Dec 07, 2021

NASA & Houston Cinema Arts Society: NASA CineSpace 2021 Short Film Competition [Jul 14]

  • Christine
  • Remote (Worldwide)



Submit a short film inspired by, and using, actual footage from NASA's digital archives for a chance to earn cash prizes, have your film screened by renowned director Richard Linklater (BoyhoodDazed and Confused), and get programmed into the Houston Cinema Arts Festival this November.


NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society are teaming up once again to host the annual CineSpace Short Film Competition, inviting filmmakers, editors, and animators from around the world to explore NASA's digital archives and create short films inspired by, and incorporating, real NASA footage. 

With over 60 years of space exploration at your fingertips – from the first Apollo flights to the latest Rover shots – your mission is to flex your creative muscles and create something truly unique. Using NASA imagery, we're looking for films of any type and any format - that means traditional narratives, experimental expressions, documentaries, comedies, dramas, animated pieces, ambient visuals, music videos, re-mixes, VJ sets, even sci-fi or horror stories, and more. The key thing is that your short is based on innovative and artistic storytelling, provokes an emotional response, and showcases a mastery of filmmaking, editing, and/or animation. You can submit up to 5 short films to this competition. Submissions are due by Wednesday, July 14th at 12pm PT. To submit, make sure you're signed into your Tongal account and click on the blue 'Submit Video' button at the top of this page. The countdown clock for the submission deadline automatically adjusts to your timezone. 

Films will be judged on their creativity, innovation, and attention to detail – the hallmarks of spaceflight itself – with special guest judge Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused) weighing in! Submissions must be 10 minutes or less (including credits) and comprised of at least 10% NASA imagery and/or footage, which is based on the film's total runtime, excluding credits. While some footage is iconic, the judges also appreciate seeing material that has not been used in previous competitions. NASA-owned imagery may be sourced from the NASA archives or any publicly available source (see an up-to-date list here).

Films selected as "Finalists" will be screened at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in November 2021, where a special ceremony will take place for attending filmmakers and the following awards will be announced during the screening: 

AWARDS: The Selection Committee and Competition Judges (collectively the “Jury”) will award the following prizes:

  • Grand Prize: USD $10,000
  • Second Prize: USD $5,000
  • Third Prize: USD $3,000

SPECIAL JUDGING CATEGORIES AND AWARDS:  In addition to the above awards, the Jury may also award three Special Category prizes. They are looking for submissions that elevate the featured themes using creative and original cinematic and/or storytelling techniques. If the jury feels that a submission meets these criteria, the submission may be considered for these awards. If no submissions sufficiently meet the criteria, these categories may not be awarded this year. 

  • Educational Film That Best Highlights Impacts of Space and Science: USD $4,000
    This award encourages filmmakers to make films that are educational in nature and that can be used in classrooms and with students to teach space and science topics.  These films would make use of imagery from NASA’s archives to explain, demonstrate, and illustrate space and science lessons and effectively communicate these to students.

  • Film That Best Depicts Unity and Inclusion in Science: USD $4,000
    On October 18, 2020, history was made when NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch performed the first all-woman spacewalk in support of space station assembly, the first to be conducted entirely by women. This significant milestone celebrates NASA's mission as we look forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon. This award celebrates stories following underrepresented individuals in science and space exploration. This category is designated for the film that recognizes the contributions to science and innovation that diversity brings. Filmmakers are encouraged to dive deep into NASA's archives and unravel innovative moments in technology and science.

If your original plans for your CineSpace submission(s) have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to take this time to reimagine your approach and find new ways to create as well as virtually collaborate with others. One way to connect with other CineSpace creators is by posting in our Project Forum. We've also curated this gallery of past CineSpace finalist and winning films that showcase exceptional storytelling and originality using novel approaches and simple techniques that can be achieved at home using the tools you have at your disposal.

Please reference the prizing above, as the Project Funding breakdown at the top of this page automatically lists the prizing numerically rather than by ranking or category.

Finalist films may also screen at other events across the country, shown on NASA TV, and on the International Space Station!


This section is designed to help you put your best foot forward in making a submission. 

