Coverage Ink’s FREE DIY Tournament – Make Your Own Movie! Now through August 17


No, Really. It Will Be Easy. Trust Us.
We Will Help You.
By August 17th, you will have a short.
Entry is FREE. And you may win $250 cash.



You will write and develop an original short film with a beginning, middle and end, five minutes or less.

All you need is your PHONE or any CAMERA. Any easy, available location(s) will do.

You do not need to use pro lighting, actors, sound.

You do not need music or titles or even proper equipment.

You do need to write a kick-ass script that shows what you can do as a writer.

You will NOT be judged on acting, lighting, production value, editing, sound, etc.

All we care about is that you write something cool and then shoot it on your phone.

Let’s do this thing!



The grand prize winner will receive $250.

Every participant will receive feedback along the way.

Plus everyone who finishes will have a short film at the end of the process, which can be submitted to festivals (possibly after some clean-up work,) or could become the proof-of-concept for a pilot or feature script.

Most importantly, everyone who participates will likely come to realize that ALL of us have the ability to seize the reins and make movies. Take your power back!



Email us your outline for evaluation. This can be as short as a few paragraphs or up to a page or two.

Put DIY WEEK ONE in the subject line. We will get back to you with helpful notes.

Email us your first draft of your short film script for evaluation. Put DIY WEEK TWO in the subject line. We will get back to you with helpful notes.

Note that once we have weighed in on at least once draft of your script, you can shoot your movie any time.

LAST CHANCE TO SUBMIT YOUR SHORT FILM SCRIPT. You can submit a first or second draft (catch-up time for the late arrivals!)  Email us at [email protected] and put DIY WEEK THREE in the subject line. We will get back to you with helpful notes.

If you missed week one or week two, this is your final chance to enter DIY. After this deadline, participants are locked. You must have submitted your script to Coverage Ink by August 3rd to qualify.


This gives you two weeks to complete your movie and get it in to us.

Email your movie to [email protected] via a free file transfer service like WeTransfer, FileMail or Google Drive. Please DO NOT USE DROPBOX. No Dropbox submissions will be accepted.

Please put DIY SHORT FILM ENTRY in the subject line and remember to include your name and phone number.

Or you may host your film on a service such as Vimeo or YouTube and just send us the link. (Private links are fine.)

Your movie may be “unfinished” — in other words, if you plan on going back later and doing some polishing, that’s fine. But your movie must tell a story and it must have a beginning, middle and an end.


      • Your short film can be ANY GENRE and take place in any era.
      • Your movie must tell a story and have a beginning, middle and an end.
      • Your characters need not be human.
      • Your script must be NO MORE than 5 pages/5 minutes run time.
      • No more than four characters.
      • Professional actors are not required. In fact, you do NOT need to use human actors at all – your characters can be houseplants, globs of Cheez-Whiz, sock puppets… whatever. 
      • Staged readings (scripts in hand) are OK, but do try to be “off-book” if possible.
      • Your scenes do not need to be well-lit.
      • Professional sound is not needed, but please make sure we can hear the dialogue.
      • Music, makeup/hair, costumes and sound effects are optional.
      • Special effects are not necessary. If you have After Effects and want to throw them in, that’s fine.
      • You may choose to include credits if you so choose.
      • You may use any phone, camera, or editing software.
      • You must submit your short film to CI by the August 17th deadline to qualify.
      • Your short must be in English or subtitled in English (if there is dialogue.)
      • Tournament open to anyone 18 years and older worldwide as permitted by law.
      • Submit your movie by Monday, August 17th to [email protected] via WeTransfer, FileMail or Google Drive. Please DO NOT USE DROPBOX. No Dropbox submissions will be accepted.
      • Last chance to submit your script is Monday, August 3rd. After that, participants for DIY are locked.
      • Unless you specify otherwise, Coverage, Ink reserves the right to show the winning film on its website and social media. This film will not be monetized.
      • At no time do any rights change hands. Any script and film you create remains 100% yours. Coverage, Ink LLC assumes no rights to your material in any way, excepting the right to show the final film on its website and link to it on our social media. We encourage you to copyright your film with the Library of Congress.
      • Only short films created specifically for this DIY tournament and submitted to Coverage Ink by midnight Pacific time August 17, 2020, are eligible to win the grand prize. Late submissions will be disqualified.
      • Submitting a short film screenplay or film is in no way a guarantee of winning a cash prize, nor is it to be considered a paid writing assignment. DIY is a free tournament with a single cash prize for the winning entry. Entries submitted to Coverage Ink are not entitled to compensation.
      • Grand Prize Winner will be announced Wednesday, August 19th.



  • Remember the first two rules of screenwriting: There must be CONFLICT IN EVERY SCENE, and SHOW, DON’T TELL. Don’t rely solely on dialogue. Use visuals, body languages and images to tell your story.
  • Shoot HORIZONTALLY, not vertically. Never shoot vertically again.
  • Best to keep it to one or two locations at most. A single room or two in a house, the alley behind your apartment, the park down the street, etc.
  • If using the mic on your phone or camera, remember to keep the phone close to the actors. The further away you are, the worse the sound will be.
  • Best to keep noisy pets and crying babies away while shooting.
  • LIGHT is good. Natural light is much brighter than indoor light, so if shooting indoors open the blinds and try to get as much light going as you can. Consider picking up a white piece of styro board at the dollar store to use as a bounce card to balance the light. Or pick up an inexpensive LED movie light and a stand on eBay.
  • Use a tripod. If you’re doing a moving camera shot, consider investing in a gimbal or stabilizer for your phone or camera. They make a big difference. Here’s a really nice one:
  • If you’ve never shot anything before and never taken a filmmaking class, you can find lots of helpful videos with a simple DuckDuckGo search. Here are three links to get you started:



You will need to think about things like actors, lighting, and sound.

      • GET HELP. It’s a good idea to find a friend(s) who can share the workload. That friend can help coordinate and do continuity (ensuring things look the same from shot to shot,) or help you edit, etc.
      • You will need to use a real mic. In-camera/in-phone audio is generally pretty lame. You can pick up a decent, inexpensive mic from Rode here:, or you can score a great-sounding Zoom H1n stand-alone stereo digital recorder for around $50 used on ebay.
      • Lighting: Watch this video!
      • Music: Tons of free music at
      • Sound effects: A gazillion free sounds at
      • Editing: You should be able to edit on your phone or your computer using the built-in software. If you want to get a little fancier, you can spend a few bucks for a prosumer editing suite like Pinnacle Studio 22. Or just ask a friend who knows Adobe Premiere for help.

Remember, Coverage Ink is not judging you on these areas. However, festivals will, so if you want to use your short for festivals, be aware they expect a level of professionalism. We encourage you to go for it — anyone can do this.


Email us [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.