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    VILLAIN FEST - Official Rules and Guidelines
    Moderator Zak Forsman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Los Angeles


    DVXuser Presents
    April 7th - July 7, 2011


    The VILLAIN (also known in film and literature as the "bad guy", "black hat", or "heavy") is often the most important character in a work of fiction because the villain’s plan is the fuel for the plot. As Hitchcock said, “The better the villain, the better the picture.”

    For further reading, please see the following wikipedia link:

    We've included some ideas and principles for you to digest. Give these the same consideration you would normally give the theme or genre of past DVXFests. And make us proud.


    While not required, we hope you will consider the following fundamentals of good storytelling when crafting your stories. Jack Daniel Stanley has provided an excellent resource for writing short films based on the structural principles of Flash Fiction found here:

    Also, consider the following principles of "a good story, well told" and incorporate all or as many as suit your project.

    THE VILLAIN’S PLAN - Because the villain provides the fuel for the plot, and not the hero, the villain must want to do something. “Wanting to be left alone” is the hero’s job. When the villain sets his plan into motion, the hero must do something to stop him. Your villain drives the plot while the hero reacts to increasing levels of threat.

    THEME - This is the central thesis of your story. For example, ”Is it better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all?” or “must one take risks in order to grow?” or maybe “can justice prevail if the cops are as dirty as the crooks?” Theme is the central question of your story and a definitive answer to that question with a "yes" or "no" will conclude it. Does a story need theme? Can’t it just be about “what it’s about?” In the same way great dialogue isn’t about the words themselves, a great story is enriched by the theme. It is tied directly to your protagonist’s internal/emotional conflict. It’s the part of him or her that’s broken and the reason they keep failing throughout most of your story. it’s the thing that must be addressed before they can be “reborn” as the person who is capable of resolving the external/physical conflict (aka the villain’s plan) right when things couldn’t get any worse. When developing main and supporting characters, ask yourself how their goals, needs, fears and occupation are tied to the theme. And ask yourself how each scene illustrates emotional issues, character arc, differences between the protagonist and antagonist, or the major decision your protagonist ultimately has to make… and tie it all to your theme.

    THE FOUR QUESTIONS - Does your story acknowledge the following questions: Who is your Protagonist? What are they after? Who or what is in their way? And what are the consequences if they fail?

    IS IT HIGH CONCEPT? - Without famous actors and the luxury of a 90 minute running time, short films benefit greatly from placing the concept first. If it were pitched as a feature, would it attract a star and name director? If someone else made this, would you watch it based on the logline alone? In short, is your story the star?

    A CLEAR MOTIVATION - Do we know what your Protagonist wants from the beginning? And are we on board with him/her? Do we care?

    GET IN LATE AND GET OUT EARLY - To avoid pacing issues, in each scene ask yourself what point is the absolute latest I can jump into the scene and the earliest I should leave it. Do we need to see the character walk into or leave the room, or introduce themselves to the other characters in the scene? What happens if they are already underway by the time we join them? Is anything lost? Look at the beginning and ending of your scenes and ask: Is it essential? Is it dramatic?

    UNIFY INTERNAL & EXTERNAL CONFLICT - Does your protagonist have to confront an internal issue in order to solve an external problem? For example, must your main character learn the meaning of love before he's willing to fist fight his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend? Must the cyborg rediscover what it means to be human before he can save all of humanity? Unify the internal and external.

    PRIVATE, PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL THREADS - A fully-realized Protagonist can be illustrated by three levels of problems: private, personal and professional.

    PRIVATE: Conflict known only to your main character.
    PERSONAL: Conflict known only to characters close to your main character.
    PROFESSIONAL: Conflict known to all or most characters in the story.

    In a work of short fiction two of the three may be greatly minimized, but consider the value in a set of obstacles that confront your Protagonist on multiple levels. For example, say that your superhero must defeat the plans of the villain (professional), keep his love interest safe from harm (personal), AND avenge the death of his parents (private).

    AVOID CLICHE ACTION & EXPOSITORY DIALOGUE - Have we seen this before? If so, consider doing the reverse. When you find yourself faced with a cliche, re-consider the following questions for each scene: Who wants what? What happens if they don't get it? And why now? If you find yourself writing dialogue between two characters about an off-screen third, consider dramatizing that information instead. How can we show that rather than tell it? As an exercise, if you deprive your characters of speech, how would the scenes play out dramatically? Now knowing that, how would dialogue elevate it?


