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Greater Erie Film Office

Greater Erie Film Office


Short Film Competition - Choose Appropriate Status

May 1 - October 31, 2017

Greater Erie Film Office

2017 Short Film Competition: "Secret in the Pines"

The Greater Erie Film Office and Greater Erie Arts Rental at PSU Behrend are excited to announce the second part of their 2017 Short Screenplay and Filmmaking competition. Open to all Pennsylvania residents. Screenplay competition entrants will use the winning script “Secret in the Pines” by Stella Ruggiero and Heidi Dugan; to create a completed short film. Although all entrants will be working from the same script, each filmmaker is permitted to alter and revise the script for production needs as long as the essence of the story is maintained. Amateur filmmakers are encouraged to collaborate with others and find resources to complete their project.
Rules and Regulations View PDF for complete Rules and Regulations

Submission Deadline: October 31st, 11:59pm
Regular Entry Fee $40.00 USD
Student Entry Fee $30.00 USD

The top 3 winning films will be chosen and screened at a live GEFO showcase in November of 2017.

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Greater Erie Arts Rental

The Greater Erie Film Office would like to thank GEAR for continuing its sponsorship of our annual Filmmaker Competition. Be sure to visit GEAR for all your filming needs at greatererieartsrental.org. GEAR rents high-end, state of the art film making equipment to local, regional & national filmmakers & production companies. An outreach project of Penn State Behrend, GEAR offers extremely competitive rental rates in the interest of developing the film industry in the area. Committed to training our student filmmakers, we offer further, significant discounts to filmmakers employing, training, or mentoring our students.

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Make your next film in Northwestern Pennsylvania

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Film Office and VisitErie the Film Society of Nortwestern Pennsylvania's Film Office invites you to Northwestern Pennsylvania as the destination for your film, television, and commercial production.


Northwestern Pennsylvania boasts four beautiful seasons, natural beaches, centuries of industrial boom and bust, and a rich maritime history. The “chimney” of Pennsylvania is truly its crowning jewel, and an inspiring setting for your film.
Learn More Image courtesy of VisitErie

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Association of Film Commissioners International

The Greater Erie Film Office now has membership within the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), the official professional organization for film commissioners who assist film, television, and video production across the globe. The AFCI is a non-profit educational association whose members serve as city, county, state, regional, provincial, or national film commissioners in their respective governmental jurisdictions. With more than 300 AFCI-Member Film Commissions on six continents, you can almost always find an AFCI Member Film Commission to support your production.

2016 Short Screenplay Competition Winners

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Britty Lea

The making of “This is How a Road Gets Made” was an interesting experience. Britty Lea approached it how she traditionally approached her filmmaking, using her academic and professional experience, but she was unsure if she would find the resources she needed. Reaching out to the community was very successful, she found her special effects artist Chuck Jackson, her talented cast and her crew who went above and beyond anything asked of them. Britty was surprised and pleased that she was able to operate as efficiently as they did in her hometown.

Britty Lea graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television. She's directed multiple short films including her thesis film “Dreamlords” and “This is How a Road Gets Made.” She's collaborated with U.K. based artist David Boskett to create the music videos for his single releases. She also runs the annual female filmmaker showcase Film & Her, a showcase celebrating local female filmmakers. She plans to continue creating and collaborating in Erie PA.

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Kalli Oberlander

Our second screenplay competition held the theme of immigration. The 1st place winner was Kalli Oberlander with her screenplay “This is How a Road Gets Made”. Within its pages is the story of an adolescent girl and her younger brother who struggle to fit in as newcomers in the United States while coping with the horrific past they fought to leave behind.

Kalli, who is a native of Erie, PA, earned her BFA in Creative Writing at Penn State Behrend. She was the first student in the Creative Writing program to use screenwriting as a part of her senior thesis, which included both a feature length screenplay and novella of an original story. Amidst her education at Behrend, she worked as a writing tutor specializing with ESL students. Kalli stated “During my time there I got to know several refugee students and their stories of hardship their families faced to get here, not to mention some of the struggles they still face. So even though refugees and immigrants are considered different, I saw them as having very similar experiences, which definitely influenced my approach to the competition’s theme of immigration.”

