Welcome filmmakers, cinephiles, and movie enthusiasts to the City Wide Short Film Competition! We’re excited to announce that this year’s competition is open-genre, which means you’re free to unleash your creativity and make any kind of movie your heart desires. Whether you’re into action-packed thrillers, heartwarming romances, mind-bending science fiction, or even absurd absurdist comedies, the choice is yours!

However, we do have one request: please leave the horror to our Carson Creepy Short Film Competition in October. We don’t want to give our judges nightmares…well, not until Halloween at least. So, grab your cameras, gather your cast and crew, and let your imaginations run wild! We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Absurdist: A genre that is characterized by surreal, nonsensical situations and dialogue. One example of a famous absurdist film is “Being John Malkovich,” directed by Spike Jonze and released in 1999. The film tells the story of a struggling puppeteer who discovers a hidden portal that leads directly into the mind of actor John Malkovich. The movie features surreal and nonsensical situations, with themes of identity, power, and the nature of reality. “Being John Malkovich” received critical acclaim and several award nominations, including three Academy Award nominations.

Action: This genre typically involves fast-paced, high-intensity scenes with plenty of physical stunts, special effects, and chase scenes. “Die Hard” is often regarded as one of the most popular action movies because of its iconic portrayal of a single hero fighting against impossible odds, a well-crafted story with a simple and effective plot, memorable characters, thrilling action sequences, and the charismatic performance of Bruce Willis as John McClane.

Action-Comedy: A genre that combines elements of action and comedy, often featuring elaborate action sequences and comedic situations. One of the most famous action comedy movies is “Rush Hour” starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, which follows a Hong Kong police officer and an LAPD detective as they team up to rescue a kidnapped girl while also learning to work together despite their cultural differences and clashing personalities.

Adventure: Adventure films often center around a hero’s journey or exploration of a new, exciting world, often with an emphasis on action and suspense. One of the most famous adventure films of all time is “Raiders of the Lost Ark” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. The movie follows Indiana Jones as he travels the globe searching for the legendary Ark of the Covenant before it falls into the hands of the Nazis during World War II. The film is known for its exciting action sequences, witty dialogue, and memorable characters, and has become a classic in the adventure genre.

Alternate History: A genre that explores fictional scenarios in which historical events unfold differently than in real life. One famous alternate history film is “Inglourious Basterds” directed by Quentin Tarantino, which reimagines the outcome of World War II by portraying a group of Jewish American soldiers who plot to assassinate Nazi leaders.

Animation: Animated films are typically aimed at children but can also appeal to adults, with stories told through cartoon characters and often featuring musical numbers. “Shrek” is a popular animated film. Released in 2001, it follows the story of an ogre named Shrek who is forced to rescue a princess in order to regain control of his swamp. The film is known for its humor, catchy soundtrack, and unique animation style that subverts traditional fairy tale tropes. “Shrek” was a critical and commercial success, spawning three sequels and becoming a cultural phenomenon.

Biographical: A genre that tells the story of a real-life person or group, often featuring their struggles and achievements. One famous biographical film is “The Social Network” (2010) directed by David Fincher. It tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and how he came up with the idea for the social networking site and the subsequent legal battles that ensued. The film was highly praised for its performances, direction, and screenplay, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three.

Buddy Comedy: A genre that features two protagonists with opposing personalities who are forced to work together to achieve a common goal. One famous buddy comedy film is “The Hangover” directed by Todd Phillips and released in 2009. The movie follows a group of friends who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, but wake up the next morning with no memory of the previous night and must retrace their steps to find the groom-to-be. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, and was a huge commercial success, grossing over $467 million worldwide and spawning two sequels. Its combination of raunchy humor and heartwarming moments has made it a beloved classic in the genre.

Comedy: Comedies are intended to be humorous and light-hearted, with a focus on witty dialogue, situational humor, and sometimes absurd situations. One of the most famous classic comedies is “Some Like It Hot” (1959) starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. The film follows two musicians who witness a mob hit and go into hiding by dressing up as women and joining an all-female band on a tour to Florida. The film is famous for its witty script, hilarious performances, and iconic final line delivered by Monroe: “Well, nobody’s perfect.” “Some Like It Hot” has remained a beloved classic in the decades since its release and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest comedies of all time.

Coming-of-Age Story: A genre that focuses on a young protagonist’s personal growth and development, often involving themes of adolescence, identity, and self-discovery. “The Breakfast Club” is a famous coming-of-age story film directed by John Hughes and released in 1985. The film takes place over the course of a Saturday when five high school students from different cliques are forced to spend the day together in detention. Over the course of the day, they learn about each other’s struggles and discover that they have more in common than they thought. The film deals with themes such as identity, social pressure, and self-discovery, and has become a classic of the coming-of-age genre.

