Competition Rules, Procedures, and Notes
Note that this is not an official course of the USC
School of Cinematic Arts. It is important that ALL students
please see note (1) at the end of this page for important clarification
regarding this point. Note also that this is not connected to any of the USC SCA Sloan grants.
Eligible participants are teams of USC students only (undergraduate and
(2) Competition entries
must be from teams collaborating across disciplines, pooling talent and
expertise, sharing ideas and learning from each other. Key roles and responsibilities in the
film-making must be played by each member of the team. At least one team member has to be from a science/engineering/medicine area (in Dornsife, Viterbi, or Keck) and at least one other must be from the School of Cinematic Arts, or from the Annenberg School of Communication. Therefore teams must be a minimum of two members, and as many as desired. (Teams may use consultants, as long as they are not involved in primary aspects of the filmmaking, and the role of the consultant must be explicitly credited in the film and explaind in the submission.)
(3) The film must be
strictly no longer than 7 minutes duration, including titles and
(4) Virtual Reality Films are eligible (for the first time this year!)
(5) Films must be the
team’s own work. (See the end of point (2) about consultants - ask for clarification if unsure.) The film's primary objective must be to explain and
illustrate a scientific concept, principle, or issue, for a wide
non-expert audience. Established science only, please, not science
fiction. Narrative and genre may be chosen from a wide range, from
traditional documentary, dramatic, fiction, non-fiction, romantic,
comedic, etc... Films may be live action, animated, or any mixture
(6) Teams are encouraged to use in the film only music that they have explicit written permission to use.
They might consider using their own music (teams have included students who composed music and had it performed and recorded for the film, and there are several potential collaborators in, e.g., the Thorton School of Music for this!), or get
permission to use music of others. Note that there are many large libraries of free music available to filmmakers. As of 2012-2013, submitted films for which all music has not been permissioned (and appropriate documentation provided to prove this) are ineligible.
(7) The remarks above made about music also apply to other materials incorporated in the film such as extracts from other films, performances of others' material such as plays, poems, readings, etc. Permission must be obtained for their use, and documentation provided when the film is submitted, or the film is ineligible.
(8) Teams must register
their intent to submit an entry by 6:00pm of 15th February 2016 (deadline extended from the 12th).
Only one film per team may be submitted. Details of registration are
(Note: See the sciencefilm blog sciencefilmblog.usc.edu
and learn how to get on it and connect with other students looking to
make teams. Students found this a useful way to connect last year.)
Along with submitting
registration, teams may apply for a small grant to help with film
production costs at the same time of registering. The maximum grant
will be $350. Details are given below. Funds are limited, and so grants
will be given out on a first-come-first-served basis until they are all
(9) Final deadline for
submission of entries is 11:59pm on 8th April 2016. Details of how
to submit the films will be communicated to registered teams later in the semester.
jury of USC faculty and members of the wider community will select the
Teams must register their intent to
submit an entry to the competition. Registration must include one
(8.5x11) page with a description (summary, treatment, or outline) of
the proposed film*, and a list/breakdown of the expected roles to
played by each member of the team (e.g., writing, directing, editing,
production design, etc.). It is likely (and encouraged) to have team
members involved in several aspects of the film-making. On a second
page, the name and email address of each team member must be
given in a list of contacts, with the name of the primary contact
highlighted. A separate one page curriculum vitae of each team member
must also be submitted.
(*We recognize that the final film submitted will not neccessarily be exactly as the proposed description
outlines, so be as accurate as you can at the time of registration, but
don't feel too bound to follow it to the letter.)
Please submit your application by email as a single pdf file to sciencefilm [ at ] usc [dot] edu
with the subject line "Science Film Competition Registration". For other inquiries, please
contact Prof. Clifford Johnson at the same address, with a clear indication of the subject of your inquiry in the subject line.
Registration must be by 6:00pm of 15th February 2016.
Grant application details:
A small grant can be applied for (one per team) at the time of submitting
registration. There is a limited amount of funds for this available, so once it is all gone, no more grants can be awarded. You may apply for up to $350. Submit a paragraph or two
(no more than 200 words total) describing the specific needs for
which you intend to use this grant. While a relatively small amount, it
can help with things like camera rental, editing software, transport,
costume, studio hire, etc.
Grant applications must accompany registration.
(1) Note that this is not an
official course of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Therefore, use of
SCA equipment, insurance, filming permissions, and other production
privileges cannot be assumed to automatically apply. SCA students
should seek permission to use such facilities for this competition (many professors and administrators know about and support this competition, and even might encourage you to do a class project that can also be entered for the competition - but do check first). Of course ALL students should ensure adequate liability coverage during
film production, as well as obtaining appropriate permission for
filming on location. There is no liability coverage or automatic
permissions through this competition.
(2) We reserve the right to reject teams as
ineligible if they are not in the spirit of cross-disciplinary
collaboration outlined in the rules.
(3) Entering the competition means that all team members
consent to their submitted film being uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo (and
therefore that the content satisfies those sites' uploading criteria with
regards content, copyright, etc) for public viewing, being shown in the film
festival, and being made available on publicly viewable USC websites.
The team retains all other rights to the film.
(4) There are several faculty members from
Dornsife, Cinematic Arts, and Annenberg to chat with and seek advice
from about your competition entries during the course of the semester,
or for advice on making teams, or finding students. Email Prof. Clifford
Johnson for more about this at sciencefilm [ at ] usc [dot] edu.
More information and other resources will be announced from
time to time. Please check out sciencefilm.usc.edu regularly.
Connect via facebook and twitter to stay informed. See the sciencefilm blog sciencefilmblog.usc.edu
and learn how to get on it and connect with other students looking to
The competition is made possible by the
generous financial support of the Anton B. Burg Foundation
and the many faculty, staff and students of USC who have enthusiastically got involved in numerous ways. Thank you!