The Mystery Box Film Challenge is a film challenge for all who love to make films. Participants get items/prompts that they have to use in their film. Like the television show Chopped on Food Network but for filmmakers.

Filmmakers have roughly 2 months to complete a film using the items/prompts which will be announced online and listed here. Those who submit finished films will have them premiere at the Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival followed by a short Q&A and small awards presentation. So are you up for the challenge?


2023 Mystery Box Film Challenge Items and Prompts:

Character Name: Phoenix

Prompt 1: Have a scene with no dialogue.

Prompt 2: Feature an actor/actress over the age of 50 in your film. Name them in your credits and they must have at least 1 minute of screen time.

Dialogue Line:  “In a fake-news era, truth becomes an imperative.”

Filmmaker’s Choice: Use A Toy Train or Feature A Real Train In Your Film

Prop: Rubber Duck

Wardrobe 1: Purple Bandanna

Wardrobe 2: Denim Jacket

Local Component: Feature a local landmark that is unique to your area. Say what it is in the credits so we know what it is.

Best of Show Award

The Best of Show Winner and Finalists are provided with a laurel which may be used for their own marketing and promotional materials.

Best of Show Winner will be given an award certificate, winner laurel, and cash prize.

1.) Submission Requirements

ITEMS/PROMPTS: Filmmakers must use all items/prompts in their film which are listed above.

PG-13 RATING: Films should align with the PG-13 rating. R or NC-17 films will not be accepted. This is for a general audience.

1 - 10 MINUTES IN LENGTH: Total time includes your credits and titles in the film. Cannot go beyond 10 minutes. These will be short films.

2.) Technical Specifications

Films should be 1920 x 1080 (aspect ratio 16:9) full HD, 24fps. The film may be in other aspect ratios & resolutions, as long as it fits within the 16:9 1080 24P display. H.264 is the preferred codec with a MP4 or MOV wrapper/file type.

3.) Eligibility Requirements

All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Dialogue lists are not accepted.

Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry to the Mystery Box Film Challenge and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.

4.) Terms and Additional Information

All finished films submitted for the challenge by the deadline will be screened at the Northeast Pennsylvania Film Festival as long as they meet all submission requirements.

The challenge organizers will screen the films first to determine if they meet the requirements for the challenge. Then our selected judges will screen the selected films that meet all the requirements to determine the Best of Show Winner for the Mystery Box Film Challenge.

Refund of submission fee will not be given if your film does not meet our requirements above and is not accepted as part of the Mystery Box Film Challenge. Any film submitted that is not made for the challenge and does not use the items and requirements will automatically be disqualified.

Overall Rating
  • Fun Film Festival! - Vinnie Langdon III, American Actor & Film Director

    September 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Vinnie! So glad to see your films every year!