As always, the ShortDocs Challenge comes with a set of rules inspired by a partner. For 2016 that's Manual Cinema - a cinematic shadow puppet performance collective(!) that uses vintage projectors, multiple screens, life-feed cameras, actors and musicians to create film-inspired performances. It’s easier to see than explain. Check out this trailer for their show Momentos Mori, and then c’mon back. We’ll still be here.

Woah... right? In addition to creating four original just-for-Third Coast mini-movies to inspire submissions, Manual Cinema will choose one winning ShortDocs to adapt into a live stage performance, premiering at our ShortDocs Celebration on November 10th in Chicago.


The 2016 ShortDocs Challenge invites anyone and everyone to produce audio stories that are two-to-three minutes in length and:

  • are inspired by one of four original Manual Cinema mini-movies.
  • "shot" on two or more locations
  • incorporate one Manual Cinema original musical compositions (from the right-sidebar.)

The deadline for submitting your ShortDoc is 11:59pm CT on Tuesday, May 17.


Here at Third Coast we’ve been saying “Radio is the most visual of mediums” for a looong time. Now, we’re putting our money where our mouth is, launching a Challenge that asks you to create a short work to delight the mind’s eye.

We encourage you to think of your microphone as a camera - use it for close-ups and wide angle shots, zoom in and out, consider perspective and point-of-view and shadow and light. As you edit, keep in mind cinematic conventions as well - jump cuts and long fades, flashbacks and chase scenes and meet-cutes, montages and double exposures.

The possibilities are endless… just as long as your ShortDoc follows the rules.


-One winning ShortDoc will be adapted into a live stage performance by Manual Cinema at our ShortDocs Celebration on Nov. 10 in Chicago.

  • The four ShortDocs winners will receive gratis registration to the Third Coast Conference, Nov. 11-13, in Chicago.
  • Winners will take the stage to present their creations publicly at our ShortDocs Celebration on Nov. 10, alongside Manual Cinema.
  • The top 8 ShortDocs will receive a 2-year license for Hindenburg Systems editing software, as well as Hindenburg Field Recorder for iOS.
  • The first 20 ShortDocs submitted to the Challenge will receive a 1-year license for Hindenburg Systems editing software.
  • All submissions are archived permanently on this site, and all producers are added to the Third Coast Producer Index.
  • Top submissions will be featured on Third Coast’s Re:sound via radio and podcast, and presented on PRX's Public Radio Remix, and at Third Coast listening events in Chicago and beyond.


May 17 - Deadline for entries June 8 - Eight finalists announced June 8-22 - Voting open for People’s ShortDoc Award June 29 - Winners announced! Nov 10 - Winning producers and Manual Cinema take the stage at our ShortDocs Celebration. December - Top submissions featured on Re:sound


  • Producers retain non-exclusive rights to their submissions.
  • TCF retains the right to showcase all ShortDocs in service of Festival happenings – including at Listening Rooms, on Re:sound, on PRX’s Public Radio Remix. (Note – producers may also license ShortDocs themselves, through
  • Three winners will be selected by Third Coast staff, with help from Manual Cinema. An additional winner will selected by the international listening public, and crowned The People's ShortDoc Award.

Questions about how/what to submit? Check out the FAQ and/or feel free to ask.