    DVXuser has set April 7th 2011 to July 7, 2011 as the designated shooting dates for all VILLAIN FEST films. Films MUST be made between this time. Deadline for entries is July 7th, 2011 at 4pm Pacific Daylight Time (GMT - 7)


    A VIDEO FROM THE SET – We have brought back the required element this Fest. You are required to post a video from the set of your production that introduces the community to you, your cast and crew (however big or small) and share your vision for your project. Let the community know how things are going, what challenges you’ve faced, maybe some special effects tricks and tips, or what gear you are using and help put a face to the DVXFest filmmakers. Be careful not to expose or reveal any content from the film itself (behind the scenes coverage of scenes, takes, dialogue should not appear in these videos).

    A REQUIRED PROP OR ELEMENT - Your choice: MONEY, MAGIC†, a MASK, a MUGSHOT or a MUSTACHE. Choose one and you will be asked to note which prop appears in your film and the timecode where it appears as you upload your short. The prop must be used by, or hold the attention of, one of your central characters. Use it to illustrate something about the character, or to give an actor some sort of business while delivering dialogue. The prop cannot simply sit in the background as set dressing. Have some fun with it! If you have questions or need clarification, ask a mod or post in this thread.

    †"Magic" includes both the illusion of supernatural forces and actual supernatural forces.

    A POSTER – A poster submitted with your finished entry must be equivalent dimensions to a standard one-sheet (27"x40"). A smaller, equivalent dimension would be 720px x 486px (same dimensions as a standard one-sheet, but much smaller). Can also be portrait (27"x40") or landscape (40"x27"). Poster must not exceed 5MB

    Post both required elements to your film thread, found here. You MAY be required to provide the poster and a link to your behind the scenes video at the time you upload your short film.


    ENTRY FEE - There is NO Entry Fee. As always, our festivals are free and open to the public.

    SUBMISSIONS - Each Filmmaker may submit a maximum of TWO (2) films. However, there is no limit to the number of films you may collaborate on, and you are encouraged to do so. Films MUST be separate, and not two halves of a whole film.

    RUNNING TIME - Your total film, including all opening titles and credits, may not exceed six minutes. PERIOD. Note: This does not include the length of the leader (see below for more information on leader).

    TITLE - you must include the title of your film in your film. This may be in any format and may appear anywhere within the 6 minutes of the film.

    CREDITS - There is NO credit requirement. Use them if you want to. Don't if you don't. No minimum. No maximum. All you must do is have the title of your film, somewhere in your film, as per the rule above. If you wish to include credits, you may (but they do count against your 6-minute runtime.) If you don't want to include credits, you don't have to.

    FESTIVAL LEADER - You will also be required to attach a DVXuser sanctioned leader to the beginning of your film. The running time of the leader does NOT count against your six minutes. (Note: If the length of the entry exceeds 6 Minutes PLUS the length of your chosen leader, it will be disqualified. NO EXCEPTIONS.) Example: Leader is :09 seconds. Film is 6:00. Total runtime would not exceed 6:09

    Must be one of the leaders provided here:

    No visual modifications to the leader without the express written permission of the DVXFest Staff/Forum Moderators.
    You are free to alter the leader's audio in any way. If audio is provided with the leader you may use it, omit it, or replace it as you see fit (examples include, but are not limited to: overdubbed narration, V.O., music, etc)

    NOTE: We would love to continue to add leaders to our pool, so that submitting filmmakers have the most variety to choose from as possible. If you are interested in creating additional leaders for DVXFest Short Film Festivals, please go to this thread for information on how to enter the minifest:

    CAMERAS - Films may be shot with any camera and may be delivered in any aspect ratio. Depending on the viewing process this time around, if you have an unorthodox aspect ratio (such as "Again to Return" from LossFest), you may be required to submit a letter/pillarboxed version. Please just keep this in the back of your head as we move forward.

    CONTENT - Films must be Rated "R" or lower... This is a hard R. If you are unsure, please ask first. Do NOT assume.