Conspiracy: A genre that explores secret plots, hidden agendas, and cover-ups, often involving political or societal themes. One famous Conspiracy film is “The Da Vinci Code,” directed by Ron Howard and based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown. The movie follows symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and cryptographer Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) as they try to solve a murder mystery that leads them on a quest for the Holy Grail, while being pursued by members of a secret society who will stop at nothing to protect their centuries-old conspiracy. The film is known for its intricate plot, historical references, and controversial themes.

Courtroom: A genre that focuses on legal proceedings and the drama of the courtroom. One famous courtroom film is “12 Angry Men” (1957), directed by Sidney Lumet. The film follows twelve jurors as they deliberate the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of murdering his father. The entire movie takes place in one room as the jurors discuss and debate the evidence presented in the case. The film is known for its tense atmosphere, excellent acting, and its commentary on the flaws of the justice system.

Crime: Crime films often involve a protagonist’s attempts to solve or prevent a crime, and may feature elements of suspense, action, and drama. One of the most famous crime movies is “The Godfather,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1972. Based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo, the film follows the story of the Corleone family, a powerful Italian-American mafia clan, as they navigate the criminal underworld in the aftermath of World War II. The film is known for its iconic performances by Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan, as well as its complex plot and themes of power, loyalty, and family. “The Godfather” is widely regarded as a masterpiece of American cinema and has had a significant influence on the crime genre and popular culture.

Dark Comedy: A genre that blends humor with darker, often taboo subjects such as death, violence, or illness. A famous dark comedy is “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), directed by Stanley Kubrick. The film satirizes the nuclear scare of the Cold War era, with Peter Sellers playing multiple roles, including the titular Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi scientist who advises the US president on how to survive a nuclear attack. The film blends humor with a very serious topic, highlighting the absurdity of the arms race and the dangers of nuclear weapons. It has since become a classic in the genre of dark comedy.

Drama: Dramas are characterized by serious or emotional subject matter, often exploring human relationships, societal issues, or personal struggles. One famous drama film is “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994), directed by Frank Darabont and based on a novella by Stephen King. The film tells the story of a banker named Andy Dufresne, who is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, a crime he insists he did not commit. While in prison, he befriends a fellow inmate named Red and uses his financial expertise to help the prison guards and the warden. The film explores themes of hope, friendship, and redemption. “The Shawshank Redemption” has received critical acclaim and is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

Dystopian: A genre that depicts a bleak and oppressive future society, often with a focus on societal issues such as government control, environmental decay, or technological domination. A famous dystopian film is “Blade Runner” (1982), directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. The film is set in a future version of Los Angeles where genetically engineered replicants have been created to perform dangerous or undesirable work in off-world colonies. However, when a group of replicants illegally return to Earth seeking answers about their existence, a retired cop (Ford) is tasked with hunting them down. The film explores themes of artificial intelligence, identity, and the consequences of technological advancement. “Blade Runner” has since become a cult classic and highly influential in the sci-fi genre.

Fantasy: Fantasy films often feature elements of magic, mythology, or otherworldly creatures, with an emphasis on adventure and imagination. “The NeverEnding Story” is a classic 1980s fantasy film that tells the story of a young boy named Bastian who discovers a magical book that transports him to a mysterious land called Fantasia. In Fantasia, he meets a variety of strange and wondrous creatures, including Falkor the luckdragon, and together they journey to save Fantasia from a dark force known as the “Nothing.” Along the way, Bastian learns important lessons about the power of imagination and the importance of facing one’s fears.

Farce: A genre that relies on exaggerated situations, physical humor, and misunderstandings to create comedic situations. “Airplane!” is a famous farce movie that was released in 1980. Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, it parodies the disaster film genre, specifically the 1957 film “Zero Hour!” The film features an ensemble cast including Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, and Lloyd Bridges. “Airplane!” is known for its rapid-fire jokes and slapstick humor, and is often cited as one of the funniest films of all time. It was a commercial and critical success, and has since become a cult classic.

Film Noir: A genre that is characterized by dark, cynical themes and a visual style that often features shadows, low angles, and stark lighting. “Casablanca” (1942) is often considered one of the most famous film noir movies, even though it is not a traditional film noir in terms of style and aesthetics. The film features a complex web of characters, deception, and moral ambiguity set against the backdrop of World War II. It also has the iconic performances of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, memorable dialogue, and a haunting musical score. Despite being made over 75 years ago, “Casablanca” remains a beloved classic and a quintessential example of the film noir genre.

Heist: A genre that involves a group of characters attempting to carry out a daring theft or robbery. One of the most famous heist movies is “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001), directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. The film follows Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his team of eleven criminals as they plan to rob three of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas. The film is known for its clever plot twists, stylish cinematography, and witty dialogue, as well as the chemistry between the ensemble cast. “Ocean’s Eleven” was a critical and commercial success and spawned two sequels and a spin-off.

