National Paddling Film Festival

Submissions now OPEN for 2021! Thanks for all your submissions!
Submit Your Still ImageSubmit Your Film
NPFF Official Rules


Do you want the judges to pay extra attention to your film or image? Looking for a few extra-credit points when the competition gets fierce?

Using your phone, record a quick 30 sec – 1 min NPFF Pitch Video and post it onto Facebook. The Pitch Video must answer these questions.

  1. Why does your video or image rock? What’s the special sauce?
  2. Why is supporting American Whitewater, Paddle Sports, River Conservation and the NPFF important to you?

Be sure to tag National Paddling Film Festival and include a link to the NPFF Facebook page and website when you post your pitch video.

Here is FB page:
Here is the Website:


All entry fees have been waived! Please limit still images to 3 per person unless prior permission has been obtained for more entries. As usual, there is no guarantee that submitted material will be accepted into the competition.


Motion Image Rules

Media: Motion competition entries should be submitted as HD quality video files (720 or 1080 resolution) via a link for download or upon request, files may be uploaded directly to the NPFF cloud server. Online media preferred but physical media (DVDs / flash drives / memory cards) also accepted but not returned. If you submit your entry via an online link please use a web host that allows for downloads like Vimeo, Google Drive, or Dropbox.


1. Amateur
2. AccomplishedAmateur 3. Professional

Awards: The motion entries compete in the following categories:

  • Amateur: General Boating, Documentary
  • Accomplished Amateur: General Boating, Documentary
  • Professional: General Boating, Safety/Instructional, Documentary, CommercialEntrants are to select into which of the above categories their film is to be entered. To maintain a fair and level competition, The National Paddling Film Festival reserves the right to modify any films entry division and category as we see fit. Film trailers are not accepted.Judging Criteria – Awards are decided by the following criteria:
  • Creativity: Originality of the ideas.
  • Image Quality: Exposure and composition
  • Editing and Pacing: How the presentation flows
  • Content: Development of the idea
  • Soundtrack: Use of music/sound/narrationDue to the limited number of competition slots all entries must be pre-judged for admission to the festival. Pre-judging is done by the NPFF volunteer film committee, and criteria willinclude balancing the overall content of the festival between divisions and categories. If any category has only one qualifying entry, the committee reserves the right to eliminate the category and have the entrant choose an alternate category for his or her submission. The NPFF will retain a copy of accepted entries for our archives. Film makers are asked to sign a release form allowing their video to be used for NPFF display and promotional purposes. There are optional releases for the entry to participate in the NPFF Road Shows.

Still Image Rules

Still Image Rules: Files may be submitted by email or on CD as .jpg or .tif, print quality (at
least 300 dpi) and less than 8MB. All entries must have been taken or created by submitting photographer or image artist. Limit submissions to three per person, unless prior permission has been obtained for more entries. There is no guarantee that submitted material will be accepted into the competition. The Top Ten images based on online voting will be featured and voted on at the Festival Friday and Saturday.