    COPYRIGHT - Absolutely NO Copyright Violations. Your material must be original, licensed, Public Domain, or royalty free. This includes (but is not limited to) Your script, music, sound effects, etc. DVXuser assumes ZERO liability for copyright violations in your submitted entry. We will however, screen all films to ensure as best we can that they adhere to the rules of the festival and all applicable Copyright Laws. Any film known to have a copyright violation will be removed from the festival entirely. i.e. Will NOT be eligible as an exhibition entry either.

    RIGHTS - All Filmmakers agree to grant DVXuser a NON-exclusive license to freely use your film for promotional purposes, for it to appear on a future DVXFest DVD (should there be one) or at a DVXuser Sanctioned Public Screening. We will make every attempt to contact you first if any of the above situations should apply to your film to allow you to OPT OUT of this agreement for any reason you may feel necessary. You may also contact at us at any time and request removal of your film from the website for any reason. It is important that you provide accurate and reliable contact information when submitting your film.

    PUBLIC EXHIBITION - You may NOT publicly exhibit any MOVING IMAGES from your film entry, or footage shot for your film entry (this includes outtakes, alternate takes, etc) in part, or in whole prior to the conclusion of the festival, or your participation in the competition portion of the festival. At such time you publicly exhibit any footage from your film, this will be seen as a forfeiture of any rights to prizes, awards, or acknowledgments. You will cease to be in competition at this point, and will be deemed "exhibition only," at a minimum, or may be removed from the festival entirely at our discretion.

    FIRST EXCEPTION: If you have submitted your film to a LIVE Film Festival and been accepted (Slamdance, for example) and your film will air before the conclusion of our festival, this is an acceptable exception. HOWEVER, you MUST notify us in advance of taking advantage of this exemption. This exemption applies ONLY to LIVE festivals. Screening in any other online festival prior to the conclusion of this fest, will render your film invalid for competition in VILLAIN FEST. However, NO films may be publicly exhibited in any form until being excluded from competition as a finalist or winner.

    SECOND EXCEPTION: You MAY post screen grabs from your footage. You MAY also post stills or additional video (beyond what’s required) of BEHIND THE SCENES footage and interviews of your cast and crew in the form of a documentary, podcast, etc. However, NO fictional elements that encompass or extend the narrative of your film are permitted – this includes a restriction on behind the scenes footage of actual takes.

    LANGUAGE & SUBTITLES - The Festival is open to every country and every language. However, if your film's dialogue is in a language other than English, you must include English subtitles in your submitted entry.

    ANONYMOUS ENTRIES - These are permitted ONLY with pre-approval from the DVXFest staff so that we may provide you with general guidelines to follow.

    DVXUSER & DVXFEST STAFF ELIGIBILITY - DVXuser Moderators, and DVXFest staff, are free to enter films, and have them rated and discussed by the viewers. However, they will NOT be eligible for physical prizes.

    However, the administrator of dvxuser may not compete in any way and will be exhibition only should he choose to participate as an entrant in the fest. Other Festival and DVXFest staff, may compete for fun, but not for prizes beyond recognition of audience favorite awards or the like.

    OUTSIDE PROMOTION - You may promote your individual entry outside of DVXuser for the purposes of drawing attention to the festival, your entry, and to let people know the work you are involved in.

    This is NOT to include any kind of vote begging whatsoever. The purpose is to draw attention to the festival and to your individual entry, not to garner votes. You must also include a direct link to the VILLAIN FEST forum, not just your own thread. DVXuser will not tolerate any kind of "spamish" behavior. Any outside activities deemed by the festival staff to be considered "spammy" or "vote beggy" may lead to your immediate disqualification from the festival.

    Marketing is part of the filmmaking process, so we encourage you to take full advantage of it and enjoy spreading the word about your film via social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Be creative and have fun with it.

    TRAILERS/TEASERS - If you wish to make a teaser/trailer for your film, you may BUT... It may NOT contain any live-action footage of any kind WHATSOEVER. Whether from your film or not. Absolutely NO live action footage. So, think of it more as a teaser than a trailer.

    You MAY produce marketing material promoting DVXFest on the whole, and these may be displayed at anytime. The NO Footage rule, still applies to anything entered in the current festival. You MAY use footage from previous festivals, but please obtain the filmmaker's permission for any clips you would like to use in this manner. DVXuser reserves the right to allow for promotional videos that include current festival entries at our discretion and only with our approval.

