Awarded as one of ๐Œ๐จ๐ฏ๐ข๐ž๐Œ๐š๐ค๐ž๐ซ ๐Œ๐š๐ ๐š๐ณ๐ข๐ง๐ž's ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ ๐—š๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—™๐—ถ๐—น๐—บ ๐—™๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—™๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐˜-๐—ง๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€.

We are Waco's indie film fest, known as one of the most fun events on the circuit - famous for our game night, whiskey tour, and a mechanical bull! Plus, with awesome films (made by you) and innovative industry panels, it's easy to see why we're a favorite for fresh filmmakers AND experienced creatives.

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The ๐——๐—˜๐—˜๐—ฃ ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—›๐—˜๐—”๐—ฅ๐—ง ๐—™๐—œ๐—Ÿ๐—  ๐—™๐—˜๐—ฆ๐—ง๐—œ๐—ฉ๐—”๐—Ÿ is back!
July 20-23, 2023

Make us laugh! Make us cry! Make us scream!
If you have a great story, we want it at our festival. We accept short films (under 40 minutes), music videos, feature films, and short scripts (under 30 pages).

๐—™๐—ถ๐—น๐—บ ๐—Ÿ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€ ๐—ง๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ - Check out Central Texas' varied and unique looks, and see in person the sites that have made it to the big screen. Afterward, fill up on some amazing Texas BBQ (our treat!).
Free for all accepted filmmakers who attend!

๐—œ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐˜†-๐—ฆ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜€ - For new and seasoned filmmakers of all stripes, these panels are designed to help improve your craft and business savvy.
Free for all accepted filmmakers who attend!

๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐—ฆ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜„๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐˜€ - The awarded "Best Script" is eligible for our new production grant. Details in the Awards & Prizes section.
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We showcase the best in independent film from Texas, the US, and the world in a great theatrical venue with genuine Texas hospitality.

We proudly screen at the ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ผ ๐—›๐—ถ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ, a former vaudeville theater thatโ€™s over a century old, but renovated with all modern touches. The Hippodrome is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and has seen Elvis Presley and John Wayne enter its doors. Always a Waco tradition, the Hippodrome has been reborn as a central Texas destination - complete with recent renovations in seating and projection. Plus, additional locations around Downtown Waco to accommodate our script readings, filmmaker lounge, and panels.

BONUS! If youโ€™re a fan of the ๐—›๐—š๐—ง๐—ฉ show ๐—™๐—ถ๐˜…๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—จ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ, Chip and Joanna Gainesโ€™ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ป๐—ผ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜ is located just steps away from the Hippodrome. Plus, Waco is the home of the ๐——๐—ฟ. ๐—ฃ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐— ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜‚๐—บ and ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐——๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด.

We are easily within driving distance of Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. Itโ€™s easy to see why this area is called the Heart of Texas.

Come on down, yโ€™all.
The stars at night are big and bright, h
๐˜ฟ๐™š๐™š๐™ฅ ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ƒ๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™๐™š๐™ญ๐™–๐™จ!

๐™Ž๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™‚๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ง๐™š ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™œ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ
Best Comedy Short
Best Documentary Short
Best Drama Short
Best Family Short
Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Short
Best Horror Short
Best Music Video

๐™Ž๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™–๐™ก ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™œ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ
Best Texas Short
Best US Short
Best Foreign Short
Best Student Short
Audience Award - Short
Best Short Film - Winning film receives $500 prize in addition to the award.

๐™Ž๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐˜พ๐™ง๐™–๐™›๐™ฉ ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™œ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ
Best Director - Short
Best Performance, Drama - Short
Best Performance, Comedy - Short
Best Cinematography - Short
Best Editing - Short
Best Screenplay - Short

๐™๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ง๐™š ๐™๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ซ๐™–๐™ก ๐˜พ๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™œ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™จ
Best Director - Feature
Best Performance - Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Audience Award - Feature
Best Feature Film - Winning film receives $500 prize in addition to the award.

๐™Ž๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™˜๐™ง๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฌ๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐˜พ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ
Best Script
Honorable Mention Script

"Best Script" award winner is eligible for a $2,500 production grant + hotel + camera/lighting package to film their winning script in Waco - a production package worth $5,000! Details in the Rules & Terms section.