HELPFUL INFO:  Here are some do’s & don’ts to give your video(s) the best shot:

  • Review past finalists and award winners here (2015,  2016,  2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020). Take note of what footage has been used the most. You are encouraged to use imagery not used before.
  • If you have specific imagery in mind and can’t find it, please contact us at
  • Keep track of the URL links to the NASA footage you end up using in your final short. We will ask for a URL reference log in the submission form. 
  • Footage found on YouTube may contain graphics, music and other production elements. In order to use NASA-owned footage found on YouTube, it must be clear of any third-party material (a.k.a content not owned by NASA). 
  • You may alter, edit, add special effects and graphics to NASA-owned footage to tell your story as long as any third-party material you use is properly licensed. 
  • You're welcome to adapt an older short you've worked on, but your video's creation must post-date Jan 1, 2018.
  • If your film is in a language other than English, the review copy of your work should have English subtitles. Should you be selected as a Finalist for screening at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, you’ll be required to submit a 1080p version without subtitles and provide either English subtitle transcript or SRT file with English subtitles.
  • There is no entry fee to submit to CineSpace. You may submit up to 5 short films!
  • If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must submit and sign all paperwork on your behalf. 


  • Submitters grant non-exclusive rights to NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society to the film's content. However, filmmakers will retain all rights to their own films.

JUDGING CRITERIA: The Jury will consider the following criteria to select Finalists and award Winners:

  • Is the work based on innovative artistic presentation and storytelling?
  • Does the work provoke an emotional response?
  • Does the work show a mastery of filmmaking?
  • Does the work show a high level of technical, conceptual, and aesthetic innovation and display an exceptional creative vision?
  • Does the work show an exemplary use of the original NASA material used?
  • Extra credit for using unusual or obscure NASA imagery that hasn’t been used before.

FILM RELEASES 101In the very exciting event your film is selected to screen at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, it will need to go through Tongal’s standard clearance process with one of our producers to make sure it has all the proper releases (music, talent, location, etc.) to be screened publicly. We’ve created this handy guide to help you determine which releases you’ll need, along with a zip file of our film releases. 

If you made your film before the launch of this year’s competition, we’ll be happy to review the releases you used in the course of your production in lieu of Tongal’s own releases. If there are any issues, there’s a chance we may ask you to complete one or more of Tongal’s releases. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at


Be sure to review NASA's Submitter’s Agreement before getting started on your submission, as you'll be asked to agree to it upon submission. In order for your short film(s) to be considered by the Jury, you must submit by Wednesday, July 14th at 12pm PT. Below, we've outlined the three phases of this competition:

PHASE 1: CINESPACE VIDEO SUBMISSION - Submit a ten (10) minute or less short film that is at least 10% comprised of actual NASA footage. Initial review copies may be uploaded to the Tongal submission form at HD 720p 16X9 with acceptable file formats: .mov, .mp4, .wmv,  and acceptable codecs: H.264 (MP4), MPEG-4. Be sure to keep track of the URLs that link to the NASA-owned footage you end up using in your film. We'll ask you for a reference log in the submission form.  

PHASE 2: EVALUATION PERIOD During this phase, submissions will be evaluated by the Jury. The Houston Cinema Arts Festival will announce the Finalists on or before October 14th, 2020, during the official announcement of their festival lineup. This is usually done via livestream. 

PHASE 3: CINESPACE FINALISTS - Finalists will work with the Tongal post-production team to deliver the assets required for the CineSpace screening and promotional materials. Around this time, Finalists will also receive their general festival laurels and will be put in touch with the festival's guest coordinator to make plans to attend the festival. Upon delivering final assets, Finalists will await prizing results to be announced during the CineSpace screening, which will take place sometime in mid-November (exact date TBD).

ASSET DELIVERY REQUIREMENTS:  In order to be featured in the CineSpace program in November, Finalists will need to deliver the following materials for the screening and promotional purposes. We want to make sure your film is screened in the highest quality format as possible!

  • Three to five 300dpi HQ stills for the festival website and program guide
  • Full High Quality Master file of your film in 23.98 FPS - If you're unable to convert your film to 23.98 FPS, Tongal can do the conversion in-house

  • SRT files

  • Textless Master - If your film contains subtitles, please submit a version without them. This is in case NASA wants to put other subtitles that aren’t English over your film

More information:

Type of Opportunity

Extracurricular Activity

Application Deadline

Wednesday, July 14th at 12pm PT

Age Range

Natural persons who are at least 18 years of age at the time of entry. Parents and guardians of filmmakers younger than 18 can submit on their behalf.