Film Challenge FAQs

I've never made a film before. Can I participate?

Of course! Our film challenges are open to filmmakers of all levels and age groups. The point is to learn as much as possible by creating something hands-on. With the ubiquity of digital cameras and free video editing software, it has never been easier to learn how to make a film. Not sure where to start? We have compiled some of the best online filmmaking tutorials and resources.

The following presentation was prepared for an in-person audience at PRIMAA’s 48-Hour Challenge Info Session at the Grande Prairie Public Library. It provides a good overview of things to think about.

So we've registered a team. Now what?

You will get a confirmation email and will be added tot he challenge emails. The challenge'sSergeant-at-Arms and/or the organizing committee will be contacting you with further details and a welcome package. If you have not received a confirmation email, please contact us.

Who is the "Sergeant-at-Arms?" What do they do?

TheSergeant-at-Arms (SAA) is a fancy name for the Volunteer tasked with overseeing the challenge and making sure all teams are treated fairly and abide by the rules. The SAA does not judge the challenge, but is rather the final impartial voice on interpreting rules and ensuring the challenge is fair.

What can/can’t our team do prior to the challenge weekend?

Prior to the challenge, you can (and should) build your team, cast some actors, organize your crew, scout or at least list your location options, collect a whole bunch of prop and wardrobe options, and organize whatever equipment you want to. Pre-planning is strongly encouraged and goes a long way.

You cannot work on story or shoot any specific footage that will be used in your film. It would likely be useless to do so anyway, since films will be judged on how well they integrate the three elements teams are given on the challenge weekend (eg. genre, prop, character, line of dialogue). We understand that this can be a grey area, so team captains are encouraged to contact the Sergeant-at-Arms with specific questions about your plans.

Where does my entry fee go?

All of the money collected for entry fees goes to help fund PRIMAA, a 100% volunteer-run non-profit. PRIMAA has a small administrative budget as part of the challenge (under $200 - think website hosting fees, room rentals for workshops, etc.), but the majority of the funds collected each year support PRIMAA’s long-term capital and operating expenses. Currently PRIMAA is fundraising and acquiring filmmaking gear to be made available to local filmmakers at affordable rental rates. Your entry fee and/or PRIMAA membership helps support programs like these.

I want to participate, but I don't have a team. Can I join an existing team?

Yes! If you want to participate but don't have a team contact us and we will do our best to help find a team for you.

Do I have to be in Grande Prairie to compete?

Not specifically in Grande Prairie, no! We've had lots of participants from elsewhere in the Peace Region of Alberta. Providing your film was produced (in every way) here in the Peace Region during the competition weekend, you do not have to be in Grande Prairie.  If you are planning to compete from outside Grande Prairie you can do the challenge and submit your film via digital delivery online. To do so please indicate as much on your entry form and we will coordinate the details from there. If you are relying on digital delivery, then it is even more important to test your workflow before the challenge.

I'm putting together my team but my writer/editor/etc. friend won't be in the Peace Region during the competition. Can she assist me or write it from where she is?

No, according to the rules of the competition, all creative work must be done within the Peace Region.  Once the competition and the creative process starts, all activities including writing must take place within the Peace Region. But your friend is more than welcome to come and join your team locally. We encourage participants and teams from outside the region to travel and accept the challenge.

What happens after we submit our film?

The first thing you will likely do sleep! After that, come and enjoy the screening of the films. After that, you can do whatever you want with your film, including post it online or work on it further. PRIMAA reserves the right to use excerpts form the films for future marketing and highlight reels.

What can we do to make sure all of our team members can get tickets?

Like many other public events, tickets to the screening(s) are sold on a first-come/first-served basis. If you want to ensure tickets for your entire team, you just have to call the box office early.

Can the same team win all of the awards?

Yes! PRIMAA believes that filmmaking success is always going to be subjective. That's why we initially created two types of award: a juried award and an audience choice award. But for either award to mean anything, we decided they must not affect each other. The audience vote is simply that, and the judges are unaware of what it will be. If a film is lucky enough to win both, then that film must have done some things well. Kudos to the filmmakers either way.

Some challenges may also include other awards, such as Best Youth Film, or Best First Film. But there's nothing stopping a stellar youth film from sweeping all of the awards.

I don’t think it’s fair that some teams have more experience/skills/money/gear/locations/actors/etc. than others. Why are they allowed to do that?

PRIMAA firmly believes that the art of filmmaking is one that allows filmmakers at every level to continuously learn and grow. When devising the challenge, we intentionally kept the restrictions low so that teams of all levels could participate. What this means in real terms is that the challenge will have a mix of teams from complete beginners to seasoned professionals. We consider this a strength of the challenge. It also ensures that audiences at the screening events get a good mix of films to showcase what our region is capable of.

We believe that great films can be made on any budget if filmmakers can craft a compelling story.

Ultimately, PRIMAA is not the talent police, and we will not tell teams who they can or can’t work with, what gear or locations they can or can’t use, how big they can be, or anything else outside of the basic rules.

What do I have to do with my prop to be eligible for judging?

A prop is something used by an actor, referred to by an actor, or something that is specific to the story. A prop is not the same thing as set dressing. Make sure your prop is showcased in some way.

What happens if I screw up my line of dialogue/prop/character?

We strongly encourage teams to get creative with their interpretation of the story elements given to them, but failing to include the given elements means you will have failed the challenge.  But also be sure to read the rules regarding how these elements qualify; the line of dialogue, for example, must be "used verbatim. It may be spoken, sung, and/or written."

Judges may disqualify films for not meeting the challenge, but audiences may be less aware, or more forgiving. So films that fail to meet the challenge criteria could still win audience choice. That's up to the audience, but audiences are told the rules during the voting process.

What happens if we hand our film in late?

Unfortunately, you will be disqualified from the official competition. We enforce the submission time strictly in order to ensure the challenge is fair for all teams. Every team would like a little more time, but this is a 48 hour challenge! Not a 48.05 hour challenge.

It's better to hand in a film that is 90% complete than it is to be late trying to get it to 100%, only to have a tech problem at the finish line. We encourage all teams to export a playable version of their movie in the mid-afternoon on Sunday. Test your workflow ahead of time! Most late teams are the victims of untested workflow and unexpected file rendering and copying issues. Budget time for exporting, copying our video files, and driving. 

Remember, if a film is handed in on time but cannot play due to a problem with the file, any fix (and resubmission) past the deadline is considered late.  Allow yourself time to test the file in its entirety. Play and watch it all the way through, or you risk disappointment after the fact.

Budget your time and plan for some unexpected challenges.

Who gets to vote?

Every ticket-holding audience member of any official screening gets one (1) vote.

Who are the judges?

Judging is done by three volunteers, chosen by the PRIMAA events committee. We organize different judges for each challenge, and we choose judges that bring a mix of perspectives, including filmmakers, non-filmmakers, artists, and community members. The judges take this seriously, and consider a number of factors in their decisions. All judging decisions are final.