What is the PGFC?

Only the best event of it’s kind … anywhere!

The Story behind

The PGFC began in 2006 when organizers at Dordt College recognized the need to have a top-shelf, Midwest-based competition that would encourage people high-school age and older, to get involved in media production. Originally intended for a region around N’W Iowa, the PGFC has grown and now accepts competitors from all States and Canadian Provinces.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the Prairie Grass Film Challenge?

The PGFC is a top-shelf event that exposes people around the country to a fun, family-friendly opportunity to get involved in film making. Newbies have a great chance of winning. PGFC is a “challenge,” not a “festival.” The difference is, a challenge gives competitors a very strict, set timeline and parameters of what is in the film. All work must be done within that timeframe and contain all the provided elements. A “festival,” on the other hand, is more open and seeks films made in the previous year or two with a much broader allowance for category and topics.

When and Why was the PGFC started?

The PGFC began in 2006 when organizers at Dordt College recognized the need to have a top-shelf, Midwest-based competition that would encourage people high-school age and older, to get involved in media production. Originally intended for a region around N’W Iowa, the PGFC has grown and now accepts competitors from all States and Canadian Provinces.

What category should I compete in?

There are three categories. High School. College. Post College. You compete in the category that your oldest team member belongs to. For example, if you have a team of almost all high school students, but you also have one college student on the team, then you compete in the college-age category. This does not include your actors. This only refers to your actual team of filmmakers (director, camera, sound, etc.)

How are films judged?

PGFC uses two levels of judging. Tier 1 Judges watch every single film submitted. They are looking for basic proficiency in storytelling, production quality and content worth consuming. Films that don’t meet those basic requirements are not forwarded on to the Tier 2 judges. Tier 2 judges are professionals who are scattered around North America. They watch each film and fill in an on-line rubric. The scores from all those judges’ rubrics determine who wins the “best of” in each category. The film that takes overall best score–regardless of category–becomes “Best of Show” for that year.

Will I get comments from the judges on my film?

Yes, you will get comments. Even those films that are stopped at the Tier 1 level will get some basic comments on why the film was not forwarded to Tier 2 judges.

How do I register?

Registration is done online. Once you pay the entrance fee you will also have to fill in some registration forms so we know who your team is, how to contact you via email, etc.

When will the competition start? How will I be notified?

Check the website for the exact date. At 4pm CST on that date, you will either receive an email or a notification in your portal on the PGFC website. That email launches the 48-hour competition.

What do I have to include in my film?

Generally, four things are randomly assigned to each team. A line of dialogue that the judges need to detect somewhere in your film. A genre. A character. A prop. Each year, this may vary slightly, but you will be clearly notified of what’s expected to be in your film. How you work those things into your film is up to you. Just make sure judges can detect them.

What are judges looking for?

Story is paramount. You might not have the best equipment, but if you have a good story, you have a good chance of taking “Best of Show” or “Best of” your category! Judges are also looking for the required elements that you were assigned. Content worth Consuming is a big deal for PGFC judges (see separate page for an explanation of that). Judges also love creativity in the use of the assigned elements.

I’m reading about “Content worth Consuming.” What is that all about?

The host institution behind the PGFC is Dordt College, a Christian college in the Reformed tradition. We think awesome stories can be told without resorting to gratuitous sex, language, adult situations, or going to the lowest common denominator in what passes as humor today. Our challenge to you is this: tell your story–whatever it is–without resorting to those things. It can be done. And your story–and viewers–will be better off for it.

What if I have questions before or during the 48-hour competition?

We monitor this address: pgfc@dordt.edu. Be sure to include your name, your team name, and a very clear account of what you need so we can answer quickly and thoroughly.

How will I know if I won?

Our Awards Ceremony is a big deal! First, we screen all the films (unless they were deemed not to be content worth consuming). Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 films are screened on the campus of Dordt College. Spectators and teams get dressed up and take in as many screenings as they can. At 8pm, everyone moves to the BJ Haan Auditorium for the awards ceremony. Top point-getting films in each category are revealed and screened. Winning teams come down the red carpet to receive their awards, giant checks, and photo ops.

What if I live too far away to attend the Awards Ceremony?

While we hope every team can come for the big reveal, we understand that this is not always possible. We live-stream the event so you can watch the entire ceremony.

Do I have to be present to win?

No, you do not. Winning films are screened and awarded, whether the film team can be there or not. Of course, being there to personally receive the acknowledgment is priceless! If you can’t be with us, we ask you to arrange a proxy to be there on your behalf. If your team wins, we need someone to come forward to receive the winnings.

Should I get dressed up for the Screening and Awards Ceremony?

Yes! We work hard to make this a very classy event. You’ll see tuxedos, bow ties, dresses, heels, the works. This is your “academy award” moment, so dress up!

What does a team get if they win?

Each category winner (Best of High School, College or Post College) gets a beautiful, one-of-a-kind plaque to keep, plus a check for $250. The winner of “Best of Show” also gets $250, plus a beautiful, cut-glass award that will grace any book shelf or awards shelf for decades to come. Winner of “People’s Choice Award” gets $150, plus bragging rights.

