The Short Film Lab


Presented by the Sun Valley Film Festival and Tito’s Handmade Vodka

With the goal of supporting emerging filmmakers in their quest to become amazing storytellers, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and the Sun Valley Film Festival introduce The Short Film Lab. The Short Film Lab offers a cash prize that will help take a great idea from script to screen, and in a business that’s all about ‘who you know’ we want to introduce these up-and-comers to everyone. With a special eye on fostering connections and mentor-ship opportunities, the winning filmmaker will be invited to SVFF this March to shake hands with some of the best in the biz.


More than just its $10,000 cash prize, the Sun Valley Film Festival and filmmaker Michael Tully will support the winning filmmaker as Producer. Offering guidance, connections to resources, and facilitating networking opportunities, The Short Film Lab aims to be a concierge of opportunity.

Mentor, Michael Tully:

After his directorial debut, Cocaine Angel, world premiered at the 2006 International Film Festival Rotterdam, Michael Tully was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His follow-up, Silver Jew, world premiered at the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival. In 2011, he wrote, directed, and acted in Septien, which world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Sundance Selects. Ping Pong Summerworld premiered at Sundance ‘14; it was picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures and is now available on home video through Millennium Entertainment. He is the founding editor of Hammer To Nail, a website devoted to championing ambitious cinema.


Judge, Jim Burke:

Jim Burke is the President of Production for Focus Features. Jim has considerable experience developing and producing films, and is a passionate advocate for filmmaking talent. Burke has produced Alexander Payne’s The Descendants as well as The Savages, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cedar Rapids, starring Ed Helms, and helped co-found the production company Ad Hominem.


  • $10,000 cash prize for producing short
  • One on one mentorship with filmmaker Michael Tully
  • Script feedback from Jim Burke, President of Production at Focus Features
  • Liaised networking, and the rare opportunity for one on one consultations with Industry greats
  • A celebrated and promoted World Premiere at SVFF in an effort to launch the film and careers
  • Lodging and all-access pass to the 2017 Sun Valley Film Festival


  • Strength of Story
  • Originality/Creativity/Voice
  • Clarity
  • Feasibility given financial and world premiere-date parameters


  • PDF of short screenplay, 10 pages or less [industry standard format]
  • Vision Statement or Cover Letter
  • Top Sheet Budget summary/approximation [to ascertain feasibility of film given budget constraints]






 February 15th , 2017

* Filmakers are encouraged to submit as early as possible.
Questions? Contact us at

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Screenplay must be 10 pages or less, no exceptions. The Sun Valley Film Festival and Tito’s Handmade Vodka reserve the right to determine eligibility of any project submitted. Competition open to US residents only. Participants must be at least 18 years of age. The Sun Valley Film Festival and Tito’s Handmade Vodka must receive Producer credits in finalized film and logos in end credit scroll. Winner must be able/willing to produce film in time for a March 2018 World Premiere at SVFF. All submitted material must be original, and all rights must be wholly owned by the writer(s). Material written by writing teams must be submitted with the consent of all writers. It is recommended that original material be registered with the WGA or US Copyright Office before submitting to any competition, however we do not require registration. Adaptations are ineligible unless the underlying rights are owned by the writer or the work is in the public domain.