Historical Drama: A genre that is set in a specific historical period and is often based on real events or figures. One famous historical drama is “Schindler’s List” (1993), directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film stars Liam Neeson as Schindler and won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie is known for its powerful storytelling, emotional performances, and haunting imagery that captures the horrors of the Holocaust.

Mockumentary: A genre that parodies documentary filmmaking by presenting fictional characters and situations in a documentary style. “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is a mockumentary that parodies beauty pageants in a small town in Minnesota. The film uses a documentary style to follow the contestants, their families, and the pageant officials as they prepare for the competition. The humor comes from the absurdity and satire of the situations, as well as the exaggerated personalities of the characters. The film is known for its dark comedy and memorable performances from its cast.

Musical: Musicals often tell a story through song and dance, with elaborate musical numbers and romantic or comedic plotlines. One of the most famous musical films is “The Sound of Music,” which was released in 1965 and directed by Robert Wise. It stars Julie Andrews as Maria, a young woman who becomes a governess to the children of a widowed naval captain, played by Christopher Plummer, in Austria just before World War II. The film is known for its iconic songs, including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” and “Edelweiss,” as well as its stunning cinematography and memorable performances. It won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and remains a beloved classic to this day.

Mystery: A genre that involves a protagonist’s attempts to solve a puzzle or unravel a complex plot, often involving crime or suspense. One famous mystery film is “Gone Girl” (2014), directed by David Fincher and based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn. The film tells the story of a man whose wife disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary and becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. As the investigation unfolds, the audience is taken on a thrilling ride with unexpected twists and turns, leading to a shocking conclusion. “Gone Girl” received critical acclaim for its direction, screenplay, and performances, and was a commercial success, grossing over $370 million worldwide.

Myth: A genre that explores mythological and supernatural themes, often involving gods, monsters, and heroic quests. One example of a famous myth film is “Clash of the Titans,” which tells the story of Perseus and his quest to save the city of Argos from the wrath of the gods. The film is based on Greek mythology and features iconic creatures such as Medusa and the Kraken.

Post-Apocalyptic: A genre that is set in a world after a major catastrophic event, often involving survival and rebuilding. One of the most famous post-apocalyptic films is “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), directed by George Miller. The film is set in a dystopian future where water and gasoline are scarce resources, and people fight for survival in a harsh, barren wasteland. The story follows a former police officer named Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) and a rebel warrior named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as they try to escape a tyrannical ruler and his army while protecting a group of women. The film is known for its thrilling action sequences, stunning visuals, and strong performances, and has been praised for its feminist themes and portrayal of complex, flawed characters in a harsh, unforgiving world.

Psychological: A genre that explores characters’ inner lives and mental states, often involving themes of trauma, mental illness, or personality disorders. “Black Swan” (2010) is a famous psychological film directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina who strives for perfection in her role as the Swan Queen in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”. As she becomes more and more obsessed with her performance and her own transformation into the character, her mind begins to unravel and she descends into madness. The film is a harrowing exploration of the psychological toll that comes with intense ambition and perfectionism, and the themes of duality, transformation, and identity are masterfully woven throughout the story. The film received widespread critical acclaim and won multiple awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress for Portman’s performance.

Romance: Romantic films typically center around a love story, often with a focus on relationships, emotional connections, and personal growth. One of the most famous romantic films is “The Notebook” (2004), directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. The film tells the story of a young couple, Allie and Noah, who fall in love during the 1940s but are separated by social class and World War II. The film then follows their journey as they reunite years later and try to rekindle their love, despite the challenges that stand in their way. The movie became a cultural phenomenon, known for its emotional performances by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, as well as its iconic rain-soaked kiss scene.

Romantic Comedy: A genre that combines elements of romance and humor, often featuring a romantic relationship between two characters with comedic situations. One of the most famous romantic comedies is “When Harry Met Sally” directed by Rob Reiner and starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The film follows the story of two friends who bump into each other over the years and finally realize they may have deeper feelings for each other. The film is known for its witty dialogue, memorable scenes such as the “fake orgasm” scene in the diner, and for popularizing the idea of the “friend zone”. “When Harry Met Sally” is considered a classic in the romantic comedy genre and has been referenced and parodied in popular culture.

Satire: A genre that uses humor and irony to critique society or politics. A popular satire film is “Network” (1976), directed by Sidney Lumet. The film satirizes the television industry and its impact on American society through the story of a news anchor who becomes increasingly unstable and deranged on live television. The film’s most famous scene features the anchor’s iconic rant, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” The film was a critical and commercial success, winning four Academy Awards and cementing its status as a classic of the genre.