๐——๐—ข ๐—ฌ๐—ข๐—จ๐—ฅ๐—ฆ๐—˜๐—Ÿ๐—™ ๐—” ๐—™๐—”๐—ฉ๐—ข๐—ฅ ๐—”๐—ก๐—— ๐—ฅ๐—˜๐—”๐—— ๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—Ÿ ๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—ฅ๐—จ๐—Ÿ๐—˜๐—ฆ.

You agree to the following terms and conditions of the Deep in the Heart Film Festival (DitHFF).
โ€ข In order for submissions to be considered for competition, a Waco area Premiere is required.
โ€ข You do not talk about Fight Club.
โ€ข All films must be the original work of the filmmakers and all filmmakers must have the necessary rights. The festival is not liable for any rights issues.
โ€ข Films must to be recently produced. Please, no projects created before July 2018
โ€ข In accordance with the Deep in the Heart Film Festival policy, the submission fee is non-refundable.
โ€ข By submitting a film to DitHFF, you grant the Deep in the Heart Film Festival permission to screen your film in a theatrical venue, if said film is officially accepted into this year's lineup.
โ€ข Only completed entries (including entry form, payment, and final exhibition film copy) will be considered. The Deep in the Heart Film Festival does not consider works in progress.
โ€ข You may be required to freak out with us if Daredevil gets his own Marvel film.
โ€ข Films that have screened on television or are available publicly on the internet or streaming services are not eligible for competition. (Password protected and private links are acceptable).
โ€ข Short scripts of all genres are welcome to submit. Scripts must be unproduced as of the date of the film festival. (July 20, 2023)
โ€ข We are an environmentally friendly festival. We accept digital submissions ONLY. Unless requested, do not send us DVDs, Blu-rays, press kits, dirty laundry, or unruly children.
โ€ข The selected works will be exhibited in a theatrical venue, via a digital file, or on Blu-ray & DCP.
โ€ข Keep readingโ€ฆ thereโ€™s a promo code in here somewhere...
โ€ข All entries must either be in English or subtitled in English. Foreign language films without English subtitles will not be screened.
โ€ข If your film has been selected, you will have 14 DAYS TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACCEPTANCE. If we do not hear from you within 14 days of notification, your filmโ€™s status as an official selection may be revoked.
โ€ข Your work will not be screened unless you agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the Deep in the Heart Film Festival.

You grant the Deep in the Heart Film Festival the following:
โ€ข Permission to exhibit your film in a theatrical venue. Films must be available for screening during the festival.
โ€ข Permission for photos, posters, highlights, or excerpts of your film (e.g. a trailer) to be placed on the Deep in the Heart Film Festival website and/or social media and used for other marketing and promotional purposes. You also must agree to allow DitHFF to promote the following year's festival with the material listed above. DitHFF will never solicit or screen elements of your film outside the promotion of the DitHFF.

Screenplay Grant Details

The first place winner of the Deep in the Heart short screenplay contest is eligible to win the Made Deep in the Heart Screenplay Grant. If the winner opts out of the grant, the honorable mention winner becomes eligible for the Made Deep in the Heart Screenplay Grant. Staff members from Deep in the Heart, and personnel affiliated with Vision Vehicle Studios and Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau are not eligible to win.

The Screenplay Grant provides:
โ€ข Up to 4 nights of complimentary hotel stay provided by the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau. These nights may be used for pre-production scouting or during the production.
โ€ข Up to $2,500 in rebates provided by the Deep in the Heart Film Festival. These purchases must go toward McLennan County people, places, and things. You can pay cast, crew, catering, costumes, all sorts of filmmaking goodies. But the purchases must be made in McLennan County, the filmmaker must provide receipts.
โ€ข Camera and Lighting Package. Vision Vehicle Studios, veterans of stage and screen, will work with you to provide a suitable camera and lighting package for your shoot.
โ€ข 5 hours of filmmaking consulting. Vision Vehicle Studios, may provide advice on equipment, potential revisions, directing, and local production.

