The Understory Film Festival is for local, independent, student, emerging and professional filmmakers in the North and Far North Queensland, Australia region.
Residents from Townsville to Cairns, across Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Torres Strait Islands are eligible to enter.
Entry is free.
Understory High is a subsidiary film festival that accompanies the Understory Film Festival, exclusive to high school students in the North and Far North Queensland, Australia, region. If you are a high school student wishing to participate, your film must be submitted via a Teacher Liaison or Head of Department at your school.
All entrants are invited to submit a short film under 8 minutes including credits. There is no minimum duration.
Understory High culminates in a Screening and Awards Presentation Event at the Tanks Arts Centre on Friday 6 October, 2023.
Understory Film Festival culminates in an open-air Screening and Awards Presentation Event in the lush Munro Martin Parklands on Saturday 18 November, 2023.
Please note: The Understory Film Festival and Understory High is open to entries from North and Far North Queensland, Australia only.
A panel of screen industry professionals will be engaged to judge the films.
Whilst Understory Film Festival accepts films of all genres, this does not mean each genre will attract an award.
Award winners from Understory High will be automatically entered into the Understory Film Festival.
$2,500 cash prizes are on offer for both the Best Film and the People's Choice Awards at the Understory Film Festival open-air Screening and Awards Presentation Event in the lush Munro Martin Parklands on Saturday 18 November, 2023.
1. SUBMITTING A FILM
a. Submissions are welcome from any filmmaker (Director, Producer, Writer or other
key creative) from North and Far North Queensland. If you have recently moved
from the region you may still qualify.
b. The festival will accept up to three entries per filmmaker only. If you have multiple
films, please select your final three films for submission carefully.
c. You can only submit your film into one of the three categories available: Understory
High - Open Film, Understory High - Animation, Understory Film Festival.
d. The duration of your film must be 8 minutes or less, including credits. There is no
minimum duration, the film can be as short as you like.
e. The festival will only accept local films created in the past two years.
f. Entry is free.
g. There is no payment offered to the applicant for submitting your film. There can be
no claim for compensation or payment in any form.
h. All submissions are final and will be used for both judging and screening. You
cannot apply and then submit a final for screening.
i. Please provide 3 x landscape stills at 300 dpi, 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels high for
publicity use with your application.
j. Please give permission to download your film and the landscape stills when you
submit your application.
2. APPLICATION CLOSING DATES
a. Applications to Understory High close at 4pm Wednesday 6 September, 2023.
If you are applying to Understory High your film must be submitted via a Teacher
Liaison or Head of Department, at your school by Wednesday 6 September, 2023.
b. Applications to Understory Film Festival close at 4pm Monday 9 October, 2023.
Please note: Late applications will not be accepted.
3. FILM GENRE
a. Films of all genres will be accepted, and we welcome first time filmmakers. You are
encouraged to explore your own stories, culture and issues which affect you. Your
film can be any style, including animation, documentary, drama, music video,
b. Whilst Understory accepts films of all genres, this does not mean each genre will
attract an award.
4. FILM RATING
a. The rating must pass G, PG, or M guidelines. The festival will arrange exemption of
classification for the screening. See w.w.w.classification.gov.au for rating guidelines
or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
5. FILM SOUNDTRACK
a. Music in the film must abide by all copyright laws. You must guarantee that all the
rights have been granted for the use of the music within our film. Refer to
Australian Performing Rights Association: www.apra.com.au
a. The Producer grants a non-exclusive license, throughout the world indefinitely, to
Cairns Regional Council to allow to show the film to the public by any means
including, but not limited to, the internet, cable, satellite, and by any media yet to be
devised for the purposes of promoting the Festival only, including future publicity of
the festival. Short listed films will be screened at other Council events throughout
the year, and, will also tour to the regions in Far North Queensland. The rights
described in this agreement are granted to commence immediately upon
submission of content and continue indefinitely. However, after one year, the
Producer may write to Council at any time and request termination of the non-
exclusive license, whereupon council will remove your content from Council’s video
hosting account and all associated distribution within 90 days.
7. PERMISSION / TALENT RELEASES
a. The Producer warrants to Cairns Regional Council that all necessary
permission/talent releases have been obtained and that the film does not infringe
the rights including copyright of any third party.
8. JUDGING PROCESS
a. A panel of screen industry experts will be engaged to judge the films.
b. Whilst the Festival accepts films of all genres, this does not mean each genre will
attract an award.
9. JUDGING CRITERIA
a. All films must meet the judging criteria set out below.
i. Films must contain appropriate content
ii. Films must not breach any copyright laws
iii. Technical quality must be to adequate screening presentation standards
b. If your film is deemed not to meet the judging criteria you will be notified and your
submission will be returned.
a. Not all film entries will be shown at the Understory Film Festival events. Screening
time is limited to approximately 90 minutes.
a. Shortlisted entries to Understory High will be announced Monday 18 September.
Shortlisted entries to the Understory Film Festival will be announced Tuesday 31
October. Please see https://www.facebook.com/understoryFilmFest
b. Shortlisted entries to Understory High will be screened at the Tanks Arts Centre on
Friday 6 October. Shortlisted entries to the Understory Film Festival will be screened
in the Munro Martin Parklands on Saturday 18 November. Awards will be
announced after each screening. The judges’ decision is final and no
correspondence will be entered into.
c. Films that are shortlisted will give Cairns Regional Council non-exclusive rights to
screen the films at their events throughout the following year.
d. Films that are shortlisted will give Cairns Regional Council non-exclusive rights to
package their films as part of the Understory Travelling Film Festival, scheduled to
tour across venues in North and Far North Queensland from December 2023 –
If you have any questions, please phone (07) 4032 6656 or email email@example.com
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
1.1 The filmmaker allows Cairns Regional Council to utilise segments of their film for the creation of teaser trailers for the promotion of the festival.
1.2 Understory will not be responsible for lost, damaged, misdirected, unusable or unreadable content.
1.3 In regards to intellectual property, you are fully responsible for the clearance of any music, sound, images or graphics contained in your entry. If any record company or music publisher contacts us about an entry’s music rights, we will refer that company to you so be sure to obtain all the appropriate clearances beforehand.
1.4 Understory retains the right to accept only the entries that abide to the guidelines set down in this document.
1.5 Filmmakers who are selected for the Understory High and Understory Film Festival Finalist Shortlists, will allow non-exclusive rights for up to six screenings of their films, at Cairns Regional Council Creative Life events throughout the following year.
1.6 Filmmakers who are selected for the Understory High and Understory Film Festival Finalist Shortlists, will give Cairns Regional Council non-exclusive rights to package their films as part of the Understory Travelling Film Festival, scheduled to tour across venues in North and Far North Queensland from December 2023 – February 2024.
1.7 DECLARTION FOR FILM ENTRIES
• By entering the festival, I, the Producer, understand and agree to the Understory
Guidelines and Terms and Conditions of entry as outlined above.
• I also understand that the judges’ decision is final, and no correspondence will be
• I acknowledge that there can be no claim for compensation or payment in any form
in future relation to the above stated use, or any associated therewith.
• Cairns Regional Council may exhibit your film in whole or in part without
restrictions or limitations for any Understory Film Festival screening or promotional
purposes for Cairns Regional Council, and those acting pursuant to its authority,