Science fiction: Science fiction films explore speculative or futuristic concepts, often involving advanced technology or space travel. “Star Wars: A New Hope” is a classic science fiction film that tells the story of a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker who discovers his destiny as a Jedi Knight and sets out to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Empire. Along with his friends Han Solo and Chewbacca, Luke faces off against Darth Vader and the Imperial forces in a thrilling adventure that takes place in a galaxy far, far away. The film features iconic characters, epic space battles, and groundbreaking special effects that revolutionized the sci-fi genre and made it a pop culture phenomenon.

Spy: The spy film genre typically involves a government agent or espionage operative working covertly to uncover and thwart a sinister plot or enemy organization. One of the most famous examples of spy movies is the James Bond series, which has been ongoing since the release of “Dr. No” in 1962. The films typically feature a suave, sophisticated secret agent (played by a variety of actors, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig) who engages in action-packed missions to save the world from various villains and their nefarious plans. The movies are known for their iconic theme music, flashy gadgets, and exotic locations, as well as their memorable villains, such as Blofeld, Goldfinger, and Jaws.

Superhero: The superhero film genre is characterized by films that feature heroes with extraordinary abilities, often derived from a mutation, accident, or technology. These heroes use their powers to fight against villains who threaten their city or the world at large. The genre has its roots in comic books and has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many franchises and standalone films featuring well-known characters such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, and Wonder Woman. Superhero films often blend action, adventure, and drama with themes of heroism, justice, and morality.

Techno-thriller/Cyberpunk: A genre that combines elements of science fiction and thriller, often involving advanced technology and the dangers of a dystopian future. One example of a famous techno-thriller/cyberpunk film is “The Matrix” directed by the Wachowski siblings. The film takes place in a dystopian future where humans are unknowingly trapped in a simulated reality created by sentient machines. The protagonist, Neo, is a computer programmer who is awakened to this reality and joins a rebellion against the machines. The film’s action sequences, philosophical themes, and groundbreaking visual effects have made it a classic of the science fiction genre, and it has inspired numerous imitators and homages in popular culture.

Thriller: Thrillers typically involve high stakes and suspenseful situations, often with a focus on crime, espionage, or other forms of danger. “Rear Window” is a classic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1954. The film stars James Stewart as a photographer with a broken leg who spends his time observing his neighbors through his apartment window. When he suspects one of them of committing murder, he enlists the help of his girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, to investigate. The tension and suspense build as the protagonist becomes more deeply involved in the mystery, leading to a thrilling climax. “Rear Window” is widely regarded as one of Hitchcock’s greatest films and a masterpiece of the thriller genre.

Urban Fantasy: A genre that combines elements of fantasy and contemporary settings, often involving magic, supernatural creatures, and hidden worlds. One example of an urban fantasy film is “Constantine” (2005), based on the DC Comics character John Constantine. The movie stars Keanu Reeves as a supernatural detective who battles demons and other dark forces in modern-day Los Angeles. The film features a unique blend of supernatural elements with gritty, urban settings, and has gained a cult following for its stylish visuals and intense action sequences.

Utopian: A genre that depicts an ideal and perfect society, often with a focus on the benefits of technology or social harmony. One example of a utopian film is “The Giver” (2014), which is based on the novel of the same name by Lois Lowry. The film takes place in a seemingly perfect society where there is no pain, suffering or war, but everything is controlled by the government. The protagonist, Jonas, is selected to become the Receiver of Memory and begins to uncover the dark secrets of his society, which leads him to rebel against the status quo and search for true freedom and happiness.

War Films: A genre that depicts military conflict, often with an emphasis on the experiences of soldiers and the impact of war on society. One of the most famous war films is “Saving Private Ryan” directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is set during the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II and follows a group of American soldiers led by Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) on a mission to find and rescue Private James Francis Ryan (played by Matt Damon), whose three brothers have been killed in combat. The film is known for its intense and realistic depiction of the horrors of war, including its opening scene which portrays the brutal and chaotic landing of American troops on Omaha Beach. “Saving Private Ryan” was both a critical and commercial success, winning five Academy Awards and grossing over $480 million worldwide.

Western: Westerns often take place in the American Old West, featuring cowboys, gunslingers, and stories of the frontier. One of the most famous Western films is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Directed by Sergio Leone and released in 1966, the film stars Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the lead roles. Set during the American Civil War, the film follows three men who are in search of a buried treasure. Along the way, they confront each other in a series of tense and violent showdowns. Known for its iconic music, memorable characters, and stunning cinematography, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is widely regarded as one of the greatest Western films ever made.

If you’re still feeling stuck on where to begin, check out our filmmaker resources blog post.