21-Day Filmmaking Competition Team Newsletter #3

August 4, 2011 in Uncategorized by admin

Dear 21-Day Team Leader,

THE ELEMENT: “START WITH A CRASH” <– just in case you forgot. This idea has to appear somewhere, in some form, in your film.

Also, remember this link:


If you haven’t clicked and saved it yet, do so now. You’ll want these files on set with you, as well as with your video files for editing purposes! It contains all your forms, as well as graphics and logos for your use however you’d like.

Okay, enough about paperwork. How do you make your film? Hopefully, you are already underway. Regardless, for those who need help…


Most of these are on the website, so we won’t cover them here in too much detail. For the OFFICIAL Rules, go here.

The other rule worth mentioning is STOCK MUSIC. Just like stock footage, if you’re going to use stock music, make sure it’s okay for COMMERCIAL USE. Many royalty-free music libraries cover non-commercial uses only. Distributing a film on a compilation on Amazon.com (as we try to do) or through other commercial outlets is most definitely commercial! So if you want to get full exposure for your film, make SURE the terms of use for that particular library/song/group covers commercial uses. Besides, there are dozens of awesome musicians in our network and in your area who would kill for the exposure, and you can be sure nobody else has the same song or score that way.

The other question we get a lot is about the DEADLINE. The Drop Event exists for convenience sake. If you want to make absolutely sure we got it on time, deliver it to us at Lucky Strike in Philadelphia on August 20th between 4:00 and 6:00 pm and we’ll mark you as “accepted” on the spot. HOWEVER, if you are running behind, or from out of town, it needs to be POSTMARKED and TIMESTAMPED by 6:00pm EDT. Since it is a Saturday, many post offices close by 2pm, or noon. Be familiar with your closest post office and its hours. They will NOT stay open until 6, that’s for sure. But if you’re in another time zone, you might get lucky and find one that will stay open until 3 or 4 your time. And regardless of where you are, you know who probably will have open offices? FedEx. And they will also time stamp your package while you’re standing at the counter. So as long as you got it in to them before 6, you’re gold. (We’re not officially endorsing FedEx, we just know they’ve been a godsend for teams in the past.) If we can’t prove your film was mailed prior to the deadline, you’re out of luck. The best way of proving it is a timestamp from the company.


This competition is about connections andI exposure as much as anything. If we do not have a website for your team, we won’t be able to show them all the cool stuff you’re doing, or keep tabs on your marketing/promotional efforts for those of you going for the Marketing Award. Here is the list of competing Teams, with links to the websites of those we DO have. If your Team does not have a link, and you want it to, please contact us and we’ll hook it up! That will also help us feature your videos on the home page of our site with the other crazy people who make supplemental videos during their 21 days. Note: it’s a YouTube playlist, so while you’re welcome to upload videos to other sites, we can only include YouTube videos in the official Playlist.


From experience, we’re going to throw you a couple of bones to help you make the best film possible, based on what we’ve seen in previous years. These will especially help those of you who haven’t made a film before, or for whom it’s been a while:

1) Use lighting where possible. Darkness kills movies, unless you’re making a horror film. And even then, it’s easy to tell when the darkness is intentional or because of a lack of equipment. Even $5 clamp lights from Home Depot are better than nothing if your location is just too dark. Also, if you’re using auto-settings, turn off the auto-gain. There’s nothing worse than seeing more grain than image. See also: try not to use auto-settings. :)

2) If possible, get an external microphone, and somebody who can use it. The camera mic is not going to cut it… just trust us on this one. If your camera has a shotgun mic attached, that will get you by in a pinch, but finding a good boom op or sound recordist as well will be well worth your time!

3) Writing is important! This first week should be spent on the script. We know film schools, especially those in Philly, teach you to try to do everything yourself. But especially if you think directing or producing is more your strong point than writing, there’s no shame in having someone else write your opus. In fact, it’s a huge advantage to not have to focus on that at the same time as producing. The same goes for actors by the way. Actors are DYING to work with you… why would you need to cast your friends (unless you’re all actors)? That shows too.

4) Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Every year, up to 1/3 of our teams disappear or do not finish on time. Usually the reason is taking on a project too ambitious. Find a project that can be shot WELL in three weeks. Save your feature-length idea for your next project (which you can submit to the Philadelphia Filmathon). Our winning film the first year, In Zakk’s Case, had maybe three locations, and no special effects, but a great script, good lighting (outside during magic hour), and dialog you could hear. Sometimes that’s all it takes!


This is your film, be sure to make a film you want to make. Trust us, it’ll show. AND you’ll be able to use it over and over after our festival ends. 21-Day Competition films have screened all over the country, and many have received TV airplay as well!

Lastly, if you have questions on any of the above, or anything else we didn’t cover while you’re filming, call or email us. We’re here to answer your questions and make sure you make the best film possible. And as always, thanks for participating in the 21-Day Filmmaking Competition. We guarantee you won’t regret it, and in fact, we hope it’s one of the best filmmaking experiences you ever have.


Stephanie Yuhas, Executive Producer
Matt Conant, Artistic Director

Project Twenty1
Exhibit. Promote. Inspire. Connect.
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