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FAQ


Please read through our FAQ to see if your question has already been asked & answered. If you can't find it, reach out to competition@thirdcoastfestival.org.

GENERAL

1. Is there a limit to how many entries I can submit?

There is no limit to how many times you enter our Competition, as long as each entry meets the category requirements and the eligibility window (April 7, 2018 through May 25, 2020). The only exception to this is the Audio Unbound category which, for its first year, is April 7, 2016 through May 25, 2020.

2. May I enter a program or show that includes a number of separate stories and interviews?

Each story within a program that presents multiple stories is a separate entry (such as stories within typical episodes of All Things Considered or Snap Judgment ). Enter the strongest stories, and if any of them wins a prize, the program will be recognized too.

3. Can I enter my story in multiple award categories?

Yes, provided that it meets the eligibility requirements of each category and that you provide any necessary additional information for each category. The entry form will help guide you through this process.

4. Can I enter a piece that includes fictional elements?

The Third Coast/RHDF Competition is aimed to award the best works in non-fiction, and featuring documentary technique. (We know—a person could write a thesis on what that means.) If your non-fiction work contains elements of fiction, or plays along the fuzzy line of fact/fiction, we do encourage you to enter it. (Last year’s winners included several works that played with the boundaries of fiction and nonfiction, listen here!)

5. May I enter the same piece two years in a row?

Yes, as long as your entry fits into our window of eligibility—meaning it was first presented publicly on a podcast, broadcast, online, or in a public setting (including, but not limited to, a theater, gallery, museum, classroom, event space, etc.) between April 7, 2018 and May 1, 2020 (if entering the Early Deadline) or between April 7, 2018 and May 25, 2020 (if entering before the Final Deadline.) Repeat entries have won awards the second time around.

6. May co-producers submit an entry together?

Yes! And new this year: co-productions are eligible for the Best New Artist category, as long as each of the individual producers meet the New Artist eligibility requirements.

7. May I submit work produced for commercial radio and other commercial venues?

Yep! But please remove any ads that aren't part of the work itself.

8. When will winners be notified?

Winners will be notified in the fall of 2020.

9. When will the winners be announced?

We'll announce the winners publicly in fall 2020, but won't reveal which specific award they've won until the Awards celebration. (TBA on date & location.)

10. Can work that has been featured on thirdcoastfestival.org and/or Re:sound be entered to the Competition?

Yes. Work featured on thirdcoastfestival.org and/or Re:sound is eligible for entry into the Competition.

11. What happened to the Skylarking category?

Over the years we noticed that again and again, the pieces submitted to the Skylarking category were becoming finalists in the Best Documentary Competition, and as the field—and our Competition—expanded, the lines of Skylarking were starting to become blurred, even for us! So we’re putting a pause on the category, with the knowledge that we’ll carry the intention (and the history) of the category into our critical dialogue within the Competition. (Thanks, Ira.) If you were considering submitting your piece into Skylarking, please consider submitting into one of the other categories.

12. What is the deadline by which my audio work should be published publicly to be eligible for the Competition?

Your audio work should be published by the Final Deadline of May 25.

13. I made a mistake when filling out the submission form. Can I edit my entry after I've submitted it?

Yes! Just email us at competition@thirdcoastfestival.org with your correction, and we'll make sure to update your entry to reflect it.

CATEGORY ELIGIBILITY

14. How do I know if my series is eligible for the Best Serialized Story category?

Ask yourself if the episodes in the series stand alone, and if they could be entered & judged separately even though they are on the same topic. If so, then the answer is no, and you should enter the strongest episodes or stories of your series into the Best Documentary category.

On the other hand, if your series is a single narrative, told over multiple parts, where each episode must be heard sequentially, then you should enter your series into the Best Serialized Story category. If you're still not sure, please write to us for clarification at competition@thirdcoastfestival.org.

15. Can I enter my submission for Best Serialized Story (BSS) to be judged for other award categories as well?

A BSS entry may additionally be eligible for the Best New Artist, Impact, and Best Work in a non-English Language categories. To be considered for another award category such as Best Documentary or Best News Feature, you may enter a single episode of your series (if it would make sense to a first-time listener as a standalone episode). You will need to fill out another entry form for that episode. The episode will then be judged as a standalone piece under whatever award category you have selected.

