Digital storytelling is all around us; videos, podcasts, and commercials use words, sounds, and images to share meaningful stories with a wide range of people. Digital storytelling helps connect people no matter where they are located. Cameras, smartphones, tablets, computers, social networks, and other technology have made it easier for anyone to share stories that we can all learn a great deal from. Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing history, inspiring action, change and influencing thought leaders, funders, and decision-makers.

For our military and their families, it can serve as an opportunity to capture their story, and a way for their non-military peers, friends, and family to better understand their day-to-day life. Long deployments, training exercises, time away from home, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars, and now the impacts of COVID, are often experiences the average American can’t relate to or don’t truly understand. Let’s bring YOUR stories to life through an incredibly fun and rewarding storytelling exercise.

The Challenge

Whether you are looking for healing, looking to make a difference or just looking to have some fun, the U.S. Naval Institute and the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy challenge you to tell YOUR story. We have partnered with 3 Penny Films to give you the opportunity share your film.

We challenge filmmakers to submit a short documentary film on almost any topic, however, the topic must have a tie to the U.S. military. The films can be any genre, scripted or non-scripted (documentary), drama or comedy, mystery or romance. The opportunity is yours! Your film must be no longer than 5 minutes.

A few select entries will be chosen for review and feedback from the filmmakers at 3 Penny Films. When making your film, don’t forget the important elements of storytelling - developing your idea, writing your outline, framing your message, recording, and editing just to name a few.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top entries. Awards will range from $500 to $1000.

All submittals will be featured during a virtual film festival to be held in March 2021.

- Open to all contributors – midshipmen, cadets, active-duty officers and enlisted, reservists, veterans, and civilians.
- Contributors must be amateur filmmakers. Sorry, Spielberg!!!
- Films must have a tie to the U.S. Military. A loose tie is ok.
- A short documentary film. Any genre.
- Films must be no more than 5 minutes.
- Please only one entry per person.
- Submit films online.
- We will only accept a limited number of entries. What are you waiting for!!!

Selection Process

The filmmakers at 3 Penny Films will view all submissions. Three films will be selected to work directly with the filmmakers in a one-on-one workshopping session to be held virtually in late February or early March. The session will be an after-action critique of the film for improvements that could be made in the areas of storytelling, cinematography, editing principles, and additional tools needed to create an impactful film.

Overall Rating
  • Greg Barnett

    As a non-professional musician/filmmaker, this was a wonderful opportunity to have my stuff heard/watched. Thank you.

    May 2021
  • It was an honor to be a part of this festival!! Great communication, very warm and welcoming. I hope they continue this festival and expand it, I had some other Veterans, Navy, (I'm USAF) express interest in submitting next time around. Keep it up folks!

    May 2021