  • Submit an entry form online at the NPFF web site
  • Upload your image with the form or email your digital file entry to:website: on the Submit Entries tab email: NPFF.Image@bluegrasswildwater.orgWinning images may be used in magazine articles, ads or other promotional pieces for the NPFF with full credit to the submitter. Please do not watermark your entries.
NPFF Judging Process
For 33 years the National Paddling Film Festival has been hosting a competition to determine the best in paddle sport videos and images. This competition has provided the paddling community with a fun and profitable event to support American Whitewater and river conservation. In that time, the NPFF has also helped to raise the quality of paddle sport entertainment by providing recognition of talent, along with important and useful feedback, for the artists who make the show a possibility. Thanks to the judges’ contribution of their valued written opinions, along with the organizational work of the film festival volunteers, hundreds of amateur, accomplished and professional image artists have been better able to gauge the audience’s enjoyment of their work and gain the encouragement and information helpful for creating even more entertaining art in the future. In 2006, the volunteers of the National Paddling Film Festival made a few changes to the structure of the festival in an effort to put more focus on the film and image competition and enhance the judging process. As in previous years, the NPFF volunteer judges will continue to prejudge all entries and also to invite other judges who are either motion picture and television media professionals, accomplished and professional paddling filmmakers or representatives of paddling organizations to lend their scores and opinions to determine the winners. The difference in this process starting in 2006, and to be used in following years, was that our invited judges will now be making their judgments prior to the Festival instead of the day of the show. By making this change, the organizers of the NPFF are hoping to increase the number and diversity of qualified judges and provide more time for the judges to score and make their comments about the entries.
2015 NPFF Judges
Bill Eades Lifetime member and former president of the Missouri Whitewater Association of water deprived boaters. ACA instructor for whitewater, instructing mainly on-river clinics conducted by the MWA. Easily the worst and oldest team paddler and technical rep for Pyranha US, since 1996. Film judge for the NPFF since 1998. Associate Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, directing a cancer center core laboratory for flow cytometry, involving critical light and color measurements for fluorescent cell marking and cell sorting. Matt Muir Matt “Rattso”Muir has been paddling whitewater since he bought a used Dancer in 1992. He attended and judged his first NPFF ca. 1998, and has been collecting Paddle Porn since. He also helps keep the American Whitewater website the best source of river beta on the World Wide Internets. Barry Grimes Barry’s 8mm film, “El Horrendo” provided the inspiration for the establishment of the first National Paddling Film Festival in 1983. As a BWA member/past president and a founder of the film festival, Barry served as the NPFF Coordinator for several years during the 1980s and 1990s and was awarded the William Nealy Award in 2006. As an accomplished photographer and videographer, Barry has numerous whitewater films to his credit including several winning NPFF entries. Paul Martzen Paul lives in Fresno California where he is a professional photographer and amateur film maker. Paul is married and has two grown sons.  He started whitewater kayaking in 1982 and has explored many rivers, though mostly in California.  Many of his whitewater photographs can be found on the American Whitewater website.  Paul attended and helped out at the 2008, 2011 and later NPFFs, which he enjoyed tremendously.   He is very happy to help the event again this year by judging and critiquing the films. Burgess Carey Burgess is a whitewater paddler and consumer of whitewater products since the early 1980’s. Sometimes a “has been” and always an armchair athlete, past involvement in the BWA and NPFF has resulted in much controversy and scurrilous remarks. Professionally intent on changing the world one outdoor venture at a time, Burgess is the current steward of the Boone Creek Outdoors project and when not watching paddling films can often be found sleeping “Down by the River” in his van. Clay Wright Clay is a creek boating and play boating pioneer with numerous international “First D’s” and whitewater video appearances to his credit. He won the 1997 World Championship in Squirt Boating, 2005 National Championship in Freestyle as well as numerous extreme races including the original Green Race. He still competes in races and rodeos but also serves as an ICF Judge, USACK Rules Committee Chair, Keener Coach, and was guest speaker at a previous NPFF. Sellus Wilder Sellus is an award-winning filmmaker and former Mayor Pro Tem of Frankfort, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is currently shooting a documentary on the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline. David Downing David is a Glasgow, Ky native who graduated from Western Kentucky University with a B. A. in Broadcast Television. After working for the man for the first five years, Dave decided to start his own business in 2004. After expanding in 2008 he decided to join forces with three friends and start Yellowberri, a Bowling Green based advertising agency. Six years later they have continued success working in all aspects of multimedia as well as side projects with music and film. Nate Morguelan While reasonably new to paddling, Nate has spent the majority of his life behind a camera making films and images of all kinds. After graduating from WKU, he too, joined forces with Yellowberri in Bowling Green, Kentucky to create professional videos and photos of all sorts. Having shot and edited different films and photos for the last several years, Nate relishes in the fact that judging the work of other talented peers is almost as much fun as creating the work itself. Colin Doherty Colin is a water addict, hailing from the salt side growing up surfing in North Carolina and California. He is pretending that his other lifelong obsession of stalking trout with a fly rod gives him enough water-reading street cred to judge the paddling tribe. He was initiated into kayaking last spring at the Bluegrass Wildwater Clinic, and was thrown into vicious Class I rapids by Robert Milgate, Hanley Loller, and Dot Edwards. Colin brings 20 years experience working in film, having shot everything from Old Spice spots to mayonnaise commercials. Colin recently worked at local branding agency Bullhorn Creative, and now is on the brand development team at Tempur + Sealy in Lexington.

Giving Back to Rivers. Giving Back to Community.

For 38 years the National Paddling Film Festival has been hosting an annual competition to determine the best in paddle sport videos and images and to support American Whitewater and river conservation. Since 1981 we've raised $172,000 in donations. Contact us to become a donor or sponsor.

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