The Traverse City Film Festival and its Sustaining Sponsor FIM Group host a bumper contest each year for a chance to win cash prizes, including a Grand Prize of $1,000. Bumpers are short films that play before feature films.

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 are shown on screen during the 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, the festival is particularly interested in what is special about TCFF! More specific themes will be announced early in 2018.

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!

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 physical drive
  • Above-average production values

Ways to Submit:

  • Email to
  • Bring submission to the festival office at 233 E. Front St.
  • Mail submission to TCFF Bumpers, PO Box 4064, Traverse City MI 49685.
  • Entries are due by July 6, 2018
For more information about the bumper contest, including the small print, visit our bumper contest page.

Scroll below to see the 2017 winners.

First Place $1,000

“Big on Film” by Anders Kelto, Megan Kelto, and Caroline Kim

“Travel” by John Plough

Runner Up $500

“Secret Life of Volunteers” by Tami Evans and Brenda Smith


“Are You Ready?” by Michael Afendakis


Honorable Mentions

“Fantasy” by Brody Steele


“Genre Leaping to TCFF” by Robert Langworthy


“Movie Date” by Don Blubaugh


“Popcorn Training” by Brian Steinberg


“The Power of Movies: A Documen-Tree” by Kathleen Jacobsen


 “The Syndrome” by Don Kuelhorn


“A TCFF Mini Doc” by Molly Jeszke