16. How should I decide whether to enter my work as a Best News Feature (BNF) vs either: Best Documentary (BD) or Best Documentary: Short (BDS)?

BNF entries are 0-20-minute-long pieces that should be driven by an event or a news-peg, however big or small, and proceed from there. These stories are often locally-focused, community driven, and made on a short deadline. It's okay if, by the time of submission, BNF content feels dated from a news perspective; we’re interested in BNF entries capturing a moment in time. BNF entries are eligible to additionally be considered for Best New Artist and Impact.

If your piece falls outside of this description, it probably better qualifies as a BD or a BDS. And if we think you’ve mis-categorized your piece, and we think it would be more competitive in a different category, we’ll move it on our end.

17. How is the Audio Unbound category judged?

This prize is awarded to a piece of narrative work that uses audio as a primary element, but is best presented outside of typical audio distribution methods like radio and podcast, or complicates the notion of the radio or podcast feed in some way. As a new category, we’re excited to pilot this award in 2020, and to continue developing the judges process in the future! In 2020, we are seeking entries that incorporate experimental elements including, but not limited to: mixed media (images, videos, website, text); experiences (walking tours, participatory storytelling, etc.), performances (theater, dance, etc) and more!

18. Who are this year’s Judges?

Third Coast annually curates & personally invites groups of experts in the industry to serve as Judges for the TC/RHDF Competition. Judges are selected from a diverse pool of experienced makers, editors, and more to represent a breadth of perspectives and approaches to audio storytelling. We will announce the 2020 Judges soon!

19. What happens if there is a conflict of interest?

If a Third Coast staff member or Judge has participated in the creation of an entry or believes they are too close to the entry for another reason, they are asked to recuse themselves from any discussion that might influence final decision-making.

20. What categories should I submit my piece for? It could be considered so many different things!

First off, don't worry too much! You can enter your work in multiple eligible categories—the form will guide you through that process. Then, the Third Coast staff will consider your entry in the category that it fits best in and is most competitive in. We're rooting for you! (And we would never move your entry into a category that would make it less competitive.)

21. Do I count as a New Artist?

We measure whether or not someone qualifies as a “Best New Artist” based on whether they published their first narrative audio story before or after April 7, 2018. If you published your first audio story before April 7, 2018, you do NOT qualify as a Best New Artist entrant. If you published your first audio story after April 7, 2018, you DO qualify as a Best New Artist entrant. Answering the Best New Artist statement also helps us understand your journey into audio! We may ask you a few follow-ups, too. Remember that this is basically an “honor” system.

22. How do I know if my entry is eligible for the Audio Unbound category?

Our answer is three-fold. First: Since Audio Unbound is a new category for us, too, we're excited to see, and learn from, how you interpret it. (That's why we ask for a statement in the Audio Unbound category—if you can make a good case on the "unbound" nature of your work, that will go along way in convincing the judges, too!) Second: Third Coast designed this category specifically for work that explores the boundaries and intersections of audio as a medium, so we'd encourage you to articulate how your piece is pushing or blurring the lines between audio documentary and other kinds of creative work, especially in terms of form. Third: Once again, if you enter Audio Unbound, but the TC staff thinks your piece is more competitive in another category, they will simply move your piece into that category.

PREPARING MY ENTRY

23. Should I include the audio of the host lede/intro that was read before my story aired, as part of my entry? Should I leave in the ads, promos, and billboards from the original show as part of my entry?

No, no, and no. (And don’t worry, a lot of people get confused about this!) Generally speaking, the rule is to cut out any promotional material (unless that’s somehow part of the story) and any host-read ledes or credits that aren’t essential to understanding the story itself. Please see “Preparing Your Entry” in the dropdown menu, and follow those instructions to better prepare your entry.

24. Can I submit my entry as a .wav file?

No, please submit the audio as .mp3(s). Our form will only accommodate files that are 25mb in size. If you need to send larger files, please use the Dropbox link on the form.

