Memphis. The South’s capital of cultural innovation, influence and activism, known worldwide as the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, has forever been an authentic and iconic place of grassroots beginnings. StoryBoard Shorts continues that tradition with a program that invites filmmakers of all experience levels - teens to retirees - to share their short stories of local activism, arts, culture, history and community.

Not quite ready for Cannes, Sundance, or Indie Memphis? This festival is for you. There are first times for every filmmaker. The first time picking up a camera. The first time focusing on a subject. The first time conducting that interview. Every filmmaker was once an unknown. StoryBoard Shorts provides a platform for those unknown filmmakers to take those first steps.

And whether you’re an unknown filmmaker or arrive here with years of experience, this ‘mini’ festival is your platform to show your short nonfiction works. And in a region - Memphis, the Delta and the Mid-South - economically challenged and yet known worldwide for discovering and cultivating raw, unknown talents, StoryBoard Shorts Doc Fest invites filmmakers from the immediate region as well as around the world whose talents have yet to be discovered to submit their short-short* documentaries - polished, rough, or part of a work-in-progress - for a festival and competition to showcase their storytelling talents for industry insiders and on the big screen for live audiences.

(*10 minutes or less)

Submissions open in July of 2023 with deadlines at the end of December 2023, January and February of 2024, and finalists will be screened at a 1 1/2-day festival held in April, 2024 at Playhouse on the Square in Midtown, Memphis, Tennessee.

SUPPORTING LOCAL FESTIVALS: StoryBoard's Doc Fest also aims to support local regional festivals like the Hot Springs Documentary Festival, the Oxford Film Festival, and of course our very own Indie Memphis. Our goal is to support these festivals by finding raw and unknown talent, provide budding filmmakers with an entry-level platform to submit their polished or rough works, and help them develop the confidence, practice and advice to submit their completed works to these larger festivals, as well as enroll in their supporting programs.

BUILDING CONNECTIONS: Here filmmakers can connect with industry insiders and other local influencers to forge pathways to see their films reach their fullest potential, whether they be completed works or aspire to full feature-length documentaries.

Categories include films created LOCALLY in Memphis and Shelby County; REGIONALLY outside county lines in the Mid-South (Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana); NATIONALLY and INTERNATIONALLY outside the Mid-South. Additional categories for 901TEEN filmmakers in partnership with local libraries, for local COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY filmmakers within Shelby County, and for rough cuts and works-in-progress.**

(** see Rules & Terms)

ABOUT STORYBOARD MEMPHIS: Multimedia publisher StoryBoard Memphis was built on the mission to support local arts and culture, and to encourage local unknown talent to submit their stories, receive professional feedback, and to be published for the first time. StoryBoard Short Doc Fest extends this platform of support to invite new filmmakers to submit their short, nonfiction films.

Up to $5000 in awards and cash prizes will be handed out to the top jury and audience vote-getters. Juries made up of industry professionals and insiders and local professional filmmakers. Awards trophies made by artisans and metalsmiths of the Metal Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Prizes awarded in the following categories: Grand Prize (Jury prize for films in the LOCAL and REGIONAL category); Audience prize for films in ALL categories; Prizes for Editing, Cinematography, Writing, best 901Teen documentary, best College documentary, best National/International documentary

Grand Jury Prize: $1000
Audience Prize: $1000
Downtowner Award: $250
Best Editing: $250
Best Cinematography: $250
Best Writing: $250
Best National/International Doc: $250
Best 901Teen Doc: $250
Best (College/University) Student Doc: $250

Others to be announced

SHORT-SHORT NONFICTION FILMS: must be 10 minutes or less in running time, including opening and ending credits. Short nonfiction films may fall under multiple categories and documentary types. Animated nonfiction films are welcome.

Please refer to StoryBoard's SUBMISSIONS policies and a short resource guide on documentary filmmaking for more information:

Read on below for further details on RULES & TERMS.

FEES are non-refundable

Festival is open to U.S. and International entries

Films not in English must be subtitled with English subtitles

FILM ELIGIBILITY: Being a new festival and unique in its mission, and considering pandemic disruptions for filmmakers' opportunities in 2020 and 2021, we understand that many filmmakers have films on the shelf that have never seen the light of day. Therefore we will accept films that were in production and/or completed as of January 1, 2020 for Doc Fest Memphis 2023 under the terms below.

Films that have been released publicly, theatrically, on broadcast television, or are available on Video-on-Demand or a streaming platform are not eligible for competition.

ROUGH-CUTS and WORKS-IN-PROGRESS: Rough-cuts or short segments of works-in-progress ARE eligible for festival competition. However, these films must be able to stand on their own merits and will be judged on their own merits. For example, a finished segment or 'chapter' of an unfinished or not-fully-funded feature-length documentary could be audience- and competition-ready; as representative of the unfinished feature-length work, these segments may be submitted and will be judged on their own merit.
Sizzle-reels, trailers or previews WILL NOT be accepted as submissions.

ANIMATED SHORT DOCS: Animated short documentaries are welcome following the same guidelines as all other submissions.

SUBMISSION FORMAT: Entries MUST BE submitted for pre-screening with a private, password-protected VIMEO or private YOUTUBE link. Filmmakers are required to keep the festival contacts updated with passwords.

Filmmakers may submit multiple entries. However, entrants must complete a separate entry form and pay the entry fee for each separate submission.

UPDATED CUTS: Doc Fest screeners will screen films as they were originally submitted; we cannot guarantee to screen updated cuts of films. However if filmmakers have updated cuts ready before the final deadline, they should email festival organizers immediately, and every effort will be made to have the updated cut screened for the festival.



FINAL FILMS: Between 12 and 18* films will be selected for competition for StoryBoard Shorts, Doc Fest Memphis. (*12 to 18 films depending on length of total final films as they will fit within a roughly 2-hour festival screening block).

ENVELOPE-TEAR: Final film selections will be announced at a party and envelope-tear in Memphis, Tennessee in early May, 2023. The envelope-tear will also be live-streamed for entrants, stakeholders and audiences.

FINALISTS & FORMATS: Finalists will be required to deliver their film files to the festival organizers in full 4k UHD (or upscaled or "upres'd") 16x9 aspect ratio, in NTSC 1920x1080p or higher using AVC encoding standards.

LIABILITIES & COPYRIGHTS: StoryBoard Doc Fest cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage incurred en route, or due to normal wear and tear. StoryBoard Doc Fest is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses that may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any films.