Frequently Asked Questions


Do you have to be a student to qualify?

Nope! Anyone can register as long as he or she hasn’t received $10,000 in combined creative/production/package fees within the previous two years.

I’m a student, but I’m not in a music/film scoring program. Can I enter?


What does “10,000 in combined creative/production/package fees” mean?

Basically, you can’t have made $10,000 or more for your compositions (by licensing your work, composing for hire, etc.) in the past two years. This competition is for emerging composers, not working professional composers.

Is the competition for U.S. composers only?

No, international composers are welcome to participate. Our finalists and winners have traditionally come from all over the world.

I'm about to turn 18. Do I register for the Youth or Emerging category?

To register in our Youth category, you must be under 18 at the registration deadline (January 19, 2018). If you turn 18 on or before that date, you must register in the Emerging category; after, you can register in the Youth category.

Can I work with other people on my project?

Composers may work in teams of up to 2 people as long as both composers are eligible under the guidelines and receive full credit for the score. You may not seek assistance in composing from a teacher, professional composer, or anyone who does not meet the eligibility requirements. The musicians who play the score do not have to meet the eligibility requirement as long as they play no part in the composition of the piece.

I participated in this contest before. Can I enter again?

As long as you fit the eligibility criteria above, absolutely – and welcome back!


Can I see the film before I register?

To protect the rights of the filmmakers who share their work, no composer may access the footage until registration.The footage will be sent to all composers in mid-December.

I'm under 18. Do I need a parent to register for me?

You may submit your own information as the contact, but you must have a parent or guardian initial and sign the contest agreement on your behalf.

Can I submit my payment via PayPal?

Certainly! Save a draft of your registration form, then send an email to requesting an email invoice. Please make sure that the email address you use to request a PayPal invoice is the same as the one listed on your registration form so we can match the payment. 

SFX and Sampling

Can I (or should I) add sound effects?

You can add sound effects, but you are not expected or required to do so. The judges will evaluate your score, first and foremost, and are looking for musical creativity.

Can I work with a sound designer?

No, you must create the sound mix on your own.

Can I use samples from sound effect libraries?

You may, but make sure you’re using properly licensed material.

Uploading Your Score

How do I submit my score? Do I need to submit a written score?

You will submit the video that you downloaded (see your confirmation email for details) with your music over the film; judges will watch the videos to evaluate the scores. Please make sure the file is properly labeled, as it should be named “fullname-hamlischcontest.fileformat” (eg, You should not submit a written score to CINE, though you’re welcome to create one for your own records.

Is there any specific software I should or shouldn’t use?

Use whichever software you’re most comfortable with, just remember that all music must be YOUR work. No pre-written or recorded music.

How do I upload my score?

You will use our upload form to submit your score (see your confirmation email for details). If you do not receive confirmation or have issues with that form, submit the score via Dropbox (preferred) or another free file-sharing service (WeTransfer, Hightail) to

What file format should I use?

Scores should be uploaded in MP4 format.

Judging and Criteria

What is the judging process? Who watches my film?

Judges evaluate all scores “blind.” Every score is sent through a first stage of judging, and top-rated scores move on to further rounds. First stage judges are recruited from among music industry pros, scoring and music professors, and former (but not current) contest participants. Semi-final judges (also from these backgrounds) narrow the field to 10 finalists, and those top 10 scores move to our special guest jury, who will select the winner of the Marvin Hamlisch Award and runners-up.

What is the judging criteria?

The judging criteria is listed at 

Can I see judging comments?

Absolutely! You’ll receive an email notifying you of your status after the first stage of judging, with a link to login and view your judging feedback. Scores that move on to further stages will also receive feedback from those stages, as well.

What if I disagree with the judges’ feedback?

That’s your prerogative! While we strive to create as objective a judging process as possible, all art is ultimately subjective, and sometimes we must respectfully agree to disagree. Our goal is that every composer who participates gets something great out of it – even if it’s just another piece for your professional portfolio – and keeps creating great music.

Other FAQs

Can I edit the film?

No, you may not alter the film in any way.

Should I score the credits?

That’s your choice! Do what seems best to you, but note that judges will evaluate all of your choices.

Can I use vocals in my score?

Sure! There’s no limit to what you can use in terms of sound design or instrumentation. Go crazy.

Can I submit my score to other exhibitions or competitions?

In deference to the filmmaker, we must approve any requests to submit the video footage to another group, but we’re happy to discuss it! Contact us (, 507.400.2463) with the details of the request.

Can I post my score online?

Not until we tell you to! To ensure that all judging remains anonymous, you can only put your score online when notified by CINE that judging is complete. We’ll also forward any requirements of posting – links to the original film, how to credit the filmmaker, etc. – at that time. Publicizing your score before notification is grounds for disqualification.