โ€ข The winning screenplay must have originally been entered into the Short Screenwriting Contest for this yearโ€™s film festival.
โ€ข Screenplays must be no longer than 30 pages.
โ€ข 50% of your film must be shot in McLennan County.
โ€ข Your film must complete production within 18 months of winning the screenplay award.
โ€ข $2,500 will be paid as rebates. The Made Deep in the Heart Screenplay Grant will refund you up to $2,500 on people, places and things related to your shoot. (Eligible items include, but are not limited to cast, crew, catering, etc.). Items purchased in Waco, but shipped from elsewhere are not eligible. (For example, a shirt purchased online but shipped to Waco would not be eligible). Receipts must be provided.
โ€ข Made Deep in the Heart logo must be added to the credits of the film.
โ€ข Vision Vehicle Studios must be recognized as Associate Producers of the film
โ€ข Filmmaker will be required to provide a summary (150-200 words) of how the funds were used, their experience of filming in Waco and the impact of the Made Deep in the Heart Screenplay Grant on this production.

The Festival

โ€ข We accept short film submissions of any genre/topic. (Run time is 39 minutes or less.)
โ€ข We accept feature film submissions of any genre/topic. (Run time is 40 minutes or more.)
โ€ข We accept student-made short film submissions of any genre/topic, created by college or high school students. (Run time is 29 minutes or less. School ID is required that matches the date your film was created.)
โ€ข Submissions will be considered in all appropriate award categories.
โ€ข We accept music video submissions.
โ€ข We accept unproduced short scripts
โ€ข Can we talk about Kurt Russell for a second? Nine times out of 10, if you start a Kurt Russell movie youโ€™re going to enjoy it. Truly underrated.
โ€ข Notification of selections will be made by June 5, 2023.
โ€ข The Deep in the Heart Film Festival reserves the right to change our programming without notice. The official selections and screening schedule are at the sole discretion of the festival.
โ€ข Sorry, but we cannot provide free transportation or lodging for the event. Discounts may become available as the festival approaches.
โ€ข Entrants are responsible for all costs incurred to attend this festival.
โ€ข You may submit as many entries as you like. Each entry requires its own entry fee. Entry fees will not be refunded.
โ€ข Official selections will receive TWO free passes to the film festival for the duration of the film festival.
โ€ข Official selection filmmakers are highly encouraged, but not required, to attend the festival. Seriously, check out our past festivals and you'll see that it's worth it!
โ€ข Our success depends on the quality of submissions, so we cannot offer full waivers. But since you were smart enough to read these rules, use the promo code IAMAREADER and you'll get a discount.
โ€ข Exceptions to these rules will not be made unless we make an exception.
โ€ข Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

For further questions and inquiries, please email

Overall Rating
  • Brian Steele

    My team and I weren't able to attend the 2022 festival, and it's my biggest regret. I was pining from afar watching all the FB live interviews and photos, and wishing I was there in Waco. Everyone running the festival seems like a wonderful human, great communication and enthusiasm for the event. I'll absolutely attend next time if I get invited with another film. Thanks Deep in the Heart for showcasing our short!

    August 2022
  • Unfortunately this year we weren't able to attend the festival but that did not hinder our experience with Deep in the Heart Film Festival. The entire team was always communicating clearly with us about our screening times, opportunities to promote the film and helping us promote online even from afar. Every indication is that Deep in the Heart cares about films and filmmakers, they want you to see the best and they certainly had an amazing lineup this year. If we were invited again we would certainly attend. You should absolutely apply.

    August 2022
  • Luke Larsen

    I really enjoyed this festival. Small town feel. Big on film enthusiasm!

    August 2022
  • Just a phenomenal festival through and through. They *truly* put the filmmaker first and offer so much to and for artists. Made me view Waco in a completely different light and appreciate the community. I can't wait to submit our next project and hope to experience DitHFF again soon!!!

    August 2022
  • Chris Dickerson

    Deep in the Heart is an absolute blast of a festival. By far the most wonderful and accommodating group of people who curate an amazing festival that truly showcases their love of film and the filmmakers who create them. I will be back and often as they'll have me.

    August 2022