Heed the call of cinematic horror.

Compete for gory glory in northwest Vermont's biggest amateur film festival.

Create a 5-10 minute short film for the area's only film festival. Amateur and experienced filmmakers welcome.

Some ground-rules first: Here's everything you need to know before creating your horror film for Northwest Nightmares:


There are a few creative guidelines you'll need to be aware of as you write, produce, and edit.

Horror is the primary theme, but feel free to blend it with other genres (action, thriller, comedy, sci-fi, mystery, etc.).

Just keep in mind that your film will be judged on its qualities as a horror film first and foremost.

Your final film must be between (5) and (10) minutes long—a film's intro sequence and end credits do not contribute to its total runtime.

Intro Sequence
An introductory sequence [?] is found at the beginning of a film and sets the mood for the audience—we recommend working titles into your movie in a creative way that adds context to your story.

An intro sequence must include:

  • Your film's title.
  • Your team name.

A static intro sequence (solid color background with text) must be under (1) minute long.

End Credits
End credits [?] are essential. Your film should close with a list of everyone and everything that went into the creation of your film. This includes:

  • Cast names and characters.
  • Crew names and roles.
  • Your team's city or town.
  • Media credits (the names/titles of any music, videos, and/or images you get permission to use).

End credits must be under (1) minute long.

Video Format
After editing, export your film in an HD 16:9 or Cinema 2k aspect ratio [?] (the size of your video). Exact specifications:

  • Best: Cinema 2K [?]: 2048 x 858 resolution.
  • HD 16:9 [?]: 1920 x 1080 resolution.
  • Export as an .mov or .mp4 file.
  • 2-channel stereo audio is highly recommended. But if you can mix 5.1 surround sound, definitely do that.

Your horror film should conform to the MPAA's PG-13 rating [?], with a few exceptions.

  • Drug use. The graphic depiction or use of drugs and alcohol must be kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Language. Explicit language should be kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Violence. Avoid including scenes of prolonged graphic violence, sexualized violence, and extreme gore in your film.

Legal & Copyright
We pride ourselves on screening entirely original work. Some legal information to keep in mind:

  • Copyright
    Your film will air on broadcast television—the unauthorized use of copyrighted music, videos, or images in your film is not allowed. Written permission from and end credit attribution to the copyright holder is required.
  • Privacy & Defamation
    Your film cannot contain defamatory statements targeting individuals, groups, organizations, or companies and you may not infringe on their privacy rights.

Submitting a film to the festival requires you to get written permission from any actors, private landowners, and media creators featured in your film.

We may request you produce these documents prior to the screening.


Joining the festival, entering your team information, and submitting your film is all done online.

You can register and submit your film prior to the October 23rd deadline via FilmFreeWay.com.

It's $40 to enter a film. Entry fees aren't refundable, and each team is independently responsible for funding their film and paying the entry fee.

Film submissions

You can upload your video file privately via FilmFreeWay or by adding a Vimeo or Youtube link.

Signing Up
Create an account with FilmFreeWay—fill out the basic name and contact information.

Once you've completed the quick registration process you'll be asked to create a project—this is where you'll add your team name, film details, and upload or link your file.

Upload a file
If you'd like to upload your film directly to FilmFreeWay from your computer, upload a file.

Make sure the video is set to private (default) and give film festivals permissions to view and download automatically.

Add a link
If you're adding a link, your video must be set to "unlisted" (Youtube) or have a password (Vimeo).

This keeps the video from being viewed by the public ahead of the film premiere—it'd be a shame to ruin the fun!

Submit your project
We'll explain more about this after the announcement date.

Need help? Visit FilmFreeWay's help center or ask us a question using our contact form under "Questions."


Making a film is best done safely, legally, and honestly. Below is legal information you agree to by entering our film festival.

By submitting a film in the Northwest Nightmares Film Festival, entrants. . .

  • Warrant and represent that they own all rights to their film ("the entry").
  • Have obtained written permission from all actors, film location owners, and copyright holders that appear in the entry.
  • Bear all claims and/or damages resulting from the entry.
  • Understand and agree that the organizers of the festival are in no way responsible for any claims resulting from the entry, now or in the future.
  • Acknowledge that all music, images, and video used in the film are original and/or royalty-free. Any copyrighted works used in the film require written permission from the copyright holder, as stated above.
  • Acknowledge that no responsibility or liability is assumed by the organizers of the festival resulting from any users participation in or attempt to participate in the festival.
  • Agree that the organizers are not responsible for lost data (video or otherwise).
  • Agree that the organizers reserve the right to withhold films from screening that contain objectionable content. Films withheld may remain eligible for awards and prizes.
  • Acknowledge that the organizers are not responsible for any physical harm that may occur in the course of any entrant attempting to enter or entering the festival.

To be announced. Registration deadlines will be revealed at a later date as October approaches.

Our judges will evaluate your film on a number of different levels.

How original was your film? Did your writers and actors succeed in telling an engaging story?

How well did you demonstrate your technical skill in creating an aesthetically pleasing film in terms of video, audio, and editing?

How well did your film succeed on its merits as a horror film?

Every year we present awards to our top three winners, giving them commemorative plaques celebrating their creativity.

Our grand prize winners, however, will additionally receive hundreds of dollars in Amazon gift cards and film gear.

Need help?

Reach our organizer via email during regular business hours via the form below or directly at info@nwnightmares.com.

How do I get started? Start making your horror film now with these helpful tips.

1) Watch other entries.
Watch previous entries on our YouTube channel before making your own original film.

2) Watch award-winning horror films.
Learn from the best filmmakers in the business. A quick Google search should reveal dozens of short films to study.

3) Learn the basics.
Find filmmaking resources online—YouTube is a great place to start, and there are tons of great articles on the subject.

4) Locate a nearby media center.
Find your local media center. You can rent filmmaking equipment there for minimal or no cost.