Welcome to “Lights! Cameraphone! Action!”—IMTF’s smartphone movie trailer competition. The big idea is that you will use a mobile device (phone or digital tablet) to produce a “faux” trailer that previews a movie not yet made—a movie still in the dream stage.

To enter this competition you must agree with the Contest Rules at the time you send us the online Entry Form. The following FAQs, presented in alphabetical order, are meant to clarify the rules.


Q: Can actors be paid for their work in the trailer?
A: Yes.

Q: Do actors have to sign releases?
A: Yes. A sample release is provided here, but you may use your own release. The key thing is that you must be able to demonstrate that you have secured each actor’s permission. You do not need releases from people in the background or in crowd scenes if they cannot be identified. We will ask to see the releases only if your trailer makes the semi-finals.


Q: Is there a limit on the budget for the trailer?
A: No. But you need to know that while technical quality is important, our main criteria are: originality and persuasiveness. We believe it is possible to create a masterful trailer on a shoestring budget.


Q: Can the idea of the trailer be based on a previously made movie, book, or other entity?
A: Yes, if it transforms the underlying material in a way that doesn’t violate the work’s copyright. The trailer must come across as original.


Q: Does the trailer need to include credits for actors or crew?
A: No.


Q: What is the deadline for submission?
A: The current deadline is January 31, 2013. However, IMTF reserves the right to extend the deadline by up to one month. Entries coming after the closing date will be included in the next contest.

Q: When will the winners be announced?
A: We will announce the winners within 60 days of the end of the submission period.


Q: Does the trailer need to include dialogue spoken by actors?
A: No. But if you do include dialogue that is not in English, you must provide subtitles that are clearly visible and that accurately translate the spoken dialogue.


Q: Is it OK to edit the footage on a computer?
A: Yes, but the footage itself must be shot on a mobile device. See the question about EQUIPMENT below.

Q: Can someone other than the trailer’s director edit the trailer?
A: Yes.

Entry Fee

Q: Is there an entry fee?
A: Students enrolled in any school may enter for free. Until November 30 everyone else pays $15.

Entry Qualifications

Q: Can anyone enter the contest?
A: The contest is open to everyone throughout the world and the known universe, except for members of the IMTF team and their close relatives (spouses, children, parents) and except for people living in areas where this kind of contest is prohibited by law.

Q: Is the contest open to professional moviemakers?
A: Yes.

Q: Are there any age restrictions?
A: No. But if an entry reaches the semi-finals, we will ask entrants under 18 to provide the name of a parent or legal guardian who agrees to the rules of the contest.


Q. Must entries be shot using a cell phone or an digital tablet?
A: Yes. We will not accept trailers shot using dedicated movie cameras—including Flip cameras—or computers. You must use a mobile device—and identify that device in your entry form. If your trailer is chosen as a finalist, we will ask you to submit the original footage so that we can certify that it was taken using a qualified mobile device.

Q: Are external microphones permitted?
A: Yes.


Q: What genres are permitted?
A: Your trailer may represent a movie that’s comedy, documentary, drama, horror, romance, sci fi, western, or any other genre. : However, if the material is adult in nature, the rating for the trailer must be no higher than PG13. For more on this, see the question on RATINGS.


Q: How are winners chosen?
A: Winners will be selected in a three-step process.
First, five semi-finalists will be chosen by popular vote; on our website and via social media; and five more semi-finalists will be chosen by the staff of IMTF.
Second, from this group of 10 semi-finalists, our panel of industry professionals will choose three finalists.
Third, the grand-prize winner will be chosen by popular vote.

Length of Movie Represented by the Trailer

Q: Does the trailer have to represent a project that is planned to be a feature-length movie?
A: No. The trailer can represent a short movie—of a least 10 minutes—or a feature-length movie.

Length of Trailer

Q: Are their length restrictions?
A: The trailer must be at least 30 seconds long and no longer than two minutes.


Q: Is it OK to limit the trailer to a single location?
A: Yes.


Q: Is permission required to use music in the trailer?
A: Yes. You must demonstrate that you have permission to use any copyrighted music. We will ask for written proof only if your trailer makes the semi-finalist round.

Ownership of the Trailer

Q: What rights are given up by entering this contest?
A: The entrant retains ownership of the trailer and the ideas represented by it, but grants IMTF the following rights: 1) to exhibit the trailer on our website and our partner websites; and 2) to exhibit the trailer in theaters and/or movie festivals. If IMTF wishes to arrange financing to make the movie represented by the trailer, IMTF would at that point attempt to negotiate a deal with the entrant, but the entrant would be under no obligation to accept the deal.


Q: What are the prizes?
A: There will be cash prizes, equipment prizes, and opportunities to meet with movie professionals. For details, see the Prizes page.


Q: Will the trailer be disqualified if it includes nudity, excessive violence, or excessive use of profanities?
A: Yes. While the movie you imagine might have an R rating, the trailer’s rating must be no higher than PG-13 (parental guidance strongly advised) as determined by the staff of IndieFilmConnect and the contest’s judges.


Q: Does there need to be a completed script for the movie represented by the trailer?
A: No. But if your trailer is selected as a finalist—and thereby qualifies for prize money used to make the movie—you will be asked to submit a 1-page treatment before being accepted into the finals.


Q: Does the title need to appear in the trailer?
A: Yes. You need to include the title for the movie represented by the trailer, even though the movie does not yet exist. For example, if you envision making a movie titled “The 123 Murders,” that title must appear somewhere in your trailer.

Text Cards

Q: Does the trailer need to include text cards?
A: No. But if you do include text cards that are not written in English, you must provide subtitles that are clearly visible and that accurately translate the text cards into English.