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A trusted source for coverage of American independent cinema since 2008, Hammer to Nail is excited to announce a new, monthly Short Film Contest open to all filmmakers!

In our four years (and counting!) of operation at Hammer To Nail, we have committed ourselves to spreading love for all the great and often underseen films made on a dime and fueled by a love for cinema. Now we are ready to further this mission by seeking out the best short work—all genres and styles are welcome—made by filmmakers from all over the world and helping to get that work seen by a much wider audience.

Monthly winners will receive a full review by one of our critics on, the opportunity to share their film with our readers, and submission waivers to several major U.S. film festivals, worth up to $200. Your submission to these festivals will come stamped with a Hammer to Nail seal of approval (*please note, you will still be responsible for submitting your film through the proper channels according to the terms of each festival*). We will also continue to support and promote your film throughout its life on the festival circuit. Perhaps most importantly, all finalists will have their film judged by a rotating panel of industry insiders like producer Ted Hope, filmmakers David Gordon Green, Lena Dunham, Craig Zobel, Lodge Kerrigan, as well as film critics from our experienced group of contributing writers.

If you have a completed short film (19-minutes-and-59-seconds or less!) that you want the world to see, submit it by February 1 to be considered for our first round of competition. The fee for entry is $30. Participating film festivals include: Hamptons International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Sarasota Film FestivalSidewalk Moving Picture Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Northside Film Festival, and Philadelphia Film Festival! Visit each festival’s website for submission deadlines and other details.

February Judges:

  • David Gordon Green is an award-winning director, writer and producer of film and television.  His debut feature George Washington won him a New York Film Critics Circle Award in 2000 for Best First Film and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. His follow-up All the Real Girls won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2003. Since then he has directed films such as Pineapple Express (2008), Your Highness (2011), and The Sitter (2011), as well six episodes of the popular and acclaimed HBO comedy Eastbound & Down.
  • Aaron Hillis is the curator of the reRun Gastropub Theatre, editor of GreenCine Daily, and a regular contributor to The Village VoiceLA WeeklyVariety and Spin. He is also the vice-president of Benten Films, the first distribution label curated and run by critics, designed for cinephiles to uncover lost masterpieces and future classics. Aaron’s co-directorial feature debut, Fish Kill Flea, premiered at SXSW in 2007.
  • Michael Tully is the editor and chief film critic of Hammer to Nail, as well as a contributor to Filmmaker Magazine and Indiewire. A filmmaker as well, his most recent feature Septien world premiered at Sundance in 2011 and was distributed by Sundance Selects. His other films include Cocaine Angel (2006) and Silver Jew (2007).

Well, what are you waiting for? SUBMIT YOUR FILM NOW!

Have a question about the contest? Check out the press release or just email us!

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Michael Tully is an award-winning writer/director whose films have garnered widespread critical acclaim, his projects having premiered at some of the most renowned film festivals across the globe. He is also the former (and founding) editor of this site. In 2006, Michael's first feature, COCAINE ANGEL, chronicling a tragic week in the life of a young drug addict, world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film immediately solidified the director as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” a reputation that was reinforced a year later when his follow-up feature, SILVER JEW, a documentary capturing the late David Berman's rare musical performances in Tel Aviv, world-premiered at SXSW and landed distribution with cult indie-music label Drag City. In 2011, Michael wrote, directed, and starred in his third feature, SEPTIEN, which debuted at the 27th annual Sundance Film Festival before being acquired by IFC Films' Sundance Selects banner. A few years later, in 2014, Michael returned to Sundance with the world premiere of his fourth feature, PING PONG SUMMER, an ‘80s set coming-of-age tale that was quickly picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures. In 2018, Michael wrote and directed the dread-inducing genre film DON'T LEAVE HOME, which has been described as "Get Out with Catholic guilt in the Irish countryside" (IndieWire). The film premiered at SXSW and was subsequently acquired by Cranked Up Films and Shudder.

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