Festival Rules


These rules may be changed for any reason, at any time at the discretion of Z-Fest Film Festival.


Teams and Team Leaders

Films can be produced by individuals or by teams. There is no limit on the number of members of a film team. Each team must have one designated leader who will be responsible for the communication, correspondence, turn-in and adherence to the rules. Individuals may be involved in the production of more than one film for the festival.

Z-Fest Film Exclusivity and Rights

Production on a Z-Fest film can only begin once that team’s festival application is accepted. Once Z-Fest is over, Z-Fest owns non-exclusive rights to show all films online and in all venues around the world. Filmmakers are free to do whatever their like with their films after the festival is over. Z-Fest will hold films from being screened publicly until October 1st, 2018 upon request by your team leader, in order to allow teams to submit their Z-Fest films to other film festivals. If it is discovered that work has been done on a film before that film was accepted to Z-Fest, the team will be disqualified from the festival.

Control Element

In order to ensure that films have not been produced for Z-Fest in advance, all films are required to contain a control element. Teams will submit a photo of their control element for approval. The control element is not valid until it has been approved. Teams are required to submit a time-stamp of when their control element appears during the film. Films without an approved control element are disqualified.  For more info on this year’s control element guidelines, click here.

Registration and Turn-In Deadlines

Teams are required to meet all registration and turn-in deadlines. If a team cannot meet a deadline for any reason, they are required to contact Z-Fest to see if alternative arrangements can be made in advance for a given deadline. Teams that fail to meet their deadlines will be disqualified from competition.

Acceptable Content

Any film that does not meet the Z-Fest content guidelines will be disqualified from competition, and if the offending content is not removed,  rejected from screening and removed from the festival. It is the up to the sole discretion of Z-Fest to accept or reject films based on their adherence to the guidelines.  Click here for our guidelines and rules.

Festival and Sponsor Credits

All films must indicate in their credit reel that they were produced for Z-Fest Film Festival. In addition, credits must include acknowledgement of all Z-Fest sponsors via logo placement. It is the responsibility of the film teams to include these credits in their films. Z-Fest encourages filmmakers to include the sponsor logos creatively, but the credits must be reasonably visible and legible.

Turn-In Format and Length

It is the responsibility of the teams to ensure that their film is within the allowed length and is submitted in the proper format. Specifications on acceptable formats for film turn-in are clearly posted on this website. Films that are turned in with the wrong dimensions, codec, frame rate, etc are subject to disqualification from competition.

Use of Third-Party Content

(See below for special rules for fan films.) Teams are allowed to use a limited amount of third-party content in their films, provided they have rights to use it. Up to 15 percent of video content and up to 100% of music can be licensed for a Z-Fest Film. Films that use over 15 percent licensed video content are subject to disqualification from competition.

Fan Films

For years, studios have generally tolerated and even encouraged short fan films as long as they don’t attempt to capitalize financially on copyrighted material.

In Z-Fest, a fan film is considered to be any film that is inspired by another entities creative work. This includes feature films, video games, songs, television programs, comic books, etc. Any film which features copy written elements including, but not limited to, characters, sound effects, weapons, set design, screen grabs or even video clips from another’s work is considered a fan film.  Fan films are eligible for awards, but they are not eligible for prizes of any kind, cash or otherwise.

Satirical Films- and Fair Use

In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. Four factors are considered in analyzing whether a use was a “fair use.”

1. The purpose and character of the use of the original copyrighted work – commercial or non-commercial; whether a Section 107 favored purpose – criticism, comment, scholarship, research, news reporting or teaching; the degree of transformation from the purpose of the original to the purpose of the new work;

2. The nature of the copyrighted work – certain types of work are more deserving of protection than others;

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used of the copyrighted work – in relation to the whole of the copied work; and

4. The effect on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work.

We reserve the right to determine wether your film falls under Parody Law or Fan Film.  Satirical / Parody films are eligible for cash and prizes in addition to awards.

Copyrighted Material and Releases

Any copyrighted content in a film must be licensed from the copyright holder and the proper documentation must be provided. With the exception of Fan film and Parody films see above. Teams that used copyrighted content in their films without permission will be disqualified from competition and unless the copy written material is removed,rejected from screening and removed from the festival.

Film teams are required to get explicit permission to use any individual’s likeness in their film. Any film that violates any intellectual property or privacy laws of any kind, or breaks the law in any way, is subject to disqualification from competition and rejection from screening and removal from the festival.

Conflict of Interest and Ineligibility

Members of the following groups are not allowed to participate in competition, but are allowed to submit films for screening: Z-Fest employees, Z Systems employees, and festival co-hosts.

Sponsors- We will determine in a case by case basis if a conflict exists. For example, IPR is a sponsor and their student body is encouraged to enter the festival.

Giving cash donations, prizes, or volunteering to work with festival staff, does not automatically disqualify you from cash, prizes and awards. We encourage participants to volunteer and donate if they are able. Our judges are not made aware of donations or volunteer hours. And this will not increase your chances of winning. We reserve the right to determine which films have a conflict of interest with respects these aspects.

Responsibility of Film Production Costs

Teams are 100 percent responsible for all expenses associated with the production of their films. Z-Fest bears no ownership or responsibility for any debts or expenses resulting from the production of a Z-Fest film, including any production costs or any fines, fees, penalties, etc.


These rules may be changed for any reason, at any time at the discretion of Z-Fest Film Festival.


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