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The Details 

When & Where

Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 6PM, is the final day to register your team. January 16, 17 and 18, 2020, are the dates you need to mark on your calendar as “sleep optional.” At 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 16, you and your team will receive up to four elements: 

Genre, Prop, Line of dialogue & Character

Once you know these four things, you can get started. Your video needs to be uploaded by 4 p.m. (CST) on Saturday, January 18, 2020.

Cost

Entrance fee to compete in the Prairie Grass Film Challenge is $35 per team and must be paid online at the time of registration.

There is NO early registration discount.

How to enter

To enter this competition, submit the Registration Form and pay by January 14, 2020!

If you can’t complete this online for some reason, contact us.

Category Breakdown

HIGH SCHOOL

If you want to enter the high school category, everyone on your PRODUCTION team must be in high school.

COLLEGE

If your PRODUCTION team includes a college student, you will automatically be moved into the college category.

POST - COLLEGE

If your PRODUCTION team includes someone who is post-college age, you will be moved into the post-college category.

This does NOT include your actors or musicians-they can be of any age. The oldest member of Your PRODUCTION team determines which category you will compete in. For example, if your production team (producer, director, cameraman, editor, etc.) is made up of high school students, but your writer is a college-aged you will compete in the college category.

The Rules

  1. Open to all levels of experience. Beginning filmmakers as well as advanced are welcome to participate. Must be high school age or older.
  2. All filming and writing must be done during the official 48-Hour competition. Inclusion of film/script not shot/written during this time will mean disqualification. Original content–generated during the 48 hours by your registered team –is required. This includes the script. Scripts taken from the internet–even with permission–will be disqualified. Scripts must be generated in the allotted 48-hour period.
  3. Production cannot begin until the team receives an email. What you may do beforehand is scout for locations, recruit talent, line up music, and get releases signed. Films must be uploaded by 4 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on Saturday.
  4. Films submitted after the official deadline will be penalized one point for every minute late. A film submitted at 4:05 p.m., for example, will automatically have five points deducted before judging begins. Films will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, for a total of 30-points deduction. Films will not be accepted after 4:30 p.m.
  5. Final product will be uploaded via your website Portal. PGFC Headquarters will send you instructions. Be sure to include the following information:
      • Team name
      • Producer’s name
      • Video title
      • Length in minutes of the actual video (not including opening slates and closing credits.)
  6. You may NOT upload/post your video anywhere else until AFTER the Awards Ceremony in February. After the Awards Ceremony, you may post your video anywhere and enter it into other competitions.
  7. The film must be deemed by the judges as content worth consuming. While foul language and questionable morals are acceptable if they help tell the story, be aware that use of such may hurt your chances of winning and/or having your film screened. Please follow the link to read more about content worth consuming.
  8. You may have up to eight people involved in production, not counting your actors and musicians.
  9. Your production team determines your category. If you want to enter the high school category, everyone on your production team must be in high school. If your high school team also includes a college student, you will automatically be moved into the college category. If your team includes someone who is post-college age, you will automatically be moved into the post-college category. This does NOT include your actors or musicians-they can be of any age. Your PRODUCTION team determines which category you will compete in. If your production team (producer, director, cameraman, editor, etc.) is made up of all college students, you will compete in the college category.
  10. Your film must be a minimum of five minutes and a maximum of eight minutes.
  11. Finished films must begin with the following fields as white words on a black background: Team name, film name, genre. These words are NOT part of the five-minute minimum and eight-minute maximum.
  12. Credits can be no more than 60 seconds. Credits are not part of the eight-minute length of the film (eight-minute film + 60-second credits = nine minutes total).
  13. All cast and crew must be volunteers. You cannot pay professionals to do the work for you. Professionals may volunteer to be part of your crew but cannot receive payment for their work.
  14. Teams submit talent and location releases to the project organizers with the finished video. Videos without talent and location releases will not be eligible for awards.
  15. By entering this competition, you give Dordt College permission to contact you, and use your film, and/or likeness, for any promotional needs now and in the future, in current forms or forms still unknown. 
  16. You must have the rights to the music you use in your video. Since it is very difficult to get rights in a short time from national artists, groups are encouraged to work with local composers and musicians or to use royalty-free music for the videos. If you use music from local bands/composers, you must present a signed release form from them giving you permission to use their music.
  17. Each team must complete all forms in their team portal.
  18. The final piece of your film is worth 2 points. For an easy 2 points, your film must end with white words on a black background. Words must say, “This film made for the 2020 Prairie Grass Film Challenge.”
  19. To be accepted as a Prairie Grass Film Challenge film, each participating group’s film/video production must follow all rules herein. The Prairie Grass Film Challenge organizers reserve the right to judge and screen only certified Prairie Grass Film Challenge films.
  20. All certified Prairie Grass Film Challenge films are eligible for judging. A panel of independent judges will make final recommendations to the executive committee. The executive committee will make final award decisions.
  21. Prairie Grass Film Challenge organizers reserve the right to amend these rules up until the beginning of the challenge.

Now you know everything time to register!

Registration is done online. Once you pay the entrance fee you will also have to fill in some registration forms so we know who your team is, how to contact you via email, etc.

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