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Video Pitch Entry

2023 Submissions are Open

Pitch, write, produce, shoot and complete a 3 - 5 min short film

Submit Today

Film Challenge

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Submission Information 

COVEN Film Festival is hosting a COVEN Film Challenge - a new short film program that provides funding and support to emerging women and non-binary filmmakers from the San Francisco Bay Area to write and film a narrative short film.

The COVEN Film Challenge aims to assist emerging filmmakers in all aspects of the filmmaking process - from idea to the big screen. With an intimate knowledge of the hurdles filmmakers encounter when trying to make a short film, this Challenge hopes to provide meaningful guidance, financial support, in-kind assistance, and collaborative skill building to 5 filmmakers and projects over the course of a few months. The goal is to have a completed short film at the end of the process. This program is open to women and non-binary storytellers and it is encouraged that indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC makers submit. 

The COVEN Film Challenge is produced by Charming Stranger Films, a film production company in San Francisco that produces, directs and supports emerging independent filmmakers. Since 2012 Charming Stranger Films has professionally produced short films that have gone on to win awards at film festivals worldwide including a Northern California Emmy® for the short film “Real Artists”.

Over the course of a few months, filmmakers will be asked to pitch, write, produce, shoot, and complete a 3 - 5 min short film. The COVEN Film Challenge will provide resources and in-kind support for filmmakers to complete their short film. 


  • First, filmmakers are invited to record their short film idea in a 3-minute video based on the Story Guidelines. 

  • 20 finalists are chosen from these ideas to pitch in person to a jury of industry professionals. 

  • 5 winners workshop their script with a professional story editor. 

  • 5 winners receive a production package provided by sponsors in the local production community with everything they need to make their short film. 

  • Finished films are screened at a gala event in San Francisco. 

  • Submission proceeds directly fund the COVEN Film Challenge selected films. 

Professional Gear/Services Provided 
Professional Casting Services 
Professional Story Editor Mentorship 
Professional Editing + Color Grading + Sound Mixing 
Professional Directing/Producing/Post-Production Mentorship 
Production Insurance  
Location Fees, Permits and Production Cost Provided 
Gala Screening of finished films 
…and more   

By submitting a project for consideration to COVEN Film Challenge, you hereby acknowledge that you have read, understand and agree to all of the following terms and conditions (the “Rules and Regulations”).

The Rules and Regulations may be updated, supplemented, and/or amended at any time by COVEN Film Festival in order to comply with the Requirements. All dates, deadlines, events, and schedules set forth herein are subject to change, postponement, and/or cancellation due to circumstances.

All submissions will be given equal consideration and the final winners will be determined by the consensus of the judges. Previously submitted projects will not be considered.


  • All of the Writer(s), Director(s), and either the 1st or 2nd Lead Actor must be USA citizens and permanent residents in one of the following Bay Area Counties: Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Solano, San Francisco, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. 

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Applicants are ineligible to apply to the COVEN Film Challenge if they have worked for the COVEN Film Festival LLC in the year preceding the present application.

  • Past COVEN Film Festival winners may not apply

  • COVEN Film Challenge accepts all genres of live action scripted short films including drama, comedy, science fiction, horror, fantasy, musical, etc. We do not accept animation or documentaries.

  • Film concepts must be based on an original idea. Applicants are free to adapt any work that is currently in the public domain, which includes work created by people who have been dead more than 50 years.

  • The full run time of all completed COVEN Film Challenge short films must be at least 3 minutes in length, but shall not exceed 5 minutes in length, including on-screen credits. This translates into approximately 3-5 pages of script and is not negotiable.


Production Guidelines:  
The selected filmmakers/projects must garner 6 out of 10 COVEN Film Challenge Production points in the guidelines, which states that the production must have the following:

  • (4 Points) Director (must be a permanent resident of the Bay Area Counties) 

  • (3 Points) Writer (must be a permanent resident of the Bay Area Counties) 

  • (2 Point) Lead Actor (either 1st or 2nd lead must be must be a permanent resident of the Bay Area Counties) 

  • (1 Point) 2nd Lead Actor (must be a permanent resident of the Bay Area Counties)

Story Guidelines: 

  • COVEN Film Festival LLC will provide the location for the story to take place. The films must take place within the location determined. All applicants will be made aware of the location in a few weeks.  

  • Scripts can be no longer than 5 pages  

  • Story can have a maximum of 3 characters, minimum of 1 character  

  • Outside of the location, characters can have a maximum of 3 props per character with a maximum budget of $100 USD. 

  • It is recommended that there are no costume changes
    (Characters all have one costume each).  

  • The story must take place at any time of year (rain or shine)  

  • The story must be set during the day.



  • COVEN Film Festival, LLC will own the finished films. Filmmakers will be encouraged to screen their films at film festivals and non-theatrical screening opportunities, allowing them to use the film to promote themselves as filmmakers. The filmmakers are responsible for their own film festival entry fees. 

  • Filmmakers keep 100% of film festival cash awards 

  • Filmmakers will retain the rights to produce sequels, feature films, television series, web series, or any other production based on their COVEN Film Festival LLC short films. 

  • COVEN Film Festival LLC will work to sell the finished films on DVD and/or Blu-ray, to broadcasters, and through various other distribution methods. We also encourage the filmmakers to take
    an active hand in the distribution of their films. 


Please read through carefully. Many of the dates below require
in-person attendance and production schedule. Filmmakers must be able to meet on these dates in order to participate in the COVEN Film Challenge. 

One or more of the foregoing dates and/or events may be postponed, canceled, rescheduled, conducted online, or subject to restrictions on attendance due to COVID-19 concerns and health and safety.



