What's a bumper? It's a short film designed to film before a feature film extolling the virtues of the TCFF. And it's time for you to get cracking making one and entering it in our annual TCFF Bumper Contest for a chance to win cash prizes, including a Grand Prize of $1,000.

A wonderful opportunity for aspiring and enthusiastic filmmakers looking to strut their stuff, bumpers are 20 to 60 second short films designed to play before festival feature presentations. The top bumpers submitted to the contest will be shown on screen during the 12th Annual Traverse City Film Festival and the very best will be eligible for cash prizes, including the $1,000 Grand Prize.

Some tips:

While submissions are not limited to specific themes, this year the festival is particularly interested in:

  • 100 years of movies at the State Theatre (the State turns 100 this July!)
  • The festival attendee experience
  • What’s special about the TCFF


For filmmakers wanting to improve their odds, the festival offers these tips for standing out, based on past winners:

  • Tell a story.  Narratives are usually more engaging than artistic shots or promotional ideas alone.
  • Humor, animation, and parodies of famous films have all been especially successful.
  • Production values count! Make sure your great idea can be seen and heard.


The film festival audience is diverse, so humor and references should be accessible. Keep the pacing fast and tight, and pay careful attention to lighting and sound clarity. And of course, have fun and entertain us! Watch 20152014, and 2013‘s winning trailers.

Submissions should meet the following criteria:

  • Themed around a topic of your choice appropriate to pre-TCFF movie screening
  • Length of 20 to 60 seconds
  • Submitted via online link or file on DVD or flash drive
  • Above-average production values
  • Entries can be submitted via email by June 29, 2015 to or DVDs/drives can be sent to TCFF Bumpers, PO Box 4064, Traverse City MI 49685.


Winners will be contacted after the jury makes their decisions, and will be announced in late July.