2020 Live FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cyberpunk?

Cyberpunk is a literary genre that came to the forefront in the 1980s, typically characterized by protagonists living in tech-saturated hyper-real near-future worlds that had avoided self-annihilation and were in the process of reinventing themselves. See the Wikipedia entry on Cyberpunk for more info, but know that the Wikipedia entry’s assertion that cyberpunk is “dystopian” is considered by many to be wrong. Cyberpunk is not a dystopian genre, it came from a time of nuclear threat and told stories of a world that did not end in a nuclear holocaust. Cyberpunk is a genre of hope, as expressed by genre author Bruce Sterling in many interviews and a particularly engaging 2019 SXSW speech. There is a great deal of literature in this genre, and to understand it best, one should generally start reading the source material.

Can I submit a film I’ve already made?

No, you’ll need to include Required Challenge Elements in your project to keep the competition fair. These elements will not be published until the first day of the festival (see the Rules for more information). You are of course free to brainstorm ideas for what your film will be about, but starting to shoot anything before you know what the final requirements are going to be would be inadvisable.

Do I need a Hackers On Planet Earth 2020 conference ticket to participate?

No, but there is a submission fee to submit your project if you don’t have a HOPE 2020 ticket. Info about submission fees is available on the FilmFreeway Cyberpunk Now submission portal.

If you do have a HOPE 2020 ticket, the waiver form is here.

Where do the submission fees go?

The submission fees help pay for the operating costs of this year’s festival and help provide a seed fund for the next event. If we aren’t able to secure enough sponsors, the entry fees will be used to provide prizes. If you would like to help support the organization, please take a look at the festival store or consider sponsoring the event.

How do I find actors and crew to make my movie?

As long as you follow the Rules, how you produce your submission is generally up to you. One thing you are definitely allowed to do before the festival starts is to assemble your team. This is obviously complicated by the coronavirus situation. If you and your team are practicing strict social distancing, you’ll need to find actors who have access to cameras and microphones, but this also opens up opportunities. Remember that everyone who works on your project must be a volunteer, you cannot hire actors for your film, so it is advisable to start networking immediately.

How long should my film be?

There are the specific minimum and maximum lengths for the projects (based on the category to which you intend to submit) outlined in the Rules, but a good perennial rule of thumb in all storytelling and artmaking is that less is more. Within the rules, use only the amount of time absolutely necessary to tell the story. Cut on the action, get in late, and get out early. Your job as a storyteller is to hold the audience’s attention, so don’t strain yourself by trying to hold it any longer than necessary.

With all the trouble in the world right now, isn’t making movies a waste of energy and resources?

What the world needs most right now is good communication. Express your feelings, expose atrocities, share what’s wrong, and share ideas for solutions. For those of us who don’t know how to make vaccines, this might actually be the most productive thing we can do right now.

What counts as the color “blue” for the purposes of the Animation challenge’s Required Challenge Elements, and does the time limit include the Official Festival Slate segment?

With regards to “blue,” we are leaving it subjective, up to judges’ individual discretion. So, play it safe or be really really creative.

With regard to the time specified, the “first 45 seconds” and “first half” clocks begin at the beginning of the Official Festival Slate. You do not need to remove the color blue from the Official Festival Slate.

Can you provide more clarity on what the definition of holding a flashlight backward is for the Drama challenge requirement?

This could be interpreted as the beam pointing behind the person holding the flashlight, or alternatively it could mean someone gripping the flashlight with the beam pointing the opposite direction from their fingers but being unrelated to the direction they are facing. Basically, it could go either way, illuminating behind the character, or gripping the tool backward and pointing the beam forward.

For the Found Footage challenge, can you provide your own soundtrack over the video footage, or does all the sound need to be from the found pieces?

Only video clips need to come from Archive.org. The soundtrack could be fully original or a mashup, as long as it conforms to the rest of the rules (i.e. not someone else’s material unless you have their permission or it’s public domain).

If you’re working on another challenge (say, experimental), does all the found footage need to come from archive.org or can it come from creative commons? Or, if you’re not in the found footage challenge does that mean no film from sources other than what you film yourself?

All found footage for the Found Footage Challenge must come from archive.org, it is essentially a scavenger hunt with a limited search area.

Rules excerpt:

The sole exemption to the valid production period rule for when content may be recorded applies to Public Domain footage acquired from The Internet Archive. Use of Public Domain footage must be disclosed in a log, as detailed in the Category-Specific Requirements for the Found Footage challenge category.

You may apply this Found Footage specification to the Experimental category if you wish.

Note that Creative Commons and Public Domain are not the same. Footage with a Creative Commons license which is not in the Public Domain should not be included in your project.

Footage with a Creative Commons Attribution license may be used in both the Found Footage and Experimental categories.

The Creative Commons Sharealike and Creative Commons Non-Commercial licenses are not sufficient for use in the competition.

What file format do I need to submit?

Projects should be uploaded in either 720p or 1080p resolution with h.264 codec as MPEG4 files (MPEG wrapper, not Quicktime) via the FilmFreeway submission portal at https://filmfreeway.com/CyberpunkNow.

The file should really not be larger than 1GB.

The Rules section states that “After your submission has been uploaded, you should receive a request from Festival Organizers to download the video through the FilmFreeway system” – I have submitted my project earlier today but still didn’t get this one. When should I expect it?

The download requests are triggered manually by organizers, so there will be a delay between your submission and the arrival of the download request.

If you have not received a download request by 7am EDT on July 31st, contact the Festival Organizers in the Rules channel on the festival Discord server. Let them know the time you submitted, submission title, and if you have a tracking number (looks like CPNFF_####).