Kalli plans on becoming a famous screenwriter, and so far has written and starred in another locally made short film titled "Lucky Strike." Since she has graduated, Kalli has written three full length screenplays, and continues to be involved in the local film community in Erie, PA. She has many short films already written, and is now working on getting them made and produced locally.

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Cole Daniel Hills

Cole Daniel Hills entered the contest at 13 years old, at the very last minute with a push from his sister Brittany, who went on to win best actress in the film. He flew from LA, where he spends a great deal of time, to Erie with only one week to make the film.

The film, “Age of Kaos”, written brilliantly by Tim Larson, is about a retired comic book writer with Alzheimer’s who begins to confuse reality with the comic book world he created. Cole used a dark, black and white, film noir visuals for the “comic book” world to create a great and noticeable contrast with the real world. An interesting complication… Cole’s computer crashed three days before “Age of Kaos” was due. Brittany had to film a scene on her cell phone and Cole had to re-edit the entire thing! Never give up!

Cole has been making films since he was 7 years old, starting on his sister’s laptop. (Eventually mentor, John Lyons, put a much better camera in his hands) Although a native of Erie, PA, Cole followed his sister to LA where she has pursues her own acting career. He learned, from her example, that he could do anything. He has never doubted that his future would be in the film industry.

Currently Cole edits and creates the musical scores for all of his films. He attends online school so that he can devote more time to his passion. He’s produced his own web series, “Tribulation”, which he co-writes and stars in as well. He was recently selected to work on a film with James Franco and his family in Palo Alto, CA. They choose him after viewing a short film that he produced. He will work be working with them for several months in 2017. He currently has two new films in the works with his sister under their company Chills Productions, one feature and one short; they plan to make both films here in Erie.

Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania

Tim Larson

Tim Larson took first place in GEFO’s inaugural short screenplay competition, writing on a theme of dementia or memory. Larson went on to independently direct the film based on his script, Age of Kaos, which played at over 20 festivals and venues, winning more awards along the way.

Age of Kaos was a first for Larson - his first narrative screenplay and his first time directing. But firsts have been a strong theme in his life. In 1984, he began his professional career as a technical artist and graphics software developer - culminating in a “pre-Web” browser for PC and Mac for creating tutorial software. He and his company followed that up with the first fully interactive Web textbook in 1995 - the year the Internet went commercial. He designed, developed, wrote, or produced over 100 multimedia and software projects before switching gears to a “new” medium.

In 2009, Larson turned his attention to filmmaking - based on a boyhood dream. Throughout the 70s, Larson spent every Saturday afternoon at the matinee double-feature, soaking up cinema, and dreaming of writing screenplays. When he finally took the plunge, it was as a producer - a job that matched his experience - while he learned the business. He soaked up as much as he could about the craft of film - photography, light, sound, music, art, costume, makeup, editing, rigging, and watched the directors and performers he oversaw to develop his own goals as a writer and director.

Six years later, he wrote Age of Kaos - and was thrilled to have it win in competition. Emboldened, he since opened a studio in both Erie, PA and Burbank, CA and wrote a second screenplay. Plans are in the works to produce the new screenplay, with several others in the works. Larson’s whole family is involved: his wife, Mary, is a producer; eldest daughter, Caitlin, is an editor and script supervisor; and youngest daughter, Carly, is a production designer, producer, and president of the studio.

In 2007, Larson attended Sundance with Carly, and met with two filmmakers who eventually became collaborators. One of them signed his movie poster with, “Follow your dreams, Tim.” That poster still hangs in the studio, and Larson is still following his dreams.

Tax Credit

Pennsylvania offers a 25% Tax Credit to films that spend at least 60% of their total budget in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Learn More Learn more and apply for the Film Tax Credit

Production Assistance

The Film Society of Nortwestern Pennsylvania's Film Office can assist film, television, and commercial productions with locations, vendors, crew, and governmental and business offices.
Contact Us Contact us with inquiries about film production in Northwestern Pennsylvania