A Primer on Narrative Films | Beyond the Peaks Film Fest

Narrative films tell a story with cohesive, connected events. Usually fictional, narratives rely on believable storylines and characters to help convince your audience that they’re watching real life play out onscreen. Films in this genre cover a wide range of themes and ideas, from goofy comedies to serious dramas, or moving, personal stories that tug at a viewer’s heartstrings. No matter what subject matter you choose, pay attention to how pacing, camera angles, music and other filmmaking techniques can all help craft a convincing narrative film.

Making a narrative film of your own? Check out filmmaking tools, tips, and classroom-ready resources on the Beyond the Peaks festival homepage and in our Storytelling and Filmmaking collection on PBS LearningMedia.

Narrative category requirements:

  • Films must have a run time of 5 minutes or less.
  • Pre-production materials include a script and storyboard.
  • Additional materials include a poster, trailer, synopsis, and cast & crew lists.

Students can submit original films in a variety of additional categories including Documentary, PSA, Thriller, and Open.

Discover Engaging Narrative Films

Get inspired to create your own narrative film with this selection of independent and student filmmaker productions. Explore engaging onscreen stories—from a comedic take on the classic board game Risk to the history of a family told through the migratory journey of monarch butterflies—there’s lots to discover with narratives.

Gwen | Film School Shorts

In this quirky film by Madeline Snapp, we meet an overachiever named Gwen who is obsessed with eggs. Her passion has led to four consecutive wins for “Best Dish” at the Blue Briar Neighborhood Fair until a crushing loss in the Spring of 2009 steals her thunder. Will she reclaim her title this year? Film School Shorts, brought to you by KQED, is a weekly series that showcases short student films, giving emerging filmmakers around the country a platform to show off their top-notch storytelling.

Risky Business

“Risky Business” was created in 2017 by students from Nonnewaug High School. Watch as world nations collide with this silly, comedic take on the classic board game Risk.

Dream Carriers | PBS Short Film Festival

Framed through the migration of monarch butterflies, a college-bound Chicana reflects on the generations of women before her in “Dream Carriers”. This selection is from the 2023 PBS Short Film Festival.

Enter the “Beyond the Peaks Student Film Festival”!

To get started, create a student or teacher account on Launchpad. Explore tutorials, resources, and step-by-step instructions on how to successfully submit your completed film entries!

Documentary | PSA | Narrative | Thriller | Open entry

Submissions are due April 30th with winners announced at an end-of-school year Red Carpet Showcase. The top three winners will receive a cash prize and video supplies!

Sign up for Beyond the Peaks!

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