Project-FX-2016-webPress release from Count Basie Theatre

They come from communities all over New Jersey; from high schools and colleges with a campus anywhere in the Garden State. And on April 17, 2016, the Count Basie Theatre spotlights the work of a new generation of directors and documentarians, with the second annual edition of the statewide student film competition known as Project FX.

From now through February 1, 2016, filmmakers affiliated with a New Jersey college or high school are encouraged to enter a short work in the competition, with the winning films in each category receiving a screening and distribution consideration via a new, major film festival coming to the Basie, to be announced in 2016. The event’s grand prize winner will be granted an internship with Sony Pictures Classics, the major distributor headed by Middletown-based Tom Bernard.

“Last year’s crop of Project FX entries contained true, cinematic gems…works from students I’m certain will have long careers in film,” said Bernard. The co-founder and president of Sony Classics was one of numerous industry professionals involved with this year’s inaugural competition; joining a select group of judges and workshop panelists at the Sunday afternoon event that attracted hundreds of young auteurs and their supporters to the Basie this past April 19.

Project FX is open to students enrolled in any New Jersey high school or college as of September 1, 2015. Entries into the 2016 competition are limited to ten minutes, and must have been produced no earlier than January 2014 by students then and presently enrolled full-time in any New Jersey high school or college institution. Interested students will upload their films to either or, and then fill out the official festival entry form. A $25 non-refundable fee is required to enter the competition, and films previously entered for Project FX consideration are not eligible.

From there, a subcommittee and cast of master adjudicators will critique entries using a point system to rate each film’s storyline, cinematography, technical aspects, sound and editing. In March 2016, the ten highest vote-getters in both the high school and college categories will be posted on the competition’s Facebook page, where a separate tally of “Likes” and “Shares” will also factor into final scoring.

Take it here for full competition rules, regulations, prerequisites and scoring guidelines for the competition, which is sponsored by Bank of America — and stay tuned for additional details and updates on next April’s onsite festival, workshops and panels.