    (11:59 pm Pacific Time)

Video Pitch: 

    (11:59 pm Pacific Time)


  • April 22 & 23: IN-PERSON PITCH SESSIONS (Director must attend) 


Script Writing: 



  • May 19th: FINAL SCRIPT SUBMISSION deadline

Production & Post: 

  • June 2nd: Production Workshop (Director, Writer, and Producer must attend) 

  • June 12, 13, 14, 15, 16: PRODUCTION (1 Day of Principle Photography for each winning team)  

  • June 13, 14, 15, 16, 17: POST-PRODUCTION (1 Day of Post for each winning team) 




See SCHEDULE above for specific dates.

  • At least one of the Writer(s) or Director(s) must participate in the video pitch. This can be the same person. 

  • Video pitches longer than 3 minutes will not be accepted. The pitch should contain the beginning, middle and end of the story. 

  • Each video pitch must start with a slate containing the name of the project and name of the Director(s), Writer(s). Please mention any other roles that the jury should know about, e.g: proposed Lead Actor… etc. 

  • Video pitches are adjudicated by a panel of industry professionals. COVEN Film Challenge staff do not adjudicate the video pitches.

(See SCHEDULE above for specific dates)

  • The Director and/or Writer must be present for the in-person
    pitch. If the Director and/or Writer cannot attend in person, they must be available by visual conference (Google, Zoom, Skype, Facetime etc.) 

  • Selected filmmakers will have 5 minutes to pitch their story and themselves to the jury, followed by 5 minutes for questions. 

  • No reels are permitted as part of your in-person pitch – this is primarily a verbal pitch. Selected filmmakers are asked to bring a short synopsis of their project and a bio, printed on a single page.

*Note: The In-Person Pitch sessions may be conducted completely online if required by public health and safety and welfare guidelines related to COVID-19*

(See SCHEDULE above for specific dates)

  • The Winning Filmmakers selected will go into the story editing phase and will be required to sign a legal disclaimer stating that their film concept is based on their original idea to which they have the rights; or the filmmakers will need to provide documentation showing they have the rights to adapt the original idea. This documentation must be provided by the First Draft Script submission deadline of May 5, 2023. 

  • Each Winning Filmmakers will be assigned an industry professional Script Editor who will work with the project/team until delivery of the final script to the script evaluation jury. Consultation with the Script Editor may be conducted in person or online or both. The Writer(s) and/or Director(s) must attend the first Script Editing consultation session. 

  • The Filmmakers Teams will deliver a final script, with a minimum length of 3 pages and a maximum length of 5 pages, in an industry-standard script format.

(See SCHEDULE above for specific dates)

  • The Writer(s) and/or Director(s) of the 5 Winning Filmmakers will need to sign a Transfer of Rights Agreement with the COVEN Film Festival LLC before going into production. 

  • The Winning Filmmakers will receive camera, lighting and grip packages and mentorship throughout the duration of the production and delivery of their final films. Director Mentors, Producer Mentors, Script Editor Mentors, and Post Production Mentors will be available to the Filmmakers. 

  • The Winning Filmmakers are required to attend a production workshop leading up to production. (See SCHEDULE above for workshop dates) 

  • Each Winning Filmmakers are encouraged to assist other Winning Filmmakers film shoots during the week of Production (See SCHEDULE above for Production Week). This will ensure that various roles will be filled on set.  

  • Final completed films will be delivered to COVEN Film Festival LLC on June 21, 2023. 

  • The final completed films will be shown at a Gala Screening and Afterparty slated for June 27, 2023 at a theatrical venue in San Francisco. 

*Note: The Gala Screening and Afterparty may be postponed, canceled, rescheduled, conducted online, or subject to restrictions on attendance due to COVID-19 concerns or to comply with the Requirements.*


COVEN Film Challenge reserves the right, in its sole and unfettered discretion, to cancel, postpone, or reschedule any or all of the COVEN programs, events or activities associated therewith, due to COVID-19 concerns or in order to comply with the requirements.

Applicants and their crews hereby release, defend, indemnify, and hold harmless COVEN Film Challenge and COVEN Film Festival LLC, its members, directors, employees, students, interns and personnel from any and all claims, liabilities, costs, expenses, and damages for any and all damage, loss or liability (including, without limitation, claims arising from negligence, or relating to personal injury, property damage, illness, and wrongful death) suffered as a result of, in connection with, or arising from their participation in the COVEN Film Challenge or any events or activities associated therewith including as a result of exposure to COVID-19 from any other individual participating in or associated with the COVEN Film Challenge.

Applicants and their crews further release, defend, indemnify, and hold harmless COVEN Film Challenge and COVEN Film Festival LLC, its members, directors, employees, and personnel from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, costs, expenses, and damages due to the cancellation, postponement, or rescheduling of any or all of the COVEN Film Challenge at any time for any reason, including due to COVID-19 concerns or if required to comply with the Requirements.

By applying to the COVEN Film Challenge each applicant and their team consents to COVEN Film Festival LLC their names, city of residence, photographs, voice and/or image for publicity purposes in all media, without payment, compensation, or notification.

COVEN Film Festival LLC reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the COVEN Film Challenge due to force majeure, or circumstances or situations beyond their reasonable control such as strikes, lock-outs, labour disputes, war, riot, insurrection, earthquake, terrorism, civil commotion, fire, flood, accident, storm or any other act of nature. 

*Terms and conditions updated November 14th, 2022.*


  • November 15, 2022
    Opening Date

  • December 5, 2022
    Earlybird Deadline

  • January 26, 2023
    Regular Deadline

  • February 15, 2023
    Late Deadline

  • February 17, 2023
    Notification Date


  • April 22 – June 27, 2023


Video Pitch Entry

  • Earlybird: $50

  • Regular: $75

  • Late: $100

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