Guidelines and Forms


Since 2004, ACU FilmFest has provided students of any major the opportunity to develop their skills in film production, storytelling, and working on collaborative teams. FilmFest experience prepares students for future work in media, entertainment, business, and any field where producing creative products on a deadline and a budget is valued.


Beginning each fall semester, students organize into production teams around original projects they write, film, and edit. Throughout the year, ACU alumni and film professionals offer workshops and production and post-production feedback in sessions hosted by FilmFest. Then in the spring semester final short films are submitted and the best work produced by students that year premieres at the annual FilmFest Gala. At the end of the festival, student teams have the opportunity to receive in-depth feedback from industry professionals as well as guidance on careers in film and media.


Each year FilmFest premiers student films at a public screening for the ACU and Abilene community. Since the FilmFest Gala each spring is an ACU-sponsored event, student films selected each year need to abide by the ACU Student Handbook and the following production and content policies.


All participants must meet the requirements listed below. Failure to do so may result in disqualification of a film or team from FilmFest.

  1. FilmFest is open to all ACU students. Non-students are allowed to participate given the following stipulations:
    • Production teams must include a majority of ACU students.
    • A “student” is defined as someone enrolled in at least 12 hours at ACU as an undergraduate or at least 9 hours at the graduate level during the fall or spring preceding the Gala. 
    • Non-students are not eligible for awards or prizes.
    • ACU faculty and staff may not fill a production role but may contribute as actors or consultants on films. 
    • Films must be written, directed, and produced by ACU students. 
  2. FilmFest production teams must meet all submission deadlines. 
    • Students may begin working on films in the fall or spring semester, but teams must share production plans, scripts, and shooting schedules with the FilmFest Director. 
  3. FilmFest teams must make an effort to attend all FilmFest meetings and workshops.
    • Attendance is taken for all scheduled meetings and workshops and important topics of concern for all films will be discussed. Make sure to sign in.
    • At least one team member must be present from each film production team though the entire team may attend. Those attending should ensure any updates from meetings are communicated back to their production team.

Getting Started

Before films begin production, participants will need to begin planning by sharing the following details with the FilmFest Director.

  1. Each FilmFest Team must designate a Producer who will submit the FilmFest Participation Form on behalf of their team. 
    • To begin the process, they will need a working title for their film/project and then names and phone numbers for a Director, Writer, and Producer.
    • Roles may be filled by more than one person at this stage or individuals may fill more than one role, but we do need a clear leadership team for each film from the start.
    • The Producer will continue to be the point of contact for all communications through the production process. 
  2. The Producer, Director, and Writer will review all policies and due dates and send any questions to the FilmFest Director.
  3. All scripts must be approved by the FilmFest committee before teams begin filming. Please submit to by the deadline. The FilmFest committee is made up of the FilmFest Director and representatives from the Learning Studio, Student Life, and the ACU faculty.
  4. Films can be a maximum of 10 minutes long, but successful films have often been shorter.
  5. Films must adhere to MPAA PG guidelines and content must comply with the ACU Student Handbook. (See Content Policies below.)
  6. Production teams must manage a budget and document actual spending in the production notebook. 
  7. There are no limitations on the types of video equipment or software used during FilmFest. Student teams are responsible for any misuse of or damage to equipment or missed deadlines due to technical failure.

Production Notebook

During the production period, Producers will keep the following records for later submission with completed films. 

  1. Final approved shooting script
  2. Complete list of production team and actors (use full names)
    • Director
    • Producer
    • Writer
    • Editor
    • Cinematographer
    • Production Designer
    • Sound Designer
    • Original Music (if applicable)
    • Visual Effects (if applicable)
    • Animation
    • Cast (with speaking roles)
    • Background Actors 
      • Participants may fill more than one role and positions may include more than one name
      • Non-ACU students must be indicated on the form
      • Since final awards will be based on roles submitted on this list, please list the student most responsible for work in that area first in each category.
  3. Signed General Release for all actors, locations, and music
  4. At least 5 production photos that illustrate the making of each film.
    • Behind-the Scenes or Process photos should show the work of actors and production members on set. 
    • Submitted photos may be used for web, video, or print pieces promoting FilmFest events. 
  5.  Spreadsheet breakdown of production costs, equipment, and software
    • Receipts and invoices for production costs such as costumes, practical effects, equipment rentals, and any products purchased with the intent of furthering the film production must be included.
    • Also include the source of audio and video equipment used (personal equipment, rented, or borrowed from Learning Studio or another on-campus source)
    • Finally any software used (personal or campus license)
  6.  Include a list of workshop participation including dates and name of team members in attendance. 
  7. Any other process documents including shooting schedules, call sheets, storyboards, or other files that demonstrate the work of the Producer or production team.

