Study Abroad Short Film Contest

We challenge you to create the best short film of your time abroad for inclusion in the Las Cruces International Film Festival!

This video can be a documentary or a narrative project, no longer than 7 minutes.  You may use anything you like to shoot your film: a smart phone, a GoPro, your own camera equipment.  We’re looking for the top 10 films shot by students showcasing your time and experiences abroad.

Deadline to submit to the LCIFF page at Withoutabox:  December 15, 2016

Dates of the festival:   March 1 – 5, 2017

The top ten films will be screened as part of the Study Abroad Short Film Festival block in the Las Cruces International Film Festival.

Winner will be recognized at the Festival Awards Ceremony, and will receive a gift card to Andele’s Restaurant in Mesilla.


Tips & Tricks


IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:  You may only use music that you either have the rights to or is in public domain.

Information from “Mobile Movies,” by Nidhi Singal

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Watch and study some videos captured using mobile phones.  Once you have finalized the location, see what time of day offers the best light for your shoot.  com showcases some of the best videos shot by amateurs and professionals.  Study how the subject has been placed for the best effect.  The short movie “Apple of My Eye” on Vimeo is a perfect example of how professional videos can be captured using a smartphone.
  2. STORYBOARD: All great filmmakers think of a storyboard, or visual outline, first.  There is no rule of thumb here, but shooting with a phone has its limitations and one should stick to the work at hand and not get carried away by the surroundings.
  3. AIRPLANE MODE: Make sure you either remove the SIM card or turn on the airplane mode of your phone.  You do not want an incoming call in the middle of the shoot.
  4. ORIENTATION: Never use a smartphone in portrait mode.  Always shoot in the horizontal mode as it not only gives you a better grip on the device but also aligns the video orientation for viewing on the PC or TV.  In vertical mode, the video has to be rotated while editing, which leaves some black bars on the side, popularly known as pillar boxing.
  5. AMBIENCE AND LIGHTING: Proper lighting is vital for any video shoot.  That is why experts say you should shoot in bright light.  But this doesn’t mean you can only shoot around noon when the contrast can be harsh.  If this is unavoidable, shoot from an elevated angle so that the sky is mostly out of the frame.  Alternately, you can choose to shoot on a cloud day; under shade; or even during early morning or evening hours.  The sensors used in camera phones are not able to capture drastic variations in light in a single frame.   While you can manage good shots outdoors, shooting indoors is trickier, as both low light and high light can be a bit of a spoiler.  You might want to put a dark piece of clothing or fabric over anything objects that cause a reflection.  Similarly, while shooting outdoors, especially in bright light, white sheets or cloths can be used as diffusers to control the lighting.  They are an easy option for home moviemakers.
  6. DISTANCE TO THE OBJECT: Zooming in on your subject using the digital zoom on the phone is a big NO if you want to shoot quality video.  Though we have video stabilization in smartphones, they are not that effective when you are zooming in on an object.  Even a slight vibration can leave the video all shaky and blurred.  Instead, you should move closer to the subject, but slowly.
  7. STEADY YOUR CAMERA: What looks OK on a small screen, is going to be magnified ten fold on a large screen, a small vibration can make an audience sea sick.
  8. BASIC EDITING: Once the footage has been captured, edit it using iMovies if you have a Mac OS.  Or you can use the Windows Live Movie Maker.


If you have any questions or concerns about this opportunity, please don’t hesitate to contact Amy Lanasa, Department Head of the Creative Media Institute:, 575-646-6142.


Filming Apps

Filmic Pro (iOS and Androic) ~$10



iMovie for iOS

Windows Live Movie Maker


Getting Clips from iPhones to iMovie


Information about Music Rights: