before the Project to create the illusion of motion. Using existing images and 3D objects is permissible, provided that you have full rights to them. Again, only animation created during the 48 hour period is allowed. And, as with a live action film, you must have all rights to the animation you submit.
- 26. What about visual effects? What's allowed?
- You may use visual effects and any visual effects software that you have the right to use. All visual effects are also subject to “Rule D: Footage” of the filmmaking rules. In other words, your visual effect must be used in conjunction with footage shot during the competition weekend.
- 27. May we include our logo that was made before the filmmaking weekend?
- Yes, provided that it begins the film and is shorter than five seconds long. Note that the logo does count against the 7 minute running time of the film.
- 28. Do I need to subtitle my film during the Project weekend?
- Subtitles are not required during the Project weekend, however, what you submit on Sunday night is what will be shown to the judges and at your premiere screening.
If the judges in your city cannot understand your film, they are less likely to give it awards. And, of course, the required line of dialogue must be clear.
NOTE: If you make a film in a language other than English, and you are selected to screen at Filmapalooza, you must provide English subtitles in an .srt file. This may be done after the competition weekend.
- 29. Have any of the movies been shot on film?
- While it is rare that filmmakers shoot on film, it has happened a handful of times over the years. You must weigh the beauty of the picture and the experience of shooting on film with the time it takes to process the film. Teams who have done it in the past have had connections with labs that enabled them to develop the film with enough time for the teams to submit in the 48 hour time period. We were quite impressed!
- 30. Does every team member have to sign the Team Leader's Agreement?
- No, only the team leader needs to sign it. However, everyone who works on the film must sign the Liability Waiver form. See the production documents page for more details.
- 31. What's a logline?
- A logline is a very short, catchy summary of the story, usually not longer than one sentence. We ask you to provide a logline for your film on the Wrap Up Form. EXAMPLE: Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl seeks a way home to Kansas, befriending along the way a scarecrow without a brain, a tin woodsman without a heart, and a lion without courage.
- 32. How do we document public domain or royalty-free music and photos?
- Have the person who has the rights to the music or materials sign the release form. In the case of royalty-free materials, this is the person who purchased them. In the case of public domain materials, this could be anyone on the team. Please also include information that shows your rights to the music or materials, such as a license, a purchase receipt, or a statement by the author.
- 33. Is music or materials from Creative Commons allowed?
- You may use Creative Commons music or materials that are Attribution Only. If the Creative Commons license is either Non-Commercial or Sharealike, it is not compatible with the 48 Hour Film Project's Team Leader's Agreement and therefore cannot be used.
- 34. Do I need a Location Release to shoot on public property?
- No, but you may need a permit. The 48 does not require you to prove to us that you received a permit, but you may be stopped from shooting or even fined if you do not have one. Please check with your local film commissioner.
- 35. Can the required character be heard instead of seen?
- No, we must actually see the required character in some way on the screen. Just being audible off screen - like on the other end of a phone conversation - does not count. Remember, he/she need not be the star of the film, just make an appearance.
- 36. Does the required character have to say his name or wear a name tag?
- As long as the audience can infer who the character is, he/she doesn't need to be further identified.
- 37. Can we make a poster and/or trailer to share on social media?
- For sure! You are even encouraged to do so. It’s a great way to promote your film and get audiences to your screening. Even though you are not allowed to share your film before the Best Of/Awards, you ARE allowed to share a poster and/or trailer.