Final Submission

To be considered for screening at the FilmFest Gala, production teams must submit completed production folders along with their final completed film. Failure to do so may result in disqualification of a film or team from FilmFest.

  1. Teams must submit an external drive or Google Drive folder with the following:
    • Production Notebook (all elements listed above)
    • Final Shooting Script
    • Final Film (in 1080 HD or 4k resolution, MP4, M4V, or MOV format)
    • Production Photos (full-resolution image files)
    • Film Poster (24″ x 36″ PDF or JPG at least 150dpi)
  2. External drives should be labeled with the owner’s name and contact information and delivered to staff at the main Learning Studio desk. 
  3. Alternatively, Google Drive folders can be shared with (with Editor access). 
  4. Submitting a completed production notebook and film does not qualify films to be screened at the Gala. The final film selections will be made by the FilmFest committee.

Content Policies

Final submitted films must abide by community guidelines that support the ACU campus community. Failure to do so may result in disqualification of a film or team from FilmFest.

  1. All films abide by the policies and spirit of the ACU Student Handbook.  
  2. Films must adhere to MPAA PG guidelines. 
  3. Alcohol may be represented in student films when appropriate to the story and age of the characters. 
  4. Tobacco may be shown but not be consumed in a student film. 
  5. Illegal drugs may not be shown or consumed in a student film. 
  6. Filming with weapons (knives or firearms) can be dangerous on professional sets. Real weapons may not be used or shown in student films. Replica or prop weapons may be used, with approval from the Film Fest Director, after sharing and reviewing a production plan with the FilmFest Director and ACU Police. 
    • One week before the proposed filming date, contact ACU PD (325-674-2305 or to submit a schedule of filming days, locations, and prop weapons to be used on set. They will share this information with Abilene PD as appropriate. 
  7. Filming in and around motor vehicles can be dangerous on professional sets. FilmFest recommends extreme care when filming in cars including disabling airbags when filming in a front passenger seat or using a mounted camera. Filming from the outside of a moving vehicle or any shots that put students in danger may disqualify a film.
  8. Sexually-explicit language or scenes may not appear in a student film including any suggestion of nudity or couples in bed.  

Awards and Prizes

Each year at the FilmFest Gala, the best work in student films will be honored with awards in performance and production categories.

  1. Awards and prizes will be selected by FilmFest judges selected from a panel of ACU alumni and industry professionals.
  2. Individual awards will be given based on achievement in a range of production and performance roles. We typically award only one person in each category, but an individual may win multiple awards.
  3. Current full-time ACU students who are enrolled in at least 12 hours at the undergraduate level and 9 hours at the graduate level will be eligible for awards or prizes. 
  4. Non-students are welcome to all FilmFest events and feedback sessions but are not eligible for awards.


Submission of a complete film entry in the ACU FilmFest grants ACU permission to show the work at the festival and have the work reproduced online or on campus, either in whole or in part, for educational or promotional purposes in the future.


All entries using copyrighted material must obtain written permission to use the material. Documentation showing permission from the rights holder must be submitted with the production notebook. Examples of copyrighted material may include: popular music, stock video footage and still photographs. It is the filmmaker’s responsibility to obtain rights, clearances and permission. ACU FilmFest assumes no responsibility for violation of copyright law.

For questions about the use of copyrighted material and alternatives for both music and visual material, set up an appointment to talk to a filmmaker in the Learning Studio.


The organizers of FilmFest discourage students from engaging in any activity or action involved in the production process deemed hazardous or that exposes students to unnecessary risk or potential harm. Students taking risks do so of their own accord and ACU, or the organizers of FilmFest, cannot be held responsible for injuries or harm to property occurring during the course of participation in the event.