    IF you are not absolutely sure that your teaser would be legal, then you need to ASK FIRST.


    Upload information will be made available about a week before the submission deadline and will remain open until the deadline passes. Upload as early as possible in order to have time to adjust if you have a rule compliance violation.


    The films will go live by July 11th, 2011. There will be two rounds of rating, and the rating system will be much the same as it has been for the past several fests... a 10 star rating system. We will have an additional sticky thread that will post as a FAQ/Q&A for the rating period.

    The first round of Rating will take place from July 11th, 2011 (at the time the viewing officially opens) until 1 PM Pacific Daylight Time (GMT - 7), July 18th, 2011.

    Once the first round of rating closes, we will review and verify the results and in the same day announce a to-be-determined number of films that will be designated "Finalists". The 2nd round of rating will run from July 19th, 2011 until July 24th, 2011.

    ANYONE will be eligible to rate the films. HOWEVER, only ratings by persons who are registered DVXuser Members, with 50 posts or more, (or if you are a submitting filmmaker) will determine the Finalists and the Winners of the festival acknowledgments and prizes (if any).

    Please note, if you are a submitting filmmaker, there is no post requirement. If you wish to have your rating counted for the competition phase, you must be logged in to the viewing page and have 50 posts or more (or be a submitting filmmaker). We will post two sets of results. ALL of the ratings, and those that will decide the competition winners.

    All other ratings will be for the benefit of the filmmakers to receive data on the how good the audience thought their film was, and we MAY also announce an "Audience Favorite" that will reflect the highest overall rated film, including ALL ratings.

    Good Luck, and Enjoy VILLAIN FEST!

    DVXuser reserves the right to make alterations, clarifications, and/or modifications to the rules until July 7th, 2011. Please keep an eye on this thread for any updates.

    If you have any questions at all please feel free to ask away here in the rules thread, or, if you prefer, PM a moderator. But, let's all try to remain calm and civil as it will help the flow of information and ensure that as many people as possible have the most enjoyable festival experience possible. Please do not assume anything. If you are not absolutely certain, ask us first so we can clarify, and also make any changes necessary to the rules in the event that any confusion is caused by a lack of clarity within them.

    - The Mods

    DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THESE FILMS ARE THOSE OF THE FILMMAKER(S), AND DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF DVXUSER.COM, LANDMINE MEDIA, INC, OR ITS MANAGEMENT. DVXFest is an Open Festival with an emphasis on publicly screening any entry that meets the above guidelines. We do not typically screen for content or quality beyond verifying that films do/do not adhere to the festival guidelines. To date, greater than 99% of all films entered have screened publicly as either competition or exhibition. However, we do reserve the right to refuse screening of any film for ANY reason. Please ensure that you include reliable contact information and make yourself available during the upload process so that we may contact you if necessary.
    DOWN AND DANGEROUS is now on iTunes :: A smuggler bleeds like anyone else. He just gets more chances to prove it.

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    Senior Member stinkpot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Happy Land - Cleveland
    Tons of potential here!

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    Senior Member Matt Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    West Hollywood, CA
    Those are serious rules, i will abide.
    Matt Harris
    Director / Composer / Colorist / Motion graphics


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    Senior Member Edgen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    ATX | LA
    Sweet! Good luck people! I fully expect some badass mofos this round.

    justin r. durban -
    yup & yup.

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    Junior Member SpizyChicken's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Planet Earth
    Wish I had the time. Looks FUN! Too busy doing boring PAYING work. Blah!

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    I am in
    If you go deep into anything it will always give you pleasure”

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    Senior Member pauly_the_hitman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Las Vegas, NV
    I am gonna try really hard to get a film into this one. Life is crazy right now but I miss being involved in all this craziness. So count me in as of now.

    "I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers."

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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Greenwich, CT
    Is this for pros and super-experienced people only? I am a total newbie. Will I be carved to pieces trying here?

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    Senior Member Hawk Teflon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Yukon, Oklahoma
    This is for every level, really. Trust me, if it were for only the greats, I wouldn't even be allowed to view the threads.

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    Senior Member
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    May 2011
    Greenwich, CT
    Thanks, Hawk...... I might give it a try as it'll force me to run myself through the paces, just don't know if it's too late.

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