25. I am submitting an entry in a non-English language. How should I format my transcript for submission?

All entries meant to be heard and understood in a language other than English must be accompanied by one easy-to-read PDF transcript in original language(s) AND English. The transcript should include: Regular time codes (at least one per page); Non-verbal cues such as music, sounds or effects (when possible); Page numbers. See an example transcript here. (Note: We love the artful elements of the cover page of this transcript, but that’s not a requirement for this category.)

26. Can I submit a video with English-language subtitles in addition to transcripts of the piece?

Yes, we love subtitled videos! Please include the link in the "Entry Summary." Alternately, if you run out of space in the Entry Summary, you can add a page or paragraph to your transcript PDF with a link to the video. Additionally, if you like, you are welcome to send us the video directly via a filesharing service like WeTransfer or Dropbox—whatever works best for you.

27. What information should I include in my Impact statement?

This Competition seeks compelling storytelling, and boundary-pushing work, but the strength of your Impact Statement is a key part of how the piece is evaluated, so tangible examples are helpful. Your Impact statement should take into consideration the many ways, in 2020, an audio piece can have an impact on a life, a community, a culture, even a digital space. Here is a sample statement from the 2016 Radio Impact Award winner.

28. What should I write for my Audio Unbound statement?

This is essentially an artist's statement to accompany your submission. It should explain how, in what format and where the work was originally presented, and some explanation of the audience for the work. In general, provide any further context needed for listeners to understand the entry (especially if it is particularly experience or place-based work that is harder to translate into a digital space). Please also explain how you see the work fitting into the Audio Unbound category.

ENTRY FORM & PAYMENT

29. I keep getting error messages! What do I do?

Sorry to hear that! We’ve tried to streamline the submission form as much as possible, but we know that technology (and we, for that matter) are not perfect. So if you’re receiving a repeated error message but you don’t know why, please email us (competition@thirdcoastfestival.org) and we’ll help find a solution.

30. I think I already paid the wrong amount OR the form is prompting me to pay the wrong amount

If you have not already submitted the form, please first try to fill out the form again from scratch. If you are still seeing multiple fees, please pay and submit the form. Once the form has been submitted, please send us an email with the following information: name of your entry, amount you paid, category(s) you wanted to submit to, as well as information about who is paying for the entry fee. If you paid too much, we will refund the difference.

31. I’m confused about the Release & Sharing Agreement. Can you tell me more about it?

This agreement provides Third Coast with the right to showcase your work in their programming. This includes sharing your entry in its entirety during live events (virtual or in-person), on the Third Coast website, social media, newsletter, and other marketing platforms in association with the TC/RHDF Competition. It does not take away your ownership of the piece, nor does it grant Third Coast the right to publish the entry on podcast or the radio. You’ll be notified if we choose to highlight your piece in one of these ways. In the case that your entry is chosen as a winner or finalist, we will ask you to sign a more comprehensive agreement that grants us the right to publish on radio & podcast.

32. My file is larger than 25mb! What do I do?

If you are entering a shorter entry (30ish minutes or less), please try to upload the audio file directly on the entry form (you may need to compress the file a bit). If you are submitting a larger file size, you can click the link on the form and upload to our special Dropbox. If you are submitting a Serialized Story, please upload here. If you are submitting in any other category, click here to upload your audio file. (Note that these links are also on the entry form, and we will not consider your entry until you have completed the entry form as well as the file upload.)

33. What counts as “institutional support”?

If you are entering work on behalf of an institution, or with support from that institution, then your entry is receiving institutional support. If you are entering work as an independent or freelance producer, and paying for the entry out of your own pocket, then you qualify for the independent/freelance rates.

34. Why can’t I upload my Serialized Story entry directly to the form?

Unfortunately, the file size limit on our form is 25mb, and most Serialized Stories are larger than this amount. You can upload your Serialized Story here. (Note that we will not consider your entry until you have completed the entry form.)

GOT OTHER QUESTIONS?

Email us at competition@thirdcoastfestival.org