Judges Criteria Overview

Indie Film festival

********  SCORING OVERVIEW ********

Below is an overview of some of the criteria the judges utilize when they are scoring an entry.

Judges score the film using a numerical value for each of the elements (below) that they review.  Once all elements have been scored  – they are added up and the total score determines if the film qualifies for an award.  The different award levels are determined by the total score.

Slight adjustments to the scoring are made for students (based on their grade level) and for filmmakers 17-years and under.

******** ALL ENTRIES ********

Cinematography / Focus – Shots are all in focus- 100% of the film. Creativity in shot list, angles and scenes. Scenes are filmed at the correct exposure. Exposure is consistent throughout the piece.

Audio – The audio is clear, clean, leveled, not over-modulated and consistent throughout the film. There are no obvious dubs. No obvious sound differences between characters in the same scene or between scenes due to different microphones or microphone levels.

Sound mix – All dialog, soundtrack and under-bed music tracks are crisp, clear (no unintended hiss, echo or artifact sounds) and at the correct volume levels to adequately hear the dialog over the music or sounds. All foley and background sounds are appropriate and well done.

Music – The music is appropriate to the film delivering the right emotion for the scene. It is at the correct levels throughout the piece and does not spike disproportionately at any point. It never overpowers the dialog.

Editing – The piece is put together with appropriately timed elements. Special effects and transitions are used fittingly for the piece. No cuts are made in mid dialog or musical beats.  The editing is paced to the tone of the piece.

Lighting – The lighting is even at all times with no dark or overblown spots. If there are night or dark scenes – the subjects are still easily visible to the viewer. The subjects are always well lit to be visible to the viewer in each and every scene.

Color – The color is consistent and realistic throughout the whole film (or consistent with intentional color design and styling throughout the piece).

Emotional Impact – The film clearly elicits the desired emotional response from the viewer.

Green Screen – For all scenes involving green screen –  the edges of the subject are clean with no obvious artifacts from background removal. The background image is in appropriate size, aspect ratio and perspective. The subject and background are well lit to seamlessly blend together.

Background images / stock footage – All background images are sharp, lit in the same temperature as the rest of the piece and no “watermark” from the company selling the background images / footage is visible.

Film Crew – The crew of the film are never “accidentally” seen in the shot (IE: in scenes that have mirrors, window glass or other reflective surfaces), the boom mic is never seen anywhere in the frame, etc.

Script – The script is well laid out to deliver the message of the piece and well written to support plot lines or information.

Plot Clarity – The film’s plot / intention is understood by the viewer. The piece must not be so esoteric that it can only be understood by reading the notes. Even experimental and avant-garde films must be ultimately fully understood by the viewer with no additional explanation required.

Direction – The film flows at an appropriate pace, the actors and locations are carefully chosen and utilized to deliver the intention of the scene (or places and interviewees for a doc), the scenes flow appropriately between takes. The artistic and dramatic aspects are consistent and the technical crew carry out the vision.

******** FICTION ********

Storyline – The plots and sub-plots are well laid out and understood by the viewer eliciting the appropriate response to the story.

Acting – The actors make the audience believe they are actually the character. They feel authentic and portray the range of emotions of the character. Line delivery and emotion must be believable.

Characters / Casting – The characters are interesting, well written and well-acted. The actor is well suited for the role and the chemistry between the characters is present

Structure / Style – The structure of the piece is appropriate to the story and supports the film. Creative style and approach fully support the piece and are not distracting from the story.  Transitions and effects are appropriately used to support the film and not distract from it.

Writing / Dialog – The script is illustrative and entertaining for the genre it portrays. The lines for the actors are consistent with the character and deliver the desired emotional response from the viewer.

Direction – The film’s pacing, acting, plot lines, character development and themes are all professionally presented and consistent. All elements of post-production are fully integrated into the constant whole of the piece.

Attention to detail – All the elements of a scene are high quality and appropriate to the piece. Period costumes are authentic. Cinematographers / production equipment are never accidentally in the scene. Continuity is assured for every scene even if completed in different takes.

Continuity – There is perfect continuity for the film. Things like props, actor positions, elements (like hairstyle, background images) are all consistent across takes.

Special effects – Are professional and well done. Not overused and distracting to the story-line.

******** NON-FICTION / DOCUMENTARY ********

Tight Narrative – The intention / vision for the piece is clear, strong and informs every creative and editorial step to stay on point with the message.

FACTS! – Non-fiction represents real life circumstances.  ALL assertions that are presented as “facts” are backed up with appropriate documentation, expert testimony and reliable sources.  If the piece is about “opinions” vs facts – that should be made clear and not conflated as “factual reality”.

Message – There is a clear and compelling message that drives all aspects of the film and is clear to the viewer.

Set-Up – The film is well laid out with an over-arching theme supported by the film’s story-lines and scenes. There is a clear and compelling initial set-up that guides the viewers, not just a series of shots edited together with no set up or consistent threads that weave the story together.

Length – The film is tightly woven and presented in the shortest time possible to fully illustrate the story. No extraneous / unnecessary scenes that do not support the narrative.

Reconstructions – The film portrays reconstructions of events in a professional and interesting way with appropriate period costumes and details.

Overarching Theme / Purpose – The film portrays more than just an interesting subject (person) and asks a broader question or illustrates a bigger viewpoint.

Research – The film is well researched and thoroughly presents the issues. If there are multiple sides they are presented.

Narration – The narration is professional with appropriate inflection and cadence. The audio mix is appropriate with narration clearly heard above under-beds or music levels.

On Camera talent – The on-camera talent is professional and easy to understand. No obvious teleprompter reading and talent is never seen obviously looking at prompter or other cues.

Focus – All of the subject interviews are in focus during the entire interview.  The subject’s face is the focus – not an accidental focus on something in the background.

******** OBJECTIVE REVIEW ********

It is helpful to receive objective reviews and feedback for your film.  It is normal for a filmmaker to be attached to their piece and to have put so much of their time, energy and passion into it – that it might be harder to be objective about the final produced piece.   We recommend enlisting a completely impartial person to deliver honest feedback.  (Of course, we all love our family and friends and lean on them to give us feedback in our endeavors – though they are often not as impartial a source of feedback as you might be seeking)