CNY Short Film Competition

Now Announcing the 2020 CNY Short Film Competition

Are you a local filmmaker in Central New York -OR-an alumni or recent graduate from a CNY college or university?

Update concerning the 2020 CNY SFC

Innovation Group is closely monitoring the impact and changing circumstances regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. The arts and entertainment communities are among the most hard-hit professional sectors.

Despite this period of adversity, the submission portal for applicants interested in the 2020 CNY SFC will remain OPEN. We invite aspiring screenwriters and directors who meet the eligibility criteria to continue to apply!

In the meantime – and moving forward – Innovation Group remains committed to following all government protocols to ensure the health and safety of our constituents.

Application Deadline Extended

May 22, 2020

Innovation Group of CNY Arts, LLC., is pleased to announce the official launch of the second annual Central New York Short Film Competition. After a successful inaugural competition last year, IGCNYA will be launching the 2020 CNY Short Film Competition.

In partnership with alumni and recent graduates from regional colleges and universities, and with generous support from Empire State Development, IGCNYA will sponsor four award recipients to each produce short film projects by leveraging the unique professional film-making resources available in the
Central New York region.

Purpose of the 2020 CNY Short Film Competition

The 2020 CNY SFC is designed to encourage regional filmmaking and develop a diverse media community in the Greater Syracuse Area.

The Competition is specifically targeted to provide recent filmmaking graduates of a regional college or university with an opportunity to bolster their creative portfolio by completing a professionally-produced short film project.

Four scripts (15 pages or less) will be funded up to $40,000 each. Finalists will be mentored in all aspects of the production process.

All finalists are required to fulfill a majority of their production within the Greater Syracuse and Central New York Region, and also submit the completed projects for critical consideration in State and national film festivals.

Read about the 2019 CNY Short Film Competition Winners


Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a degree-bearing graduate (2010 – 2019) or anticipatory graduate (2020) from a college or university within the following counties: Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and Tompkins counties.


  • Is a permanent resident of the CNY Arts service area and who has at least an Associate’s degree or equivalent in film or media studies.
  • Through their work or education, eligible applicants must demonstrate theoretical or practical experience in filmmaking, sufficient to complete the project.
  • Eligible applicants will be required to demonstrate proof of academic bona fides or residency.

Eligible applicants also:

  • Cannot have made more than $30,000 in screenwriting or directing credits in the last five years.
  • Must agree – if awarded – to perform pre-production and production within the Greater Syracuse or Central New York region.
  • Must at least be 21 years of age.
  • Exceptions to the age and degree requirements may be made for interns interested in working in an educational or support capacity for the 2020 CNY Short Film Competition. Please submit inquiries with an attached resume to:

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Individuals who have not graduated from one of the colleges or universities.
  • Individuals who do not currently live within the 8-counties listed above.
  • Individuals who  do not have a film-related or media-studies related degree.
  • Individuals who have graduated prior to May 2010.
  • Individuals who are under the age of 21.
Production Parameters

Awardees must adhere to the following parameters for production:

  • Final-cuts must be as close to 10 minutes in length as possible.
  • Scripts may feature no more than 5 filming locations. However, you may have as many set-ups as you wish in each location!
  • Awardees must be fully available to work in CNY Region during the designated two-week pre-production and production time-frame (July and August 2020, specific dates TBD).
  • Awardees must be available to meet with IGCNYA staff or designated production contact as required, during pre-production and principal.
  • During pre-production, awardees must attend an orientation conducted by IGCNYA and partnering production mentors to familiarize crews with local staff, resources, accommodations, work space, film location needs, and operations and procedures.
  • Awardees must hire a line-producer to devise a practicable budget that balances logistical costs with fair compensation for cast and crew.
  • Awardees must create a production company (LLC or S-corp) registered in New York State as the entity through which all production-related business activity will operate.
  • Awardees must also agree to conduct banking for managing production-related expenditure and grant compensation through the local banking institution approved by IGCNYA (M&T Bank).
  • Completed productions must be submitted to film festivals for critical consideration and public outreach. A production budget line item must be allocated for the cost of applying to these festivals.
Judging Process

Submissions are reviewed and evaluated by an independent jury composed of national film professionals. Judging for the competition is blind, so the jurors will not know the identities of the people who have entered the work. The applicant profile is not presented during judging.

Judges will review applications based on the primary criteria (below) and competitively against the applicant pool:

  • Creativity, originality and artistic merit.
  • Feasibility: script submissions will be partly evaluated on the basis of practical implementation of logistical parameters (e.g. available budget, scheduling, crew, locations, etc.). For details, see section on “Production Parameters”, above.
  • Connection to CNY: The degree to which the characters, setting or themes of the script connect to or are identified with Central New York. This could be by way of association with a significant cultural, institutional or physical landmark(s) unique to the region. There is no specific criteria in this regard, and we invite contestants to exercise their creativity and knowledge of the region based on their experience as students or residents.

The judging is a two-part process:

  • In Phase I, all eligible applicants’ scripts are reviewed by evaluators for eligibility, and eight semi-finalists will be selected.
  • In Phase II, semi-finalists will be asked to submit a full project plan (including a preliminary budget, crew, one-liner and fully-articulated production “vision”).
  • After Phase II, four winners will be announced.
Submission Material
Applicants will submit their material through the online portable Submittable. An official portal link will be made available in the coming weeks. All applicants must pay a $25 entry fee. Only one submission is permitted per applicant.

Applicant must complete the following:

  • Applicants must first register their Script with the Writer’s Guild of America prior to date of submission.
  • A completed Applicant Profile Template: contact information, proof of residency, higher education history and any additional / supplemental information required to verify applicant eligibility.
  • A marketing strategy that includes an outline of proposed festival submissions and intent for distribution.
  • The proposed script / project must be a live-action short. Animation, documentaries or docu-dramas are ineligible.

A completed Script composed in an industry-standard script software program:

  • No more than 15 pages in length.
  • Saved and uploaded as a single PDF file.
Commitment of Finalists

After selection of finalists is announced, funding agreements will be drafted. Applicants must sign and adhere to the terms of the 2020 CNY Short Film Competition contract (funding agreement).

Finalists retain ownership of the short film and all related content made possible by this fund.

However, all finalists must provide CNY Arts credit language and logo on all content produced as a result of receiving this award. Recipients must continue to use credit language on any future renditions of the short film.

IGCNYA reserves the right to use whole or excerpt portions of the completed projects for the sole purpose of promoting IGCNYA and future CNY Short Film Competitions.